Ukraine has been facing ammunition shortages to carry on its defense against the Russian invasion. US also announces $350 million in ammunition aid.
(DW) The 27 European Union (EU) member states on Monday (March 20) approved a new aid package to Ukraine worth two billion euros to produce and make available large-caliber ammunition.
The bloc intends to deliver 1 million 155-millimeter artillery shells to Kiev over the next 12 months, as well as replenish EU stockpiles.
According to the plan, 1 billion euros will be used to reimburse EU countries that immediately supply Ukraine with ammunition from their own stockpiles. Another 1 billion euros will be used to jointly accelerate ammunition orders specifically for Ukraine.
“A historic decision. Following my proposal, member states have agreed to deliver 1 million artillery ammunition shells in the next 12 months,” EU diplomacy chief Josep Borrell wrote on Twitter after a meeting of EU foreign and defense ministers in Brussels.
Aid will also come in a third way: increasing ammunition production capacity, at a time of concerns that Ukraine is using more projectiles than its Western allies are producing.
In recent weeks, Borrell has been a leading advocate of ammunition production by the 27 bloc countries, supporting the idea of an autonomous European defense and security policy.
The uncertainty as to what position Beijing might take in the conflict, whether or not it will supply Moscow with arms, puts even more pressure on Ukraine and the European bloc countries.
Kiev has asked the EU to send it more ammunition, arguing that its forces have resorted to rationing firepower as they try to prevent Russian troops from advancing further. Russia is pursuing a major offensive to conquer Bakhmut and try to take other cities in the Donbass region.
“We are grateful to the EU for approving a plan to buy ammunition for Ukraine worth 2 billion euros,” said Ukrainian presidential administration chief of staff Andriy Yermak. “This is a very important step to protect European security,” he added.
The United States also announced on Monday the delivery of a new military aid package to Ukraine, worth $350 million (about 330 million euros), which includes ammunition for Himars rocket launchers and Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, as well as anti-tank weapons and river boats.
“Only Russia can end the war today. So until that happens, we will stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted.
On the day that Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Moscow for a state visit and to meet with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, the head of American diplomacy took the opportunity to salute “the more than 50 countries that have come together to support Ukraine in defending its territorial integrity.”
“This week, as Russia’s unscrupulous war of aggression against Ukraine continues at great human cost, we are again reminded of the boundless courage and unwavering resolve of the Ukrainian people and the strong support for Ukraine throughout the international community,” Blinken wrote in the same statement making the announcement of the new package.
U.S. Authorizes $350 Million More in Military Aid for Ukraine
(Reuters) – The United States is authorizing an additional $350 million in military aid for Ukraine, the country’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday, as Kiev builds its arsenal for a counteroffensive to Russian forces.
“This military assistance package includes more artillery ammunition for the US-supplied Himars and obus that Ukraine is using to defend itself, as well as ammunition for Bradley combat vehicles and infantry, HARM missiles, anti-tank weapons, boats and other equipment,” Blinken said in a statement.
The United States has provided more than $30 billion in weapons for Ukraine to defend itself against Russia, which invaded its pro-Western-government neighbor on February 24, 2022.
The latest U.S. military assistance package was announced days after U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley participated in a teleconference with their Ukrainian counterparts and spoke of their “unwavering support” for Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy also participated at the end of the meeting on Friday -Friday, the White House reported.
Kiev is trying to gather enough supplies of weapons from its Western backers, of which the U.S. was the most significant, to mount a counteroffensive and try to regain territory captured by the Russians last year.
“Only Russia could end its war today. Until Russia does, we will stay united with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” Blinken said Monday.