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Bloomberg: Ukraine may get first shells found through Czech-led initiative 'within weeks'

by Martin Fornusek March 2, 2024 12:23 PM 2 min read
A Ukrainian soldier prepares 155mm artillery shells in his fighting position in Donetsk Oblast.
A Ukrainian soldier prepares 155mm artillery shells in his fighting position in Donetsk Oblast on Aug. 6, 2023. (Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Ukraine may receive the first of the 800,000 artillery shells identified through a Czech-led allied initiative "within weeks," Bloomberg reported on March 1, citing Czech Deputy Defense Minister Jan Jires.

As Kyiv faces critical ammunition shortages due to U.S. assistance being stalled in Congress, Czech President Petr Pavel said last month at the Munich Conference that Prague had identified 500,000 155 mm shells and 300,000 122 mm shells outside Europe. The ammunition could be shipped to Ukraine quickly if other partners provide financing, he added.

Czechia said it had received commitments from Canada, Denmark, and other countries that do not wish to be identified. Belgium has also allocated 200 million euros ($216 million) to the initiative, while the Netherlands pledged 250 million euros ($271 million).

Jires said in an interview with Bloomberg that the initiative is "demonstrating we are actually doing something, not waiting what is going to happen on the (Capitol) Hill."

The U.S. has been a key supplier of 155 mm shells to Ukraine, delivering some 2 million rounds since the outbreak of the full-scale war. Artillery ammunition is a crucial item used up in high quantities on Ukrainian battlefields, and delays in their supplies have contributed to the loss of Avdiivka, a key front-line city in Donetsk Oblast.

While the U.S. Senate approved a $95 billion aid bill, allocating $60 billion for Ukraine, Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson has so far refused to put it to a vote in his chamber.

Jires told Bloomberg that European countries are part of the initiative but did not specify which nor from where the shells are being sourced. Politico previously reported that the countries of origin could include South Korea, Turkey, or South Africa, but the claim has not been publicly confirmed.

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