EU arms stocks drastically depleted – Borrell
Stocks of weapons within the European Union are greatly depleted as member states continue to supply arms and ammunition to Ukraine for use in its conflict with Russia, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday.
“The military stocks of most member states have been, I wouldn’t say exhausted, but depleted in a high proportion, because we have been providing a lot of capacity to the Ukrainians,” Borrell said during a debate with lawmakers in the European Parliament, adding that the arsenal will “have to be refilled.”
The top diplomat said EU member states must start coordinating their military spending to avoid too many duplications and a waste of money.
If countries don’t coordinate properly, “the result will be a big waste of money, because this is not a way of canceling our duplications – there are a lot of them – or filling our gaps.”
EU countries have been sending weapons to Ukraine since Russia launched its military operation in the neighboring country in February – and Borrell has since discussed launching a bloc-wide training mission for Ukrainian troops.
On Monday, the chief diplomat said Brussels should have responded more quickly to requests for training Ukrainian troops a year ago.
“Unhappily we didn’t, and today we regret it. We regret that last August we were not following this request, fulfilling this request,” he said, adding that “we would be in a better situation” if the EU had acted at the time.
The US and UK are already training Ukrainian troops in urban combat and instructing them on how to use Western-supplied weapons.
Some EU nations are also already hosting training for Ukrainian troops, but no coordinated bloc-wide, EU-level program has yet been implemented – and some countries have voiced concerns over the idea.
Luxembourg Defense Minister Francois Bausch told AFP last week that he was “not convinced” this would be the best way to help Kiev. Meanwhile, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto argued that each state should be allowed to make its own decision on the issue, telling Politico that it “should not be done at a European Union level.”
Moscow has repeatedly criticized the deliveries of weapons to Kiev by the West, saying it would only prolong the fighting and, also, increase the risk of a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO.