EU's Top Diplomat Says Members Are Running Out of Weapons
The admission comes amid renewed concerns that Western support for Ukraine could dry up in the coming months as the Eurozone slides into a recession.
European Union (EU) countries are running out of weapons, Josep Borrell, the EU’s chief diplomat, said on Monday.
“The military stocks of most member states have been, I wouldn’t say exhausted, but depleted in a high proportion, because we have been providing a lot of capacity to the Ukrainians,” Borrell said during a session of the European Parliament. “It has to be refilled. The best way of refilling is doing that together. It will be cheaper,” he added.
EU countries have tapped their own inventories to provide military aid to Ukraine rather than relying on purpose-built tranches. The measure, intended to ensure faster delivery of key security assistance to the front lines in Ukraine, has compounded deficits in reserves of certain weapons systems. Borrell’s warning comes on the heels of similar statements by officials of EU member states. “I have to admit, as the Minister of Defense … we are reaching the limits of what we can give away from the Bundeswehr [stocks],” German defense minister Christine Lambrecht said last month.
The admission comes amid renewed concerns that Western support for Ukraine could dry up in the coming months as the Eurozone slides into a recession fueled by a mounting energy crisis.
Borrell added that the EU should have begun training Ukrainian troops, as requested by Kyiv and some member states, over a year ago. “Unhappily we didn’t, and today we regret it. We regret that last August we were not following this request, fulfilling this request,” he said.
The EU has provided some €2.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the Russian invasion commenced on February 24. Borrell said last week, following a meeting of European defense ministers in Prague, that the EU can best address Ukraine’s long-term defense needs through joint coordination and burden-sharing. “That cannot be solved overnight, but we have to put the basis [for] an army who has to fight and will have to fight for quite a long time,” Borrell said, according to Politico. Several member states, including the Netherlands and Portugal, have spoken in favor of EU-coordinated initiatives to support the Ukrainian war effort. Hungary, which has not supplied Ukraine with weapons, has expressed skepticism over such proposals, arguing that individual EU members should be allowed to formulate their own stance on assistance to Ukraine. “This should be kept as a national competence,” said Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó. “I think that this should not be done at a European Union level.”
Mark Episkopos is a national security reporter for the National Interest.