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  • Writer's pictureAnton Kuchuhidze

International Press Review dated 11 - 22 March 2024

In the latest weeks, the international media talked mostly about the need for ammunition supplies for Ukraine to replenish depleted resources. Position of the Czech Republic was the most impressive. This country is actively looking for and purchasing ammunition from other countries, which is extremely important at this stage of the escalation of the war. Currently, a dozen and a half countries have already joined the Czech initiative, including Germany, France, the Netherlands, Canada and others.


The Czech Republic leads the coalition for the supply of artillery shells to Ukraine, The Wall Street Journal reports. The Czech Republic has purchased about 800,000 artillery shells from various suppliers around the world and has identified another 700,000 that could be purchased with additional funds. According to the Czech cabinet, more shells will be provided as funding becomes available. Some military analysts say Ukraine needs up to 200,000 shells of various calibres every month to repel the new offensive. Supplies coordinated by the Czech Republic could help Ukraine's defenders contain a russian offensive while the West slowly builds up its own weapons production.


Unlike the US, France and Germany, which have mainly focused on increasing domestic production to supply Ukraine, Czech government officials said that their initiative is focused on finding sources of supply of already existing weapons. Czech government officials begin to covertly travel the world, concluding sales agreements and negotiating export licenses with dozens of producing countries.


Reuters notes that the Netherlands plans to give Ukraine 350 million euros for F-16 ammunition and modern reconnaissance drones. This was announced on Wednesday in Kyiv by Minister of Defence of the Netherlands Kajsa Ollongren.


At the meeting of Ukraine's allies at the Rammstein platform, Ollongren said 150 million euro would be allocated to funding air-to-surface guided missiles that can be launched from F-16, and 200 million dollars will be allocated to reconnaissance and surveillance drones.


Besides Le Monde points out that Germany, France and Poland promised to purchase more weapons for Kyiv and increase the production of military equipment with their partners in Ukraine, promising that Ukraine can join the trio in its attempts to overcome the shortage of European military resources. Details are withheld to protect confidentiality.


Mr. Macron stated, "A new era is coming, and we will be there. The fact that the three of us are united on this day, assessing the situation in Ukraine with equal clarity, determined as never to prevent russia from winning and to support Ukrainian people to the end, is a strength for us, our people, our security and our Europe."


Despite a significant shortage of artillery, our heroic soldiers deter assaults and defend positions. It is very difficult. And in this context, President Zelenskyy aptly said, "We should not encourage russian evil either with weak decisions, or with delays in supply, or indecisiveness. Our joint successes should be felt by everyone in the world who values life."




Ukraine is about to receive large shipments of the ammunition it needs most. It won’t come from the U.S., or any other pillar of NATO.


Rather, the deal was clinched by a landlocked country of 10 million people sandwiched between Germany and Poland famed for its picturesque capital and the quality of its beer, but which was also home to a large arms industry.


The Czech Republic, once part of a Soviet satellite state and with little sympathy for Russia’s efforts to restore its lost empire, is one of Ukraine’s most ardent supporters. By activating relations dating back to the Cold War, it has sourced around 800,000 artillery shells from a diverse coalition of suppliers spanning the globe and identified another 700,000 that could be secured with extra funds.

 



The Biden administration said it was sending $300 million more in ammunition and other weapons to Kyiv in a stopgap move to boost Ukraine’s forces while Congress debates a new aid package.


The Pentagon plans to transfer artillery rounds, rockets for Ukraine’s Himars launchers, antiaircraft missile and antitank weapons, using funds in the Army budget left over from weapons contracts for replacing arms sent to Kyiv, officials said.


The new assistance package also includes additional shorter-range ATACMS missiles, an administration official said. That version of the weapon has a range of about 100 miles and is armed with cluster munitions.

 


German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that European countries would use the windfall profits generated by nearly $300 billion in frozen Russian assets to support weapons purchases for Ukraine, the first time Berlin has voiced support for the idea.


Western countries have been discussing how to deploy the frozen Russian central bank assets for more than a year. Hurdles remain in tapping the funds, but Scholz’s shift opens the way for action in coming months.


Speaking on Friday to reporters alongside French President Emmanuel Macron and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Scholz said the leaders had agreed on a number of measures to help Ukraine fight off Russian forces.

 



What is the best way to finance the reinforcement of Europe's defense, as well as that of Ukraine? The 27 European leaders that are scheduled to meet in Brussels on Thursday, March 21 will face this exact question. With Russia's success on the front in Ukraine; Kyiv's army suffering from a lack of ammunition and air defence systems; and $60 billion in US military aid still stalled by Congress in Washington, European countries must do more for Kyiv – but also for their own defense. They have therefore been exploring new funding options.

 



French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview published on the evening of Saturday, March 16, that Western ground operations in Ukraine might be necessary "at some point". Last month, Macron refused to rule out putting troops on the ground in Ukraine, which prompted a stern response from Berlin and other European partners.

 

The French president has not recanted from his position but stressed that Western allies would not take the initiative. "Maybe at some point – I don't want it, I won't take the initiative – we will have to have operations on the ground, whatever they may be, to counter the Russian forces," Macron told newspaper Le Parisien in an interview conducted on Friday. "France's strength is that we can do it".

 



Germany, France and Poland vowed Friday, March 15, to procure more weapons for Kyiv and step up production of military equipment along with partners in Ukraine, promising that the country can rely on the trio of European powers as it tries to overcome a shortage of military resources.


German Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomed French President Emmanuel Macron and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk for a hastily arranged summit of the so-called "Weimar Triangle" of the three countries. The meeting came as Russia votes in an election that is all but certain to extend President Vladimir Putin's rule.

 



The Netherlands is providing Ukraine with 350 million euros for F-16 fighter jet ammunition and advanced reconnaissance drones, Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren announced in Kyiv on Wednesday.


Speaking to Reuters in an interview at the conclusion of a two-day trip to Ukraine, Ollongren said she had come to show solidarity and announce the new aid package.


At the Ramstein group meeting of Ukraine's allies, Ollongren said 150 million euros will fund guided air-to-ground missiles that can be fired from F-16s, while 200 million will go to Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) drones, according to a Dutch defence ministry press release.

 



Portugal will contribute 100 million euros ($109 million) to a Czech-led initiative seeking to deliver ammunition to Ukraine from third nations, the country's defence ministry said.


The ministry said the initiative aimed to quickly deliver the largest possible quantity of ammunition of various calibres, particularly 155 milimetres.


"The use of these munitions on the battlefield has reached extremely high levels, which makes it vital and urgent for Ukraine to obtain additional munitions to respond to Russia's continued and more intense attacks," it said in a statement late on Thursday.

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