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Ukraine war latest: EU unlikely to deliver 1 million artillery shells to Ukraine by March 2024, media reports

by The Kyiv Independent news desk November 11, 2023 12:23 AM 12 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. Caesar self-propelled howitzers are being actively used on Ukraine's front line. (Lionel Bonaventure/Getty Images)
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Key developments on Nov. 10:

  • Bloomberg: EU unlikely to deliver 1 million artillery shells to Ukraine by March 2024
  • Orban: 'EU must not start membership talks with Ukraine'
  • Military intelligence: Ukraine hits 2 light Russian landing crafts in Crimea
  • Over 30,000 Ukrainian recruits receive training in UK
  • Pentagon: Next Ramstein-format summit to be held in mid-November, aid packages getting smaller
  • Russian attacks kill 3, injure 8 over past day

The EU believes it is unlikely to deliver all pledged 1 million artillery shells to Ukraine by the March 2024 target, Bloomberg reported on Nov. 10, citing undisclosed sources.

According to a plan approved by the EU in March, the bloc would provide Ukraine with a million shells within a span of a year.

The first step of the program involves reimbursing supplies from member states' own stocks, the second step is joint purchase of new munitions.

Bloomberg reported earlier in October that with more than half of the allocated time gone, the EU has delivered only 30% of planned supplies and risks missing its target.

This week, the EU's foreign policy arm, the European External Action Service, reportedly told member states' diplomats that the delivery will most likely not be completed by March next year, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

Some of the members have been reluctant to reveal details on their supply efforts, and the EU may ask them to provide more information, sources told the news outlet.

The issue is reportedly to be discussed during an EU defense ministers' meeting next week.

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 has become 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.

Investigation: EU inability to ramp up production behind acute ammunition shortages in Ukraine
Editor’s note: This investigation is a collaboration between the Kyiv Independent and partners, including The Investigative Desk, Lighthouse Reports, and Follow the Money (Netherlands), El Diario (Spain), Delfi (Estonia), and Libération (France). Key findings: * Over a year into Russia’s full-sca…

Officials from the European Union also said that the United Arab Emirates agreed to begin restricting the export of sensitive materials with potential military use to Russia, Bloomberg reported earlier on Nov. 9, citing unnamed sources.

The move would cover re-export as well. According to Bloomberg's sources, Turkey is also considering implementing a similar measure.

The European Commission and the Turkish Trade Ministry declined to comment, Bloomberg said.

In an emailed statement to Bloomberg, officials from the UAE said that it "restricts the export and re-export of identified dual-use products to conflict zones and has a legal export control framework in place through which it continuously monitors the export of dual-use products."

Western officials gathered in the UAE in September to discuss strategies to counter sanctions evasion. “The UAE is working with its friends and allies to address any concerns with regards to sanctions on Russia,” a UAE official said at the time.

Although wide-ranging sanctions have been imposed on Russia since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, including 11 packages from the EU, Russia has continued to receive Western-made components that it uses in the manufacturing of weapons and munitions used to attack Ukraine.

In particular, Russia often uses third-party countries, such as the UAE, as a means of disguising that the final destination of sanctioned goods is actually Russia.

In addition, dual-use technologies that may have both military and commercial uses- can sometimes make it through loopholes in sanctions enforcement.

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Orban: 'EU must not start membership talks with Ukraine'

The European Union "must not start membership talks with Ukraine," Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said to state radio on Nov. 10, as cited by Reuters.

Hungary has a "clear stance" on the issue, he said, and it is not connected to other issues that Hungary has with the EU.

"I would like to make it very clear that the Hungarian rejection of the start of talks with Ukraine over EU membership is not subject to a business deal ...It cannot be linked to the issue of funds that Hungary is entitled to get."

Orban claimed that the EU owes Hungary billions of euros in EU funds that have been suspended since 2022 over concerns about the deteriorating rule of law in the country and rising corruption.

Orban's comments came two days after Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said that Ukraine is not ready to join the bloc.

Other Hungarian officials have issued similar statements, providing various reasons why they would oppose Ukraine joining.

The issue of protections for Ukraine's Hungarian minority, especially concerning language rights, has often been mentioned.

A Ukrainian language law instituted in 2017 requires at least 70% of education above fifth grade to be conducted in Ukrainian.

In response to complaints, Ukrainian officials have said there is no intention to crack down on linguistic minorities but rather to ensure that every Ukrainian citizen has sufficient knowledge of Ukraine's official language.

President Volodymyr Zelensky signed an amendment to the national minorities law on Nov. 3, expanding the protections for minority languages.

The issue of minority language rights is highly sensitive in Ukraine, as Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has justified the full-scale invasion as being necessary to protect Russian speakers in the country.

Since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Hungary has repeatedly obstructed EU funds for Kyiv while opposing sanctions against Russia.

Orban, who maintains close ties with the Kremlin, has refused to provide military aid to Ukraine and claimed that Kyiv's counteroffensive was destined to fail.

Orban and Szijjarto have met with high-ranking Russian officials, including Putin, since Feb. 24, 2022. Szijjarto has also traveled to Russia five times since the beginning of the full-scale invasion.

Most Hungarians have expressed their disapproval of Orban's meeting with Putin at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on Oct. 17.

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Military intelligence: Ukraine hits 2 light Russian landing crafts in Crimea

A Ukrainian strike on occupied Crimea overnight on Nov. 10 hit two high-speed landing crafts, the Ukrainian military intelligence (HUR) spokesperson confirmed to the Kyiv Independent.

The HUR published a video of the attack, showing camera footage of what appears to be a surface drone ramming into the Russian vessels.

The damaged vessels were Serna-class boats carrying crew and armored vehicles, such as BTR-82, the HUR clarified later on its Telegram channel.

Boats of this model have been used by Russian forces to carry equipment and troops to then-occupied Zmiinyi (Snake Island), the military intelligence noted.

"A small landing ship of the Serna class has high speed, can accommodate up to 45 tons of cargo and 92 armed landing troops," intelligence wrote on Telegram.

The vessels can also be equipped with Tor-M2 air defenses and provide vital protection to the rest of the Russian Black Sea Fleet amid escalating Ukrainian attacks.

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There have been reports of numerous explosions near the town of Chornomorske in Russian-occupied Crimea, the Telegram channel Crimean Wind reported on Nov. 10.

Eyewitnesses cited by the channel said that military barracks were presumably hit.

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that two drones had been shot down over the peninsula.

The seaside town of Chornomorske lies at the western edge of the Crimean peninsula, some 120 kilometers northwest of Simferopol.

National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksii Danilov said on Nov. 8 that Ukraine has been making "huge gains" in destroying Russian military assets in occupied Crimea.

In the past weeks and months, Kyiv reported successful attacks on high-value targets in Crimea, including S-400 air defenses, the modern Askold Karakurt-class warship, and other military vessels.

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Over 30,000 Ukrainian recruits receive training in UK

More than 30,000 Ukrainian recruits have received training in the U.K. under the British-led Operation Interflex since June 2022, the U.K. Defense Ministry announced on Nov. 10.

This brings the total number of Ukrainian soldiers trained in the U.K. under Interflex and its predecessor, Operation Orbital, since the start of Russian aggression in 2014 to more than 52,000.

Interflex aimed to provide combat and survival skills to 30,000 Ukrainian volunteers with little to no military experience by the end of 2023, meaning this milestone was reached ahead of schedule.

The project is supported by ten partner countries, including Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Australia, and, since Nov. 10, Romania.

"I'm delighted we will exceed the target for this year and thank the U.K. trainers and our international partners who have worked night and day to reach the milestone ahead of schedule," U.K. Defense Minister Grant Shapps said.

"I also pay tribute to the determination and resilience of the brave Ukrainian recruits that arrive on British shores."

"We notice the greater fighting capacity of the servicemen and women of the Armed Forces of Ukraine who successfully completed the Interflex training course," said Major General Oleksii Taran, the head of the General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces' training department.

