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Estonian officials say Czech initiative to buy shells for Ukraine still lacks funds

M777 howitzer
M777 howitzer in service with the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Source: Konstantin and Vlada Liberov

Several countries have already contributed to the Czech Republic's initiative to purchase ammunition for Ukraine, but funds are still lacking. In addition, the proposed ammunition needs to be tested, so some of it may reach the frontline only by the end of 2024.

This was stated by Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur on television, ERR reports. According to him, there are places in the world where you can buy shells, but the question is whether there are funds for this.

It is known that the Czech Republic is planning to purchase ammunition for Ukraine outside the EU, and according to the latest data, almost twice as many shells will be available as originally planned, i.e. 1.5 million in total.

"If we are talking about a million shells, it is about 3 billion euros. There are different calibers, smaller ones are a little cheaper. It would be great if everything could be done. At the moment, we can say that there is a lack of money more than there are shells," Pevkur said.

He added that they are trying to find the missing amounts primarily in the countries of Northern and Central Europe. As for France, which has expressed its willingness to make a larger contribution, this needs to be discussed separately.

According to the head of the Estonian Defense Ministry, it is difficult to predict when the ammunition might reach the front line in Ukraine.

Some of them may arrive in a few months, while others – only by the end of the year.

"A lot depends on the fact that we need to physically check some of the shells of these possible partners. We have been told what we can get there, but we need to check their condition and whether they are suitable for use at all," said Hanno Pevkur.

In her turn, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas expressed concern over the difficult situation with shells at the frontline in Ukraine.

"I am a little worried because we are patting ourselves on the back, so to speak, saying we are doing a good job, but there are reports from Ukraine that the ammunition is not reaching them. If we can still accomplish these things and deliver them to Ukraine, and Ukraine can strike back, it will have an effect. I'm reading memorandums from Ukrainian soldiers on the front line saying that they can't even take out the wounded because there is no ammunition," she said.

The most critical situation is with anti-aircraft missiles, which Ukraine is running out of. According to Pevkur, Tallinn has nothing to offer in this case, and the only option is to rely on allied warehouses.

As reported by OBOZ.UA, on February 17, Czech President Petr Pavel said at the Munich conference that his country had discovered 800,000 artillery shells abroad that it could transfer to Ukraine. This includes half a million 155 mm shells and another 300,000 122 mm shells, which the Czech Republic could supply in a matter of weeks, but it needs to secure rapid funding from the United States, Germany, Sweden, and other partners.

Recently, it became known that Ukraine will receive more shells earlier than planned. The Czech Republic has already signed contracts to supply one million rounds of ammunition worth 1.8 billion euros. Initially, 800,000 rounds were supposed to be delivered by June, but now this date has been pushed back to April.

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