Czech president says finance for Ukraine ammunition secured

Czech president says finance for Ukraine ammunition secured
Czech President Petr Pavel was the first Czech official to comment on the coordination plan openly during the Munich Security Conference last month. / bne IntelliNews
By Albin Sybera March 8, 2024

Czech President Petr Pavel has said Czechia has secured the finances to purchase ammunition for Ukraine from outside the EU.

“As of this morning, we have collected the full amount for the purchase of all of the ammunition, that is, the 800,000 pieces,” Pavel told Czech media on March 7, during his visit to the Central Bohemian region.  

Pavel was the first Czech official to comment on the coordination plan openly during the Munich Security Conference last month when he said, “we have identified half a million pieces of 155-millimetre calibre ammunition and 300,000 pieces of 122-millimetre calibre ammunition”.

He said that the plan draws on the extensive contacts of the Czech weaponry companies around the world. Communist Czechoslovakia was one of the world's biggest arms producers and some of its companies have maintained these links.

Several countries have since then said they would join the initiative by chipping in finances to purchase the ammunition. During his visit to Prague earlier this week, French President Emmanuel Macron said France supports the plan, while last week, Belgium and the Netherlands backed it publicly.  Among other nations said to have expressed support are Canada, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania and Denmark.

Pavel declined to comment on the amount individual states contributed when talking to journalists on Thursday. “It would probably not be fair to these states which contributed,” he stated, though he said that Norway had now joined.

“It is now up to the skill of our companies and the Ministry of Defence if they can speed up the process,” he said.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala also commented on the initiative following Pavel’s statement. “I am glad that we are able to cooperate with so many partners around the world to offer the needed help. I can guarantee that this year hundreds of thousands of pieces of shells will be delivered,” Fiala was quoted as saying by the Czech Press Agency.

The Financial Times reported that the whole purchase is worth $1.5bn (€1.4bn).

Czech National Security Advisor Tomas Pojar later clarified Pavel's words, telling daily DenikN that "Mr. President was probably talking about the first shipment; we don't have the full initiative covered yet".  

"We don't have and never had any target amount and we still register unsatisfied requests on the Ukrainian side and ammunition offers on the world market," Pojar was quoted as saying. 

Ukraine is being outgunned along the frontline by the invading Russian army in the east and southeast of its territory. The BBC reported that following the capture of the strategic town of Avdiivka in February, the invading forces have taken several villages, prompting civilians close to the front to flee or brace for more Russian advances.  

To meet the ammunition shortages, the EU had promised to supply one million rounds by the end of March. However, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelinskiy told a European Union summit last month that the alliance had failed to deliver. “Out of a million shells that the European Union promised us, it was not 50% but unfortunately 30% that were delivered,” Zelinskiy said.