France undermines EU plan to provide artillery shells to Ukraine

European sources told the British “Telegraph” that Paris wanted guarantees that the agreement worth two billion euros for the joint procurement of weapons would only benefit companies based in the EU.

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The request came amid negotiations on a new Brussels-led scheme to buy a million 155mm artillery shells to boost supplies to Kiev and replenish depleted national armouries.

Under the scheme, member states would be given monetary incentives to centralize and coordinate procurement among themselves in the hope that orders would be large enough to convince arms manufacturers to increase production.

Photo: AA/ABACA / Abaca Press / Profimedia

Ukrainian soldiers from the 10th brigade unload artillery ammunition

French officials argue that only EU-based defense firms should be allowed access to lucrative new contracts.

Critics of the French request warned that it risked slowing support for Ukraine because production capacity could be readily available outside the bloc.

– Many member countries expressed different opinions than France. If we want to act now, which is necessary, it is very important to allow non-EU companies to access the scheme. Paris clearly favors the EU spending money on its own industry in comparison to supporting Ukraine – an EU diplomat told “Telegraph”.

So far, EU countries have supplied Ukraine with only 350,000 155mm artillery shells, which Kiev says it desperately needs to maintain its defense lines and launch an expected spring counteroffensive.

Ukrainian soldiers from the 10th Brigade fire a D-30 howitzer at Russian infantry

Photo: AA/ABACA / Abaca Press / Profimedia

Ukrainian soldiers from the 10th Brigade fire a D-30 howitzer at Russian infantry

Brussels has so far reimbursed its member states 450 million euros for donations, at an estimated cost of 1,285 euros per shell.

According to Western intelligence, Kiev’s forces fire about 6,000 artillery rounds each day, while Russia fires 20,000 a day – the same amount produced by European defense manufacturers each month.

While Ukraine has backed EU plans to jointly procure a million grenades, Oleksii Reznikov, its defense minister, warned last week that this would not be enough to fight the Russian invasion.

At a meeting of EU defense ministers, Reznikov said Ukraine needed at least 100,000 155mm rounds each month to reduce battlefield shortages.

On Wednesday, EU countries were still arguing over a final deal to buy enough grenades for Ukraine. The original proposal provided for one billion euros of EU funds to be set aside to reimburse member states that can immediately donate ammunition to Ukraine from their own stockpiles.

Emmanuel Macron

Photo: Blondet Eliot/ABACA / Shutterstock Editorial / Profimedia

Emmanuel Macron

An additional billion euros from the bloc’s financial coffers would be used to jointly purchase new ammunition on the open market in the hope that larger orders would mean a lower price per shell.

Concerns in NATO

Britain and other non-EU NATO allies have privately expressed concern that centralized arms procurement by Brussels could create bureaucratic barriers within the alliance and threaten interoperability.

Similar fears were raised during talks with the EU on joint procurement, but France is said to have refused to back down, saying it was seeking greater “strategic autonomy” for the bloc.

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, has long advocated for the EU to become completely independent of NATO and Washington on the military, energy, economic and technological fronts.




But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted Paris to rethink its strategy and focus instead on strengthening defenses as part of NATO.

Greece and Cyprus, the source said, supported France’s bid to prevent Turkish firms from bidding for contracts.

Norway could become the only non-EU country allowed to produce ammunition for the scheme as it is a member of the European Defense Agency, which will coordinate procurement.

Any final deal will have to be signed later this month when European leaders hold a summit in Brussels.

The article is in Serbian

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