Why the EU can't just buy ammunition for Ukraine: the media explain the nuances

The EU fails to deliver the promised one million rounds of ammunition to Ukraine by March

The European Union has admitted its inability to supply Ukraine with one million rounds of ammunition by March 2024. Against the backdrop of the failure to deliver the promised supplies, the possibility of purchasing shells is increasingly being discussed.

However, this seemingly simple solution is facing serious obstacles in practice, which are largely political in nature. The problem was explained by the Defense Express military portal.

The portal's analysts mentioned the Czech Republic's unofficial offer to purchase a batch of 450,000 shells in addition to the 524,000 produced as part of the promised million of ammunition that the EU will be able to transfer by March. This proposal was reported by Politico, citing information from its own sources.

"In particular, South Korea, South Africa and Turkey have already been named as sources of ammunition. Regarding the production capabilities of the latter, a separate publication is devoted to the possibilities of Turkey's assistance. But it is also possible to add to it the existing stocks, which are designed for more than a thousand 155-mm artillery systems in the Turkish army," Defense Express notes.

However, experts emphasize that not all of these sources are realistic.

There is no doubt about the ability to supply ammunition in the case of South Korea. This country can supply shells both from its own stockpiles and from production. Proof of this can be seen, for example, in Seoul's agreement to organize "circular supplies" of hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition to replace US stocks while the United States was strengthening the Ukrainian army.

The main producer of artillery ammunition in South Africa is Denel Munition, a company owned by German Rheinmetall. So, hypothetically, South Africa could transfer the ammunition it has in its warehouses. Analysts do not estimate how many, noting that while in the early 1990s this country had about a hundred 155 mm artillery systems in service, it currently has only eight working units.

However, the realism of supplying Ukraine with ammunition is also significantly affected by the political component. For example, South Korea needs to revise its current policy in order to send its shells to Ukraine through the European Union.

Similarly, Turkey also needs political decisions on the transfer of shells from its own stockpiles. Ankara has no objection to selling shells to Ukraine under commercial contracts, but the transfer of its own stockpiles is a completely different matter.

The situation is similar in the case of South Africa.

"And the issue of availability, capabilities and political will in the supplying countries is also superimposed by a political decision within the European Union. For example, France agreed to a plan to produce ammunition for Ukraine on the condition that it be produced in Europe. That is, the money had to be invested in its own European production capabilities. That is why, due to such a multilayered nature of the seemingly simple "take and buy" problem, the question arises as to the realism of its solution," Defense Express experts summarized.

Earlier today, the European Union announced a large-scale supply of shells for Ukraine in February. The European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, said that the EU could supply 524,000 shells out of the promised one million, which is 52% of the planned amount. These shells can be delivered by early March.

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