Estonian and Swedish defense ministers discuss more ammunition for Ukraine
On Thursday, Estonian Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) met with his Swedish counterpart Pål Jonson in Tartu. The ministers discussed the potential production of one million artillery shells to send to Ukraine, as well as bilateral defense cooperation between their two countries.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian artillery soldiers training in Estonia explained, that they need more ammunition. EU defense ministers are due to meet next week to discuss Estonia's proposal to send one million artillery shells to Ukraine.
Estonian Minister of Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur (Reform) discussed the issue with his Swedish counterpart Pål Jonson on Thursday in Tartu. Sweden holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first half of 2023.
"As Sweden holds the presidency (of the Council of the European Union) at the moment, we would very much like Sweden to seriously consider this, in order that a political decision is made during their presidency. The idea is very simple. The first point is, that new funds are needed. Point two: European industries will be involved in increasing the capacity of European industries. And the third point is, that this has to be done very quickly," Pevkur said.
Currently, half a dozen EU countries produce artillery shells. Ukraine also has a significant amount of Soviet-produced weapons at its disposal, which use 152 mm and 122 mm caliber shells.
According to Magnus Saar, director of the Estonian Center for Defense Investments (ECDI), EU countries currently produce less than half a million rounds of 155 mm NATO-standard artillery caliber ammunition per year. The majority of this is made to fulfill pre-existing orders. However, Saar believes nothing is impossible if European countries provide ammunition producers with the right incentives.
"If you put that €4 billion into the market and create the motivation, then companies will find a way to deliver (the ammunition) relatively quickly. Particularly if getting that money has some kind of time constraint attached to it. For example, contracts last for a year and then after that you go to suppliers outside the EU and outside Europe in general," Saar said.
Outside Europe, the production capacities are larger, Saar said, pointing to the examples of South Korea and South Africa, which are not currently supplying ammunition to Ukraine. Nevertheless, he pointed out, it would be possible for EU-based manufacturers to produce one million missiles a year.
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Editor: Michael Cole