Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba confirmed on Nov. 13 that the EU is behind schedule to deliver 1 million artillery shells, citing the poor state of the European defense industry as the reason.
Bloomberg reported on Nov. 10 that the EU is unlikely to deliver all of the pledged 1 million artillery shells to Ukraine by the March 2024 target.
Kuleba acknowledged on television that the report by Bloomberg was correct, adding that Ukraine is "doing a lot of loud ringing of alarm bells."
Head of Ukraine's diplomacy believes that the problem is not a lack of political will in the EU but defense industry problems and a "lot of unsynchronized issues, a lot of bureaucracy."
However, the work to address these issues is underway, he added.
"The European Union is working to remedy these problems, and that is why, while in Berlin, I called on the European Union to develop a coherent policy in the field of defense industries," Kuleba said.
"But we need faster actions and more of them. And we do really appreciate the support of the European Union, but we will push them (on this)."
According to a plan approved by the EU in March, the bloc would provide Ukraine with a million shells within a span of one year. The first step of the program involves reimbursing supplies from member states' own stocks, the second step is joint purchase of new munitions.
On Nov. 13, the EU's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, acknowledged that Ukraine will not receive all the 1 million shells by the end of 2023. The bloc has completed the first step of the program by delivering some 300,000 shells from EU arsenals, he noted.
According to Borrell, the speed of the next step "will depend on how quickly the contract will be implemented and how quickly the factories will produce... keeping in mind that Europe is also exporting a certain amount of their production."
The bloc's plan to ramp up shell production to boost Ukraine's artillery capabilities has been plagued by bureaucracy and protectionism of individual countries, an investigation by the Kyiv Independent and its partners revealed.
Ukraine's need for munition supplies becomes ever more pressing as Russia is boosting its defense budget for 2024 and was reportedly able to secure over 1 million shells from North Korea, while political infighting in Washington causes cutbacks in U.S. military support for Kyiv.