Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares Bueno, right, talks with his Italian counterpart Antonio Tajani during a meeting between EU foreign ministers in Brussels, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union must find ways to quickly deliver thousands of artillery shells to Ukraine or face losing the war against Russia, senior EU diplomats warned Monday as ammunition supplies dwindle in national arsenals. of the EU.
“The most important issue today for the Ukrainian military is having a continuous flow of ammunition,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said before chairing a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers. “If we fail to do that, really, the outcome of the war is in jeopardy.”
Borrell spoke as US President Joe Biden was paying a surprise visit to Ukraine.
Borrell noted that Russian forces fire around 50,000 artillery rounds a day and supplies from Ukraine need to be brought up to the same level. Other estimates suggest Ukraine is firing between 6,000 and 7,000 artillery shells daily, about a third of Russia’s total after a year of war.
The most required, Borrell stressed, are the 155 mm artillery cartridges.
Borrell said the discussion will focus on ways to jointly purchase ammunition and use a special EU fund to provide extra funding. However, the defense industry requires strong, long-term orders to cope and expand its production lines and cannot simply increase supplies overnight.
Last week, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the lead time for supplies of “large-calibre ammunition has increased from 12 to 28 months” and that “orders placed today can only be delivered in two Years and a half”.
Estonia, which shares a border and a long history with Russia, is pushing the EU and its NATO allies to provide one million artillery shells, at an estimated cost of 4 billion euros ($4.3 billion).
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