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Media: Czech-led initiative concludes deals for 1 million shells for Ukraine

by Martin Fornusek March 28, 2024 10:03 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. (Illustrative purposes only). (Lionel Bonaventure/Getty Images)
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A Czech-led initiative had concluded contracts for 1 million artillery shells for Ukraine, with shipments expected already in April, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported on March 28, citing undisclosed sources.

The claim cannot be independently verified, as Prague made no public announcement.

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 to the initiative.

Corriere della Sera wrote that in addition to the 800,000 shells, Czech officials found 200,000 more rounds to be purchased for Ukraine. It remains unclear from which countries the ammunition is sourced.

The newspaper said that the estimated cost of the contracts amounted to 1.8 billion euros ($1.9 billion).

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.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky told Bloomberg earlier this week that the initiative can go much further than the initially announced number, possibly supplying as many as 1.5 million shells.

There has been some confusion regarding the initiative in the past. Pavel announced already on March 7 that all the necessary funds for 800,000 shells had been collected. Other Czech officials later corrected his statement, saying that the purchase of only 300,000 shells had been secured while the search for further financing was ongoing.

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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