Ukraine ammunition drive raises enough to buy first 300,000 shells, Czech PM says

By Thomson Reuters Mar 8, 2024 | 4:57 AM

PRAGUE (Reuters) – The Czech-led initiative to buy ammunition for Ukraine as it battles Russia’s invasion has raised enough so far to purchase a first batch of 300,000 artillery shells, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said on X social media platform on Friday.

“Our goal is to deliver much more!” he said. “Our work and our help to Ukraine do not end here. We keep seeking partners so that we can continue to support Ukraine in its brave fight against the Russian aggressor.”

Czech President Petr Pavel had said on Thursday the initiative had collected the amount needed for acquiring 800,000 ammunition pieces that had earlier been found and were available from unspecified countries outside Europe.

A government adviser was quoted as saying in Czech media on Thursday evening, after Pavel had spoken of secured financing, that the full purchase was still not covered and there was no target amount in the initiative.

Pavel had last month said 500,000 rounds of 155-calibre ammunition and 300,000 rounds of 122-calibre ammunition were available and could be delivered with secured funding.

Several European Union members and countries outside the bloc have made pledges to the ammunition drive for Ukraine, as fighting against Russia’s full-scale invasion hits a third year.

It comes as the EU will miss a year-old target to deliver one million ammunition rounds to Ukraine this month and as U.S. military aid, which has been the backbone of international support for Kyiv, has stalled.

Norway said on Thursday it would donate up to 1.6 billion Norwegian crowns ($153 million) for the Czech plan. That followed pledges by Germany and France this week.

Pavel said on Thursday that 18 countries had joined the initiative.

(Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Mark Potter and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)