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Bloomberg: Prague's ammunition initiative may supply 1.5 million shells to Ukraine, Czech FM says

by Martin Fornusek March 26, 2024 7:59 PM 2 min read
Ukrainian soldiers reload an artillery unit on the front line, in the direction of the Kreminna in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, on Jan. 30, 2024. (Ignacio Marin/Anadolu via Getty Images)
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Czechia's initiative to supply artillery shells for Ukraine may deliver as many as 1.5 million rounds, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky said in an interview with Bloomberg published on March 26.

Czech President Petr Pavel said in February that Prague had identified 500,000 155 mm shells and 300,000 122 mm shells outside of Europe that could be bought and sent to Ukraine after the necessary funds were allocated to the initiative.

"We can do much more than the initially announced number," Lipavsky told Bloomberg on March 25, saying that the number may be as high as 1.5 million.

A number of countries have thrown their support behind the initiative, pledging hundreds of millions of dollars. Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said on March 12 that the initiative has already secured the purchase of 300,000 shells and received nonbinding commitments for 200,000 more.

"As we see, it already helps Ukraine to fight better, because they know that they will have a supply of fresh ammunition, which changed their perspective on usage of the current stockpiles," Lipavsky commented.

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Ukraine has been facing increasingly severe ammunition shortages in recent months, contributing to the loss of a key front-line city of Avdiivka in February. The EU has delivered 500,000 shells by March, half of the original pledged number, promising to supply the rest by the end of 2024.

The U.S. provided some artillery rounds in its recent $300 million defense package but additional aid from Washington remains effectively blocked as a $60 billion aid bill remains stuck in Congress.

Lipavsky stressed that Prague's initiative by itself is not enough to cover Kyiv's needs.

While the Czech foreign minister declined to give a timeline for the delivery of the shells, Tomas Pojar, a Czech national security adviser, said earlier that the first batches could be sent to Ukraine as early as June.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba noted that the fulfillment of the initiative is designed for a year, but the earliest shell deliveries to the front line "will not take many months."

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8:28 PM

FT: Russia may be gearing up for large-scale offensive against Ukraine.

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