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Letter: European leaders call for collective effort to arm Ukraine

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As winter grips Ukraine, its brave soldiers are enduring relentless Russian attacks with no indication that the war will stop anytime soon (“How Ukraine plans to survive 2024”, The Big Read, January 19).

Ukraine’s will to fight persists and serves as an inspiration to all of us who cherish freedom and justice. But crucial problems loom: Ukraine has insufficient amounts of artillery ammunition. And commitments for military support risk falling short of Ukraine’s needs.

At the beginning of last year, the EU committed itself to an ambitious goal of supplying Ukraine with 1mn artillery rounds before the end of March 2024. The hard truth: we have fallen short of this goal.

But we can’t just give up on our promise. If Ukrainian soldiers are to keep up the fight, the need for ammunition is overwhelming. And the EU member states’ delivery of arms and ammunition to Ukraine is more important than ever.

The EU and its member states have been strong supporters of Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion. And with tangible success: Russia has not been able to achieve any of its goals in the war it started. But our efforts must not wither.

We must renew our resolve and redouble our efforts in order to ensure that we sustain our support for as long as it takes. What is urgent today is to provide the ammunition and weapon systems, including howitzers, tanks, UAVs and air defence, that Ukraine so urgently needs on the ground. Now. Because new orders we place today will only reach the battlefield by next year. We must therefore insist on finding ways to accelerate the delivery of the promised artillery rounds to Ukraine. It can be through donation of existing stocks or joint procurement of ammunition through our defence industries. This requires expanding industrial capacities in Europe through framework procurement contracts and sustainable investments by member states. Partner countries could play an important role as well and are invited to join in our collective effort.

The ways are less important. The ends and means are critical. The signatories to this letter have already co-operated on donations to Ukraine, including the delivery of main battle tanks, howitzers, artillery ammunition and reconnaissance drones for Ukraine. We will continue to explore all options and invite allies and partners to co-fund initiatives.

Our ability to continue to support and sustain Ukraine’s defence, both during the winter and in the longer term, is decisive. In fact, it is a matter of our common European security, and for the brave women and men of the Ukrainian armed forces a question of life and death.

The EU and its member states must renew their efforts and step up their military support. The burden is so great that all states need to do everything they can to support Ukraine — it must continue to be a collective effort.

We call on friends and partners of Ukraine to recommit to sustainable long-term military support for Ukraine as a joint European responsibility. This decision must be taken by each and every country. Only then will Ukraine be able to succeed in its defence against Russian aggression.

Russia doesn’t wait for anybody and we need to act now. If Ukraine loses, the long-term consequences and costs will be much higher for all of us. We Europeans have a special responsibility. Therefore, we must act. Europe’s future depends on it.

Olaf Scholz
Chancellor of Germany

Mette Frederiksen
Prime Minister of Denmark

Petr Fiala
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic

Kaja Kallas
Prime Minister of Estonia

Mark Rutte
Prime Minister of the Netherlands

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