Shopping for Ukraine? There is nowhere to take it in Europe, says the analyst | iRADIO

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EU leaders approved the money for Ukraine on Thursday. They agreed that the EU must speed up supplies of ammunition and missiles to Ukraine. Only half a million grenades will be delivered by March, not the promised million. Prime Minister Petr Fiala from the ODS suggested that they also buy from countries outside the EU. “Some member states, such as France, do not want to make these purchases outside the EU,” Daniel Koštoval, an analyst at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the CEVRO Institute, tells Radiožurnál.



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Prague/Brussels
2:43 p.m February 3, 2024

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A Ukrainian soldier prepares an artillery shell near Bakhmut in the Donetsk region | Photo: Inna Varenytsia | Source: Reuters

Is there anything controversial about the fact that artillery ammunition for Ukraine would also be provided from countries outside the European Union?
From the point of view of fulfilling the security interests not only of the Czech Republic, but also of the entire European Union, or rather the North Atlantic Alliance, this is of course not controversial. On the contrary, it is completely logical.

Listen to an interview with Daniel Koštoval, former Deputy Minister of Defense and analyst at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the CEVRO Institute

If we look at Russia, it is also not able to produce all the ammunition at home today and buys it everywhere in the world, including for example North Korea.

That is, it is a completely natural approach to the matter. When you have a specific need at a specific time and you are not able to fulfill it with your own production, you have to buy where possible.

The fact that the EU has a problem with its own promise was already discussed at the summit in November. Why didn’t the EU come up with it much earlier, when it saw that it could not fulfill that promise?
Because decisions in the EU, as very often before, were so-called off the table without a deeper analysis, either of industrial capabilities or of the market. And only over time did it become clear that the European defense industry is not able to fulfill the decisions or promises that the EU made at the highest level. This means, over time, it has become clear that promises and decisions will not be fulfilled. And we have to start solving ex post how to fix it quickly.

Already in November, the commissioner for the internal market, Thierry Breton, said that it is also a question of member countries, which must conclude contracts and order ammunition. How to explain it? Does it mean that European countries basically did not want to invest in ammunition for Ukraine or that they had nowhere to invest because there was nowhere to buy?
We have to realize one thing. The very low defense budgets over the last 20 years in Europe meant that the purchasing power of the individual defense ministries in the EU member states, or in the European part of the North Atlantic Alliance, was very low.


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This means that the demand was very low, no inventory was bought and it led to the fact that the production capacities in Europe were also significantly reduced in line with this low demand. Then, when suddenly there was a big demand, the companies were not ready because they had the production capacity set for the demand for the last 20 years. And governments, before they realized that the private sector can’t just do certain things according to the wishes of politicians, it would go bankrupt very quickly, that it needs contracts and long-term contracts to know what it is in for, so that it can start investing itself.

At the same time, governments have to realize that they have to start investing themselves so that the production capacities are again expanded to the required level. Not only because of Ukraine, but also because of ensuring our defense capability. But, of course, investing in the construction of a new industrial plant takes several years.

And going back to the current proposal, how difficult would it be to start buying ammunition from outside the EU? One of the candidates is, I suppose, South Korea.
It’s not complicated. You must have the money, you must want to buy it, and the subject must be able to fulfill your request. That means being able to sell that amount to you. This can happen practically within a week.

The problem in the EU is that some member states, such as France, do not want to make these purchases outside the EU because they want to use their own money to buy from their producers.

The question is if there is, as you said a moment ago.
That’s not the question, we see that. And at the same time, there is still a negative attitude of some countries that even if it is not anywhere in Europe, they are not willing to buy outside of Europe.

Vera Štechrová

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