EU should consider Ukraine’s military needs in its defense strategy – von der Leyen

The European Union should consider Ukraine’s military needs when determining the future strategy of the EU defense industry, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, Reuters reports.

“Our strategy can only be complete if it also takes into account Ukraine’s needs and Ukraine’s industrial capacity,” von der Leyen said in her speech at the annual conference of the European Defense Agency.

Ukraine should be integrated into EU defense programs – von der Leyen

Von der Leyen said that Ukraine should be integrated into EU defense programs to help meet its needs in the war against Russian invasion.

“The first step to achieve this is to involve Ukraine in the consultation process on the Industrial Strategy. This should lead to the integration of Ukraine into some of our defense programs, with the consent of the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, where appropriate”.

Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President

According to von der Leyen, the European Commission intends to propose a European Defense Industry Program early next year, which will also consider ways to finance the industry.

As part of this program, the Commission will try to understand how it can ensure that the defense industry’s contribution to European security is recognized by sustainable financial investors, European Commission President stated.

EU’s Defense Capability Development Priorities

In mid-November, the 27 EU Ministers of Defence approved the 2023 EU Capability Development Priorities at the European Defence Agency Steering Board.

The priorities, based on lessons learned from Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, contribute to EU defense aims and are meant to “lead to the implementation of specific projects” against a backdrop of ongoing underfunding and limited European defense cooperation, as defined in the strategy.

The EDA underlines that a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine highlights the urgent need to strengthen military mobility in the EU and beyond, as well as to address the inadequacy of military intelligence capabilities, particularly the deployment of drones.

EU’s need to meet Russia’s threat and to aid Ukraine

Adopting this document underlines the European Union’s need to meet Russia’s and other possible adversaries’ threats. Russia’s war in Ukraine highlighted Europe’s need to boost defense capabilities.

It is also about maintaining the EU’s military aid for Ukraine, given the possibility of a drop in US assistance due to the Israel-Hamas conflict. 

The EU’s chief diplomat, Josep Borrell,  stated during a meeting with member states’ defense ministers and discussed the necessity to examine the situation with ammunition manufacturing to support Ukraine and methods to enhance supplies.

EU’s challenge of increasing ammunition production

In 2024, the EU defense industry must meet the challenge of increasing its ammunition production capacity to 1 million rounds per year, von der Leyen added.

This goal is unrelated to the EU’s plan to provide Ukraine with 1 million artillery shells and missiles within a year, a goal that German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius and other officials say is unlikely to be met.

As the EU has promised to send one million shells by March 2024 to Ukraine and already struggles to meet this commitment, there is another critical reason to replenish weapons and military equipment stocks.

Read also: European Commissioner estimated when EU will deliver 1 million shells to Ukraine

EU’s plan to provide €20 billion military aid to Ukraine

The EU’s initial plan to provide €20 billion military aid to Ukraine over four years to pay for weapons and ammunition is at risk of falling through as some member states, including Germany, have been unable to agree on the terms.

Instead, the EU member states hope to at least agree on €5 billion for next year, with commitments for further support after that.

Ukraine needs military and financial aid as it fights the Russian invasion and the war continues. Weapons supply help the Ukrainian Armed Forces repel Russian invading troops and push them out from the occupied territories.

Ukraine’s fight against Russia has taught the EU the need to modernize its military technology and manufacture advanced technologies, such as drones and electronic warfare, to ensure defense capabilities against possible adversaries.

The ongoing Russia’s war against Ukraine, aggressive rhetoric, and nuclear blackmail do not exclude the possibility of a potential Russian invasion of EU countries, which is why the EU needs to strengthen its defense capabilities.

Read more in our article: Will EU states approve €20 military aid plan for Ukraine?

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