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Finland pledges $36 million to Czech-led shell initiative for Ukraine

by Kateryna Denisova and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 19, 2024 5:56 PM 2 min read
Shells at the Forges de Tarbes workshop that produces 155mm shells, the munition for French Caesar artillery, in Tarbes, southwestern France, on April 4, 2023. (Lionel Bonaventure/Getty Images)
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Finland joined a Czech-led initiative to provide Ukraine with hundreds of thousands of artillery shells, pledging 30 million euros ($35.6 million) to the effort, Finnish Defense Minister Antti Hakkanen announced on March 19.

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.

Artillery shells are a crucial capability for Ukraine as the country faces critical ammunition shortages. Delays in U.S. military assistance, caused by disputes in Congress, have already had a direct impact on the battlefield, contributing to the loss of the key front-line city of Avdiivka.

Hakkanen discussed with Lieutenant General Karel Rehka, the commander of the Czech Armed Forces, how to boost support for European defense and Ukraine as well as Prague ammunition initiative, Finnish minister said on X.

Finland has already provided around 1.8 billion euros ($1.95 billion) in military aid to Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion. Helsinki also joined the artillery and demining collations, one of many allied initiatives launched under the Ukraine Defense Contact Group to support individual sectors of Ukraine's Armed Forces.

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.

According to Fiala's security advisor, Tomas Pojar, the rounds could start flowing to Ukraine by June.

WSJ: Ammunition suppliers for Czech-led initiative to aid Ukraine include Russian allies, Czech officials say
The ammunition suppliers taking part in the Czech-led initiative to provide Ukraine with artillery shells include “some allies of Russia,” the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported, citing unnamed Czech officials.

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