The EU lookes set to increase its military budget by a further €3.5bn. Defence chiefs from each of the bloc’s nations discussed the European Peace Facility budget earlier this week.
Around €1bn would reportedly be ringfenced for Ukraine as it continues to battle Russia following the invasion of Vladimir Putin’s forces in February last year. Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, is reported to have said “the overwhelming majority of member states” backed the bigger budget.
A total of 24 EU countries have reportedly signed up to the funding hike. Norway, which is not a member but is linked to the EU through the European Economic Area, is also said to have agreed the budget plan.
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Quoted in the Guardian, Mr Borrell said: “In Europe it’s very important at the moment [that] we develop an industrial base for defence which is very different to the one we have at the moment.”
He added that EU countries have reportedly supplied Ukraine with 220,000 artillery shells and 1,300 missiles since March.
Dwindling ammunition supplies among Ukrainian troops has come into sharp focus lately as the fight for Bakhmut, a city devastated by one of the longest battles of the war, rages on.
Reports claim that Russia has been firing 20,000 projectiles a day at some periods over the last year. And Ukraine’s need for firepower has increased amid supply challenges in the west.
“Our aim is to provide 1m projectiles over the next 12 months,” Borrell told the media. He added that the EU had now trained 20,000 Ukrainian soldiers and was on course to train 30,000 by the end of the year.
Member states have been encouraged to restart old defence assembly lines or enhance the capacity of existing defence contractors to bolster supply chains. And the EU will sanction the joint procurement of munitions by member states from the European defence industry. Some €1bn was decided upon for this purpose earlier this month.