Borrell: European countries to deliver only half of promised munitions to Ukraine by March
EU member states will have delivered only about half the amount of ammunition initially promised to Ukraine by March. The High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, reported this after an informal meeting of European Defence ministers at the Egmont Palace in Brussels on Wednesday.
In March last year, EU member states promised to deliver 1 million rounds of ammunition to Ukraine within a year. Of these, 330,000 have been delivered, or about a third of the target. According to Borrell, that amount will increase to about 524,000 by March, or about half of what was initially promised. By the end of 2024, that should increase to 1.1 million, and member states have committed to supplying an additional 630,000 rounds.
Speaking at a press conference alongside Belgian Defence minister Ludivine Dedonder, Borrell defended the European effort as a "work in progress" and said production capacity had been increased by 40 per cent since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. "If there is no production capacity, we cannot produce," he said.
"We need to do more and faster"
While European member states have already provided Ukraine with 28 billion euros worth of military aid, Dedonder warned that European efforts are not yet sufficient and stressed the importance of strengthening the defence industry. At least 21 billion euros worth of military assistance has already been budgeted for 2024 by several countries.
Borrell also pointed to the "almost 40,000 Ukrainian soldiers that have been trained" and the 20,000 extra Ukrainian soldiers that European countries have agreed to train.
Although he acknowledged that the EU had not met the ammunition target, he said Brussels should be satisfied with what has been done. Ukraine admittedly needs more support. "We need to do more and faster," he said.
Red Sea mission
During the meeting, ministers also discussed the security situation in the Red Sea and the Sahel region of Africa. Maritime security on the Red Sea is impaired, Borrell said. The EU, therefore, wants to send a defence mission to the Red Sea called Aspides. The aim is to protect commercial ships in the Red Sea from attacks by Yemeni Houthi rebels.
"We have an agreement in principle on the participation of the frigate Louise-Marie in the mission to escort and protect merchant vessels," Dedonder said of Belgium's role in the assignment. Borrell expects the mission to be formalised when EU foreign ministers meet again on 19 February.
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