This photograph on April 4, 2023, shows shells at the workshop of the “Forges de Tarbes” which produces 155mm shells, the munition for French Caesar artillery guns in use by the Ukrainian armed forces, in Tarbes, southwestern France.
James TweedieEU member states made an ambitious promise in March 2023 to produce and supply 1 million 155mm (six inch)-calibre artillery shells to Ukraine in a year — while also replenishing their own armies’ stocks, depleted by fuelling the proxy war with Russia.Germany’s defense minister has admitted that the European Union cannot keep its promise to supply Ukraine with a million artillery rounds.Boris Pistorius told media before a summit of EU defense ministers in Brussels that the pledge to deliver the shells by the end of March 2024 had always been unrealistic.”I didn’t promise 1 million rounds, and that was on purpose,” Pistorius said. “The right question to be asked would be whether 1 million was ever a realistic goal.”He conceded that while Brussels had the money to pay for shells, European arms firms did not have the extra capacity to increase production in the short term.”There were voices that warned: ‘You better watch out, 1 million is easily said, the money is available, (but) the production must be there’. These warning voices have been proven right now, unfortunately,” he added. “It is safe to assume that the 1 million rounds will not be reached.”WorldHungary Refuses to Approve Allocation of 500Mln Euros for Arms for UkraineYesterday, 15:18 GMTBut Thierry Breton, the EU Commissioner for the Internal Market with responsibility for the ammunition scheme, insisted that the target “will be met” — but appeared to blame shortfalls individual EU countries for not making enough effort.”Now it is up to the member states to make the orders, that is not up to the commission,” Breton told reporters on his arrival to the summit. “They must do it, and they must also verify that this production on their territory is directed in priority to Ukraine.”The EU pledged in March to supply Ukraine with a million newly-produced 155mm-calibre shells for Western-supplied towed and self-propelled howitzers, including the US-made M777 and the French ‘Caesar’, after member states depleted their own armed forces’ stocks arming Ukraine.Commission Vice-President Josep Borrell, the unelected EU executive’s representative for foreign affairs and security, also tried to deny that the plan had been a failure.”It’s an interaction between the industry and the member states. The work is in process,” Borrell said.He blamed producers for exporting 40 percent of production to non-EU countries, adding: “maybe what we have to do is to try to shift this production to the priority one, which is the Ukrainians.””We still have this target, and maybe we will not reach it by the end of the year, but it will depend on how quickly the contracts will be implemented and how quickly the factories will produce it,” Borrell told a press conference following the summit, revealing that European armies had further emptied their own stores to the tune of “something more than 300,000 rounds” in their attempts to honour the pledge.The Brussels-based bloc has diverted money from its European Peace Facility to buy arms for NATO’s proxy conflict with Russia in Ukraine. But the West has been unable to supply enough weapons and ammunition to match Russia’s expanded industrial capacity, which has allowed its army to fire more than 20,000 artillery shells per day along the entire front.The sudden escalation of the Israel-Palestine conflict on October 7 has also shifted the focus if US military aid from Kiev to Tel Aviv.