Defense minister: We need decisions, not discussions about decisions

Hanno Pevkur in Brussels on November 14, 2023.
Hanno Pevkur in Brussels on November 14, 2023. Source: Ministry of Defense

Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) on Tuesday in Brussels called for faster EU decision making on defense matters and supplying ammunition for Ukraine.

On Tuesday, EU defense ministers met to discuss critical infrastructure resilience and defense industry financing. They also discussed the slow progress of the joint ammunition agreement to buy one million artillery shells for Ukraine.

"Today we are in a situation, where we need to make real decisions, not discuss the need for making decisions," Pevkur said in a statement.

The minister said Estonia is trying to lead by example.

"Last Friday, we opened a fast-track procurement process for acquiring 155mm ammunition rounds to the value of €280 million. Over the next four years, nearly 30 percent of our defense budget will go towards ammunition. This is a clear signal for the defense industry: go ahead and shift production into next gear," he said. 

The ministers all received the latest information on the status of the million rounds of ammunition initiative. Pevkur said expectations set in the spring have not been met.

EU ministers meeting. Source: European Union

"If member states are neither prepared to provide from their stocks nor able to increase production, we have to refurbish ammunition and procure from third states. Expired ammunition cannot go to waste. Ukraine does not have time to wait. Estonia has made its contribution from stocks and is prepared to give more," the minister said.

The bloc's military aid mission for training the Ukrainian armed forces has fulfilled its objectives, he said, but added: "There is room here to expand training."

The ministers also discussed critical infrastructure protection NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg,

"Recent incidents show that undersea infrastructure is vulnerable. To deter future attacks and ensure greater security, we need to raise the level of situational awareness, which is where there are opportunities for the EU and NATO to work together," Pevkur said, referring to the investigations into damaged gas pipeline Balticconnector and several communications cables.

The ministers also issued a joint statement that agreed to raise European production capacity and strengthen the European defense technological and industrial base.

"We supported the joint statement, which outlines the bottlenecks in financing the defense industry as well as the possible solutions. In other words, solutions for how to allow the defense industry to use banks to finance the investments they need to make right now to help boost manufacturing capacity faster," explained Pevkur.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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