EU scrambles to replenish arms stockpiles

A €500 million plan will allow EU members to jointly buy weapons and save money

In what it called a “historic step,” the European Commission agreed on Tuesday to a €500 million ($512 million) plan that would allow EU members to jointly procure weapons to address the urgent need to replenish a defense products deficit stemming from the Ukraine conflict.

The proposal is supposed to incentivize at least three EU members to buy weapons jointly, the body said in a statement. It also seeks to avoid competition among the bloc’s members for the same products and facilitate cost savings. The measure is expected to be financed by EU funds for the next two years.

“Today we are taking a historic step forward in European defense integration. As war rages on at Europe’s borders, we are responding to the call of EU Heads of State by presenting today a new instrument to support … the joint acquisition of weapons,” said Thierry Breton, the EU Commissioner for the Internal Market.

According to him, the move will not only help replenish the stocks that were depleted due to supplies sent to Ukraine, but will also provide an incentive for member states to buy together. The proposal also aims to boost the capabilities of the European defense industrial complex by ramping up its manufacturing capacities.

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EU ramps up military support to Ukraine

The announcement comes a day after the EU agreed to allocate an additional 500 million euros in military aid to Ukraine. With the approval of the fifth assistance package, the bloc’s aid to Kiev reached €2.5 billion ($2.5bn).  

After Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine, many Western countries – including the EU – pledged to support Kiev in every possible way, including military aid. Moscow, however, has consistently warned the West against providing Ukraine with weapons, arguing that they would only prolong the conflict and create long-term issues.

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian president Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.

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