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Media: Czech arms company plans to invest 'hundreds of millions' in Ukrainian defense

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 7, 2024 8:48 AM 2 min read
A Ukrainian soldier prepares 155mm artillery shells in his fighting position in Donetsk Oblast on Aug. 6, 2023. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Czech arms company Czechoslovak Group (CSG) plans to invest "hundreds of millions of euros" in Ukraine to boost its supply of ammunition and equipment, according to Bloomberg and Reuters on March 7.

Kyiv is currently facing a critical shortage of ammunition, as $61 billion in funding from the U.S. remains stuck in Congress, causing defense aid deliveries to run dry.

CSG is in talks with state-owned enterprise Ukrainian Defense Industry (UkrOboronProm) on a potential joint venture, billionaire owner Michal Strnad told journalists on March 6.

A joint venture would focus on heavy ammunition and equipment and would be similar to that of German arms company Rheinmetall, according to Reuters.

Like Rheinmetall, Strnad said CSG was looking for sites in Ukraine to manufacture artillery, tank shells, and heavy equipment. According to Bloomberg, CSG is already building new production facilities in Czechia to meet growing demand.

Though the plans are ambitious, Reuters said they would not be an "immediate fix" to Ukraine's current shell shortage.

There are two to three projects under discussion for joint ventures, the agreement for which "will probably be done this year," Reuters quoted Strnad. It will then take another "two to three years" for production.

CSG already produces ammunition, Tatra trucks, and armored vehicles, as well as modernizes Soviet T72 tanks for Ukraine.

The company has set around 150 pieces of equipment to Ukraine, funded by other EU or NATO countries, since the start of the full-scale invasion, Strnad told reporters.

Europe has "very limited capacities" in terms of artillery and tank ammunition, Strnad said.

Czech President Petr Pavel said in February at the Munich Conference that Prague had found 500,000 155 mm shells and 300,000 122 mm shells outside Europe that could be sent to Ukraine within weeks if the necessary funds were allocated to the initiative.

Countries including the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Canada have already publicly committed to the Czech-led initiative, and are reportedly close to raising the required funding to buy 800,000 artillery shells.

European Commission presents first-ever defense industrial strategy at EU level
The European Commission presented the first-ever European Defense Industrial Strategy (EDIS) at the EU level to support the competitiveness and readiness of the bloc’s defense industry, the commission’s press service announced on March 5.
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