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27 Oct, 2023 10:06

EU lawmakers propose ‘creative’ way to arm Ukraine

The bloc should give Kiev armored vehicles seized en route to Libya, several MEPs have suggested
EU lawmakers propose ‘creative’ way to arm Ukraine

A group of MEPs wants the EU to provide Ukraine with military vehicles intercepted by the bloc en route to Libya. “The US is doing it, so why can’t we?” asked Bart Groothuis, the leading supporter of the idea.

The proposal is advanced by the Dutch MEP with the backing of France’s Nathalie Loiseau, the chair of the European Parliament’s defense subcommittee, and Belgium’s Guy Verhofstadt, media outlets reported this week.

The arms in question comprise two shipments that were seized by the EU’s military mission IRINI for allegedly violating the UN arms embargo targeting Libya, the Dutch broadcaster RTL News said on Wednesday.

One shipment included 41 BATT UMG armored vehicles produced in the UAE, which was intercepted in mid-October 2022. The American product is based on a Ford F550 chassis and is already used by Ukraine. The other is a batch of more than 100 Toyota off-road vehicles, which have been converted to incorporate a mounted gun and some armor, which was seized in the summer of the same year.

Converted civilian vehicles were highly popular among militant groups fighting in the 2011 civil war in Libya, during which NATO backed the anti-government forces with an air campaign. The North African country has remained split among various groups and mired with violence for more than a decade.

Groothuis told RTL News that diverting the vehicles, which are currently detained in Marseille, France, to Ukraine would send “a very clear signal to Russia that Europe wants to do everything it can.”

Speaking to Politico, he cited as precedent a US decision to deliver some 1.1 million rounds of ammunition, which it seized in December. The shipment had allegedly been sent by Iran to Yemen. Groothuis urged the EU to act the same way and said he had pitched the idea to ambassadors of two member states, who were “very enthusiastic and said it’s very creative.”

The US and its allies have pledged to support Ukraine against Russia for “as long as it takes” to defeat Moscow, but the commitment has been undermined by a number of issues, including the limited quantity of physical weapons that can be poured into Kiev’s war effort.

Western donors have reportedly exhausted available stockpiles of old Soviet weapons, as well as providing NATO-standard arms and munitions that they had in reserve. They are struggling to ramp up military production to keep up with Kiev’s needs.

The EU, in particular, is lagging behind on its pledge to send one million artillery shells to Kiev by next spring, Bloomberg reported this week. Only around 30% of the promised amount has been delivered so far, the outlet said.

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