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19 Mar, 2024 04:01

EU boss calls for ‘war economy’

The bloc will double its production of artillery shells by the end of 2024, Charles Michel has said
EU boss calls for ‘war economy’

The EU must drastically ramp up defense production to help Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, European Council President Charles Michel said on Monday. The call comes as Kiev has increasingly warned of ammunition shortages.

In an op-ed published by the La Libre Belgique newspaper and the Euractiv website, Michel claimed that Moscow “is a serious military threat to our European continent and global security. 

If we do not get the EU’s response right and do not give Ukraine enough support to stop Russia, we are next,” he added. 

The EU Council chief argued that “for decades, Europe has failed to invest sufficiently in our security and defense,” and now urgently needs a “a radical and irreversible shift in our thinking towards a strategic security mindset.” 

We must therefore be defense-ready and shift to a ‘war economy’ mode. It’s time to take responsibility for our security. We can no longer count on others or be at the mercy of election cycles in the US or elsewhere.

The bloc’s defense production has increased by 50% since the start of the Ukraine conflict in February 2022, Michel said, adding that the bloc will “double ammunition production to over 2 million shells yearly, by the end of next year.”

The EU has been struggling to procure enough weapons and ammunition for Kiev’s needs as Ukrainian and international politicians and experts, as well as soldiers on the battlefield, are blaming shortages for the losses of territory to Russia. The shipments were further delayed when US President Joe Biden’s $61 billion aid package stalled in Congress due to political in-fighting between Democrats and Republicans. The bill remains in limbo due to opposition from GOP legislators.

The situation with the supply of Western air defense systems to Kiev is particularly dire, according to the New York Times. The newspaper cited an official US assessment in early February which stated that, without replenishment, Ukraine’s air defenses could operate only until March 2024.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has renewed his call for additional deliveries, warning in February that an “artificial deficit of weapons” would only help Russia.