April 18. 2024. 1:13

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The Brief – How much can one really give Ukraine?

In a bold move, Danish Prime Minister Mette Fredriksen told the Munich Security Conference her country would donate its entire stock of artillery to Ukraine, emptying its stockpile as a consequence.

Such a commitment will for sure be of great help to the ammunition-deprived Ukrainian armed forces. They recently retreated from the city of Adviivka and must now ration their stocks to manage with the limited supplies coming from Europe as they wait for the Americans to unlock another military aid package.

No one can deny it’s a great morale booster to know that one of your allies is ready to do so much.

But what the Danish prime minister forgot to say is when the artillery will reach Ukraine and how much ammunition it has in stock to deliver (information likely to remain secret for national security reasons).

As NATO and EU officials say, there is an important gap between the pledges and the deliveries.

The uncertainty is so high that the EU’s External Action Service refuses to calculate member states’ contributions to the European peace facility based on their pledges alone.

Since open information is rare on this sensitive topic, it is impossible to know exactly what and how much has reached Kyiv.

Now, let’s imagine that the Danes are emptying their stockpiles and sending them to Ukraine as we speak.

That would leave Denmark somewhat defenceless, jeopardising its defence readiness – an odd thing to imagine for a NATO country with a war raging in its neighbourhood.

Copenhagen would be entirely dependent on other nations for its artillery needs if it were attacked before it managed to restock its warehouses.

This would put a massive burden on the allies’ shoulders, considering they have all been depleting their stockpiles for Kyiv for two years now, and production is struggling to keep up.

For any country in today’s world, emptying its warehouses would go against national security interests.

A war in Denmark is probably not imminent, but lead delivery times in Europe for artillery are six months and for ammunition at least one year, which, again, means Denmark would be largely defenceless and unable to repeal any attack.

Should any other NATO ally go along with the same strategy, it would strain the Western industry’s production capacity.

There is a reason why NATO sets targets for allied ammunition stockpiles, which were raised a year ago.

The alliance will not impose any sanctions on those who don’t follow the guidelines, but a shortage of defence tools can have serious consequences.

“We count on all allies to play their part to help ensure our Alliance remains prepared to meet any challenge, and we will continue to review Allies’ progress towards meeting their targets,” one NATO official told Euractiv.

One thing is certain: The more a government empties its reserves now, the more it will have to spend to replenish them. This will, in turn, increase its share of GDP spent on defence and get it closer to the virtuous 2% target seen by the US as the best security commitment for the Old Continent.

And it’s great news for the defence industry – as long as emptying is done according to a sound military plan.

The Roundup

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson will travel to Budapest on Friday to meet his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orbán before Hungary’s parliament takes a long-delayed vote on Sweden’s bid for NATO membership next Monday.

France’s conservative party Les Républicains (LR, EPP) will not support Ursula von der Leyen’s bid to get a second term as European Commission president, François Xavier-Bellamy, head of the LR list for the EU elections, told France Inter radio on Tuesday.

European Union legislators reached a political agreement in the early hours of Tuesday on a proposal to set up the world’s first registry for certified carbon dioxide removals obtained from eco-farming practices and industrial processes.

Before officially joining the French far-right party Rassemblement National (RN), former Frontex head Fabrice Leggeri had been in contact with the right-wing Les Républicains (LR) party “for several months”, a person close to the delegation in the EU Parliament has said.

Public procurement in schools and making companies pay for the ‘hidden costs’ of conventional products are needed to balance the discrepancy between the increase in organically farmed land with the decrease in organic food sales, the deputy director of EU organic farming organisation IFOAM told Euractiv.

The European Youth Forum’s campaign to lower the voting age to 16 was a key part of festivities in Ghent this weekend, celebrating its year-long reign as the European Youth Capital, which coincides with the year of the European elections.

For transport-related policy news, don’t miss this week’s Transport Brief: Sounds pretty technical.

Look out for…

  • Commissioner Nicolas Schmit gives keynote speech at official opening of Skills Summit 2024 on Wednesday.
  • Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi receives Moldovan Deputy PM Cristina Gherasