April 14. 2024. 7:39

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Slovakia to increase ammo production fivefold, says defence minister

Slovakia is implementing new measures which will expand artillery ammunition production ‘fivefold’ to aid Ukraine, announced Acting Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď.

Naď promised more help to Ukraine during a visit to Kyiv with Acting Prime Minister Eduard Heger on Friday. Slovakia is one of the few EU member states where artillery shells are produced.

Until Putin’s aggression, Slovakia, namely the semi-state company ZVS Holding, was producing approximately 25,000 rounds of ammunition per year. Last year, however, this company from Dubnica nad Váhom doubled this number to 50,000. The Defence Ministry plans to increase production at the start of 2024.

“The capacity increase will be in two phases, the first from 1 January 2024 and the second from 1 January 2025. This increase is linked to the delivery dates of the production equipment needed for the production of ammunition,” spokeswoman Martina Kovaľ Kakaščíková confirmed last week.

In practice, this means that this increase will have no impact on the Ukrainian spring counter-offensive, which is currently pending, or on the fighting that may take place in the coming months.

The increase of ZVS Holding’s production capacity is a part of the EU-wide initiative to produce more ammunition, which was agreed upon by the EU defence ministers at the Council meeting at the start of March. According to the Slovak ministry, the EU should also cover the financing.

“The European Defence Fund, the European Investment Bank, and the search for resources directly in the EU budget are being considered. The Slovak government is discussing with the Commission how to use this option for our industry,” the Defence Ministry claims.

The EU Commission has identified fifteen European companies with whom it wants to negotiate such support. The list includes the Slovak parastatal ZVS Holding, which employs around 300 people today.

Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton visited the company’s premises in Dubnica last week, where he was presented with details of local capacities. “I have been personally very impressed,” he said.

(Michal Hudec | EURACTIV.sk)