"They have warfare and basic weapon handling skills, are trained to conduct combat operations in trenches and urban areas, have basic military medical training according to international protocols, and are knowledgeable about the Law of Armed Conflict," the general noted, also highlighting the recruits resilience under enemy fire.

The U.K. belongs to Ukraine's leading military donors, with $5.6 billion in defense assistance committed to Ukraine since the start of the full-scale invasion.

The support provided by London to Kyiv includes Storm Shadow long-range missiles, Challenger 2 tanks, logistical support, and more.

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Pentagon: Next Ramstein-format summit to be held in mid-November, aid package getting smaller

The 17th Ramstein-format summit of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group (UDCG) will be held in mid-November, Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh said on Nov. 9.

The UDCG comprises over 50 countries, including all 31 NATO members, and has been meeting regularly since April 2022 to coordinate military support for Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression.

The previous 16th Ramstein-format meeting was held in Brussels on Oct. 11. During the summit, which President Volodymyr Zelensky attended, the allies pledged to help Ukraine prepare for the upcoming winter by providing air defenses and other necessary support.

The U.S. continues to provide military aid to Kyiv, but the packages are getting smaller as Washington used all of the allocated USAI (Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative) funding, with only $1 billion left in existing resources to backfill U.S. stocks, Singh said.

"Allies and partners are continuing to support Ukraine, we are continuing to support Ukraine in what they need in their fight," the spokesperson said during a press briefing.

"You saw a package that we rolled out last week. We're going to continue to roll out packages, they just are getting smaller."

Singh urged Congress to back the $105-billion funding package presented by the White House, which includes $61 billion for Ukraine, so that the U.S. can continue to meet Kyiv's battlefield needs.

Funding to Ukraine has become a political controversy in the U.S. in recent weeks, with the Biden administration strongly backing continued support while partisan battles over aid rock the legislature.

The White House presented a broad funding package of $105 billion several weeks ago that tied together $61 billion in aid for Ukraine with around $14 billion for Israel, as well as other items.

This plan encountered opposition from House Republicans and recently appointed Speaker Mike Johnson, who said that backing Tel Aviv in its fight against Hamas takes priority and proposed a stand-alone funding bill for Israel.

Senate Democrats blocked a Republican-sponsored bill to provide emergency aid for Israel without sending any funds to Ukraine.

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Russian attacks kill 3, injure 8 over past day

Russian forces carried out attacks on 11 of Ukraine's oblasts over the past day, killing at least three people and injuring at least eight, local officials reported early on Nov. 10.

In Donetsk Oblast, Russian attacks injured one person in Oleksandropil and one in Avdiivka, the Donetsk Oblast Military Administration reported.

Russian attacks on Kherson Oblast killed two people and injured five others, Governor Oleksandr Prokudin said.

The strikes damaged a kindergarten, a church, and other buildings in Kherson and elsewhere in the oblast, Prokudin said.

A Russian attack on Nikopol in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast killed one person and wounded another civilian, Governor Serhii Lysak reported on Telegram on Nov. 10.

The afternoon attack, which used two kamikaze drones, killed a 67-year-old woman and injured a 68-year-old man.

The man received medical treatment for shrapnel wounds, Lysak said.

Lysak reported earlier in the day that Russian forces used heavy artillery to attack the region around Nikopol overnight, damaging three homes.

The region was also targeted by Russian troops on Nov. 7, injuring a 31-year-old woman. Both kamikaze drones and artillery were used in the attack.

Nikopol, situated on the banks of the mostly dried-up Kakhovka Reservoir, just across from the Russian-occupied Enerhodar and Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, is a regular target of Russian attacks.

Ukrainian forces shot down five of the six Shahed "kamikaze" drones and one of the two cruise missiles launched by Russia overnight, the Air Force reported.

Ukraine's defenses eliminated the five drones, as well as the Kh-59 missile, over Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Poltava, and Kyiv oblasts, according to the Air Force.

Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Luhansk, Mykolaiv, Poltava, Sumy, and Zaporizhzhia oblasts came under attack, but local officials reported no casualties.

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