Czechs line up Canada, Denmark, others to fund ammunition supplies for Ukraine


  • World
  • Friday, 23 Feb 2024

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech Republic has backing from Canada, Denmark and others to help finance a fast purchase of hundreds of thousands of ammunition rounds from third countries to send to Ukraine, the Czech Defence Ministry said on Friday.

Ammunition supplies have become a critical issue for Kyiv as fighting against Russia's invasion enters a third year and has descended into grinding artillery battles.

The European Union, though, is falling short of its target of sending Ukraine 1 million rounds of artillery shells by March, and Czech President Petr Pavel flagged last week a Czech-led initiative of sourcing ammunition from other countries to get urgent aid to Ukraine's military.

The Czech Defence Ministry said on Friday that Canada and Denmark were involved but declined to give further details.

"There are other states (participating) that have the condition that they will not be mentioned," Defence Minister Jana Cernochova said in a statement, confirming remarks made to news website www.novinky.cz late on Thursday.

Pavel, speaking on a panel on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference last weekend, said allies should support Ukraine from "all sources available".

The Czechs, he said, had found 500,000 rounds of 155-calibre ammunition and 300,000 rounds of 122-calibre which could be delivered in weeks if funding was secured. He did not disclose the source or say how much they would cost.

The Financial Times reported on Friday that European capitals were seeking to raise $1.5 billion in emergency funding to provide Ukraine with ammunition under the Czech plan.

Canada's CBC reported this week, citing sources, that Canada could contribute as much as C$30 million ($22.29 million).

The Czech ministry said a memorandum signed by Canadian and Czech defence ministers last week included involvement in ammunition procurement.

Canada's Defence Minister Bill Blair said on Monday the agreement will "enable us to acquire those munitions and make them available more rapidly to Ukraine as we up our own production".

($1 = 1.3460 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka and Jason Hovet, additional reporting by Steve Sherer in Ottawa; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

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