Brussels and Berlin have different views on the EU’s ability to supply Kyiv with a million munitions by spring. European Commissioner Breton insists that the goal would be achieved, while German Defence Minister Pistorius is convinced of the opposite.
European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton believes that the EU’s goal set in spring to supply Ukraine with one million munitions by March 2024 is feasible. He said that on Tuesday, 14 November at the meeting of EU defense ministers in Brussels, noting that the European defense industry had increased its capacity by 20-30 per cent so that it would be able to produce one million shells by spring.
“This objective will be achieved,” the European Commissioner insists. - Now it is up to the member states to finalize the contracts”. Breton urged the EU member states to fulfil their commitments to Ukraine.
Pistorius believes that putting up a million munitions is impossible
Meanwhile, German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius estimates that the EU will not be able to meet this ambitious target. “One million – it’s impossible, we can be sure of that,” he said in Brussels, citing the lack of production capacity as the reason. According to the German defense chief, Germany has done a lot to increase it by concluding framework agreements with the industry, but production processes are “standing still”. Even the decision to switch to wartime economy could not lead to the situation that tomorrow production would be launched and demand would be met, he emphasized.
At the same time, Boris Pistorius pointed out that he initially doubted the feasibility of the goal set in March to supply Kyiv with ammunition. “I did not promise a million - quite deliberately,” he noted, recalling that even before the decision was made, there were warnings: “It is easy to decide on a million munitions, and there is money, but there must also be production.” Unfortunately, these warnings have now turned out to be correct, the German minister added.
Besides, he said that in close cooperation with the defense industry they were searching ways to implement production projects faster: “It is necessary to increase and accelerate production. This is the requirement of today.” Meanwhile, Boris Pistorius confirmed that Berlin would provide Ukraine with new assistance worth at least 8bn euros.
Josep Borrel: We need to make the Ukrainian market more attractive for producers
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell was not as categorical as Pistorius in his assessment regarding the fulfilment of the EU’s intentions on military assistance to Kyiv. Pointing out that EU countries had supplied Ukraine with “more than 300,000” munitions from army’s stockpiles, he agreed that further deliveries could only be made by increasing defense production. And this, in turn, depends on the financial situation of EU countries and specific contracts with the industry, Borrell said, adding that at that moment it was necessary to study the production figures in specific countries.
The head of the European diplomacy reminded that a large share of the EU defense industry production (about 40 percent) is exported to third countries, so he sees the problem “not in the lack of production capacities”. One of the possible solutions, Borrell said, was to change the priority for the industry so that it became more profitable to produce ammunition for Ukraine.
“Companies operate in the market, they produce for the market. So, we should talk about providing another market that would be more interesting for them,” Josep Borrell said. According to him, he intends to discuss the issue with Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market.
In March 2023, the EU decided to supply Kyiv with 1 million artillery shells - mostly 155 mm caliber shells that meet the NATO standard - over a year. From February to May, the EU transferred 300,000 units of various types of ammunition - from artillery shells to missiles - to Kyiv. At the same time, Brussels said on 10 November that the European Union did not give up its intention to transfer one million munition items to Ukraine by March.