France accused of slowing EU plans to restock Ukraine’s artillery

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France has been blamed for impeding the European Union’s plans to replenish Ukraine’s shrinking artillery shell supplies by insisting that the munitions be produced inside the bloc. Paris is reported to have required assurances that only EU-based companies would benefit from the €2 billion deal.

These demands were made during negotiations over a new Brussels-led initiative to procure one million 155mm artillery shells to bolster Kyiv’s supplies and replenish depleted national stockpiles, the Telegraph has reported.

Bulk orders would be more likely to persuade weapons makers to increase production because member states would receive financial incentives to centralize and coordinate procurement.

French officials contended that only EU-based defence companies be allowed to bid for the highly-profitable contracts.

However, critics of this French request cautioned arms supplies to Ukraine could be squeezed as sources outside the EU with more shipment-ready stocks would be closed off.

An EU diplomat told The Telegraph: “Many member states presented different opinions to that of France,

“If we want to act immediately, which is necessary, allowing non-EU companies into the scheme is very important.”

They added: “Paris clearly favours the EU spending on its own industries over supporting Ukraine.”

Up to this point, EU nations have given Ukraine just 350,000 155mm artillery shells, which the country claims it urgently requires to bolster its defensive lines and initiate its projected spring counteroffensive.

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The EU has thus far compensated its member states €450 million for the contributions, with each shell estimated to cost €1,285.

Western intelligence suggests that Kyiv’s forces are discharging about 6,000 artillery rounds each day, while Russia is discharging 20,000 shells each day—equivalent to the monthly output of European defence manufacturers.

It comes as Russia and the United States ratcheted up their confrontational rhetoric Wednesday over a U.S. surveillance drone that encountered Russian warplanes and crashed near Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, which the Kremlin has illegally annexed.

At the same time, both countries pledged to try to avoid escalation.

The Kremlin said the incident proved again that Washington is directly involved in the fighting and added that Moscow would try to recover the drone’s wreckage from the Black Sea.

US officials said the incident showed Russia’s aggressive and risky behaviour and pledged to continue their surveillance.

Russia has long voiced concern about U.S. surveillance flights near its borders, but Tuesday’s incident signalled Moscow’s increasing readiness to raise the ante as tensions soar between the two nuclear powers.

It reflected the Kremlin’s appetite for brinkmanship that could further destabilize the situation and lead to more direct confrontations.

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