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Czech-led artillery initiative still lacks funds, says Estonian defense minister

by Chris York March 30, 2024 1:24 PM 2 min read
Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur speaks to reporters at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, on Oct. 18, 2022.
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The Czech-led initiative to secure critically-needed artillery shells for Ukraine’s armed forces still lacks the funds needed to purchase them, Estonia’s Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur said on March 29.

Czech President Petr Pavel said in February that Czechia 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.

On March 28, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported the initiative had concluded contracts for 1 million artillery shells for Ukraine, though Pevkur’s comments now throw this into doubt.

“If we are talking about a million projectiles, it is about three billion euros,” he said. “There are different calibers, smaller ones are a little cheaper. It would be great if everything could be done.

“At the moment, we can say that money is lacking more than projectiles.”

Pevkur also highlighted further difficulties in the process, saying that as well as locating the shells themselves, they all need to be checked to ensure they are in proper working condition.

A number of states have thrown their support behind the initiative, including Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Poland, France, and others, with only some of them revealing the size of their contributions.

Ukraine has been facing 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 to Ukraine 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 is effectively blocked as a $60 billion aid bill remains stuck in Congress.

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