The Czech-led initiative purchased one million ammunition for Ukraine as it battles Russia’s invasion

Czech President Petr Pavel told journalists on Thursday that, with Thursday’s contribution of €140 million from Norway, the Czech Republic has secured enough funds to buy 800,000 artillery shells for munitions-starved Ukraine.

Overall, 18 countries have agreed to finance the purchases within a Czech-led initiative. The ammunition should be in Ukraine in the coming weeks, Pavel added.   

The ammunition is desperately needed by Ukraine’s army which, outnumbered and outgunned, recently had to retreat from the strategically important city of Avdiivka in Donetsk region due to a lack of artillery shells. European officials estimate Russia is firing up to 10 times more ammo than Ukraine on the front lines.

During the Munich Security Conference in February, Pavel announced the Czechs had figured out a way to purchase 500,000 155 mm and 300,000 122 mm caliber artillery shells for Ukraine from producers outside the EU.  The shells can be delivered within weeks if the funding is there, Pavel said.

Since then, Canada, Denmark, Germany, France, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway and others contributed millions to the Czech-led campaign. Delivery now depends on how fast the Czech defense ministry can secure the procurement documents, Pavel said.

At a Wednesday press conference in Odesa, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the progress on the initiative, but said “we can talk about a positive result only when the shells will be in Ukraine.

“Our partners have long-range weapons, but there should not be a ‘deficit of courage’ here,” the Ukrainian leader said.

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