Ukraine to start receiving ammunition worth €1.6bn through Czech scheme

Ukraine to start receiving ammunition worth €1.6bn through Czech scheme
Czech premier Petr Fiala: “The situation is entering a critical point. We have to increase our efforts and find new ways to strengthen Ukrainian defence." / bne IntelliNews
By Albin Sybera May 29, 2024

Ukraine is to soon start receiving ammunition from a total of €1.6bn raised via a Czech-led  initiative for purchasing ammunition from outside the EU.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said that 15 EU member states have already contributed more than €1.6bn to the initiative. He added Ukraine could expect the first shipment of calibre 155mm ammunition in early June.

Czech President Petr Pavel first unveiled the ammunition plans in February, revealing that Prague had identified 500,000 155mm shells and 300,000 122mm shells located outside Europe, poised for purchase and dispatch to Ukraine pending the allocation of necessary funds. The initiative hopes to source some 1.5mn, though the funds so far pledged would only be able to purchase roughly a quarter of that.

The first shipment would be some 180,000 shells, Pavel said recently. According to the government, some 500,000 rounds could be delivered to Ukraine by the end of the year.

The Czech-led initiative is seen as important in supplying Ukraine with much-needed ammunition stocks, compensating for the West's sluggishness in building up capacity to manufacture ammunition. Prague has taken the lead – helping boost its international profile – because of its continuing links from during the Cold War with mainly developing countries that hold ammunition stocks.

Fiala made the comments on May 28 when he hosted his Ukrainian counterpart Denys Shmyhal, as well as Polish President Andrzej Duda and the prime ministers of Denmark, Metter Frederiksen, the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, and Latvia, Evika Silina. Deputy US Foreign Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs James O'Brien was also present. In parallel, Czech Minister of Defence Jana Cernochova held talks in Brussels over the ammunition initiative.

“The situation is entering a critical point. We have to increase our efforts and find new ways to strengthen Ukrainian defence. That is why we are here today,” Fiala stated.

Discussion at the meetings also included “how to secure systems of air defence and strengthening of our cooperation in the defence industry”, Fiala said.

In an interview for Czech Radio, Fiala's advisor for national security, Tomas Pojar, confirmed the arrival of the first pieces of ammunition to Ukraine in early June. 

"I think we can promise that every month from June onwards several tens of thousands of ammunition calibre 155 will arrive in Ukraine and we will be glad if these commitments get prolonged by the end of the year," Pojar said in an interview. 

Since the announcement of the Czech initiative in February, some 20 nations, including Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Poland, France, Denmark, and Slovenia, have contributed funds. Lithuania this week became the latest country to join.

“By signing the memorandum of understanding [MoU]  Lithuania has joined it,” the Czech government’s X/Twitter social media account posted, adding that Lithuania will contribute with €35mn.