Seven EU countries have ordered ammunition under a landmark European Union procurement scheme to get urgently needed artillery shells to Ukraine and replenish depleted Western stocks, according to the EU agency in charge.
The orders – placed under contracts negotiated by the European Defence Agency (EDA) – are for 155mm artillery rounds, one of the most important munitions in the intense war of attrition between Ukraine’s troops and Russia’s invading forces.
The scheme was set up as part of a plan worth at least two billion euros, launched in March, with the aim of getting one million of artillery shells and missiles to Ukraine within a year.
Some officials and diplomats have expressed scepticism that the target will be met but the initiative marked a significant step in the EU’s growing role in defence and military affairs, spurred by the war in Ukraine.
Until now, defence procurement has largely been the preserve of the bloc’s individual 27 member governments.
“Seven Member States have already placed orders for 155mm ammunition through the EDA’s fast-track procedure,” the agency said in an email in response to questions from Reuters.
“More orders, for instance for national replenishment purposes, could materialise in the coming weeks and months.”
The agency declined to name the countries, saying it was up to each government to announce its orders. In response to a query from Reuters, Lithuania’s Defence Ministry confirmed it was one of the countries.
The EDA also declined to state the value and quantity of the orders, saying much of the information was confidential.
But it said the deals were for both complete shells and for components, such as fuses, projectiles, charges and primers.
It said the scheme covered four “modern firing platforms designed and produced in Europe … and most commonly used by the Ukrainian armed forces”, naming them as France’s CAESAR, Poland’s Krab, Germany’s PzH2000 and Slovakia’s Zuzana C/2000.
By placing orders before the end of this month, the countries are eligible to apply for reimbursement from an EU-run fund, the European Peace Facility, for ammunition procured for Ukraine.