Czechs Warn Funding Is Lagging on Ammunition Plan for Ukraine

(Bloomberg) -- A senior Czech official urged allies to step up financing for an initiative aimed at delivering ammunition to Ukraine, saying only a quarter of those who made commitments had come through on financing.

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More than three months after Czech President Petr Pavel publicized the effort to procure some 800,000 shells from sources outside the European Union, Tomas Kopecny, the Czech envoy overseeing the initiative, said only five countries have finalized payments so far.

“It’s taking longer than we expected,” Kopecny told reporters in Prague, where NATO foreign ministers are gathering to discuss aid in preparation for the alliance’s summit in July in Washington. “The main reason is the speed of the processes in different countries — and the political will.”

The official warned that the pace needs to pick up, because the procurement process to arm Ukraine is competing with Russian efforts to tap a global supply of ammunition that Kopecny estimated at a “single-digit million” level. The 800,000 figure is a benchmark set by Pavel, but if resources are focused, Ukraine’s allies could source as many as 2 million shells, he said.

Only one of the EU’s big countries, Germany, has come through with funding of almost €600 million ($650 million), Kopecny said. Ten other countries are going through domestic procedures to approve payments, whether through parliamentary passage or budget processes, he said.

Ukraine’s military has been hamstrung by a shortage of ammunition and manpower this year, a situation compounded by a six month delay in US assistance. Now Ukrainian officials are aiming to stabilize their precarious position on the front line as Russian forces make incremental gains.

Kopecny said Kyiv has been receiving stocks of ammunition for months — and that the influx will “multiply” as of next month. He cited “trustworthy commitments” for some 500,000 shells, worth about €1.7 billion euros.

“If you have enough money to do the pre-payment faster than the Russian side, it goes to the Ukrainian side,” Kopecny said. “If it’s slower, sometimes it goes to the Russian side.”

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