“Let’s give first, let’s deliver first, what Ukraine needs immediately. Because again, we know exactly what’s happening on the ground,” said Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner.
Breton said the EU still has a large potential production base, especially in the bloc’s east, which could be put to use with a concerted focus. “I am confident that we could be able to upskill our industrial base to be able to produce at least 1 million (rounds of) ammunition in Europe for Ukraine” over the next year, he said.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, “This is a critical part of Europe‘s strategic capacity to defend its interests and values, and help maintain peace on our continent.”
The EU has already funded the delivery of ammunition to Kiev from the stocks of member states to the tune of 1 billion euros and committed as such to boost joint procurement.
Besides ammunition, NATO allies and partner countries have delivered more than 98% of the combat vehicles promised to Ukraine during the war.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said last week the 31 NATO allies were committed to shoring up Ukraine’s military. Along with more than 1,550 armored vehicles, 230 tanks and other equipment, Ukraine’s allies have sent “vast amounts of ammunition” and also trained and equipped more than nine new Ukrainian brigades, the NATO chief said.
Washington said on Tuesday it was sending Ukraine about $300 million in additional military aid, including an enormous amount of artillery rounds, howitzers, air-to-ground rockets and ammunition as the launch of Ukraine’s planned spring counteroffensive approaches.
Zelensky in Helsinki for Nordic summit
On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Helsinki for a daylong Nordic summit, where he underscored the importance of NATO membership.
Zelensky pressed for Ukrainian membership in NATO at the conference, saying the "aim is to have full NATO membership, that is one the reasons I am here."
The Ukrainian president met with four Nordic prime ministers at the gathering at the residency of Finnish President Sauli Niinisto. The leaders discussed support for Ukraine. The wider summit will include Niinisto as well as the prime ministers of Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland.
Finland formally joined NATO last month after decades of nonalignment. Russia has denounced as "a dangerous historic mistake" Finland's membership in NATO, saying the move would weaken security in Northern Europe and increase the risk of conflict.
Finland shares a 1,340-kilometer eastern frontier with Russia, whose border with NATO has now doubled. Russia has vowed to bolster its military capacity in its western and northwestern regions, near the border with the Nordic country, if the alliance deploys any additional troops or equipment to its new member.
Senior officials in Moscow have time and again accused the West of becoming directly involved in the Ukraine war by supplying the country with weapons and training its soldiers.
Russia say the further expansion of NATO is an "encroachment on our security and on Russia's national interests."
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Source: Press TV
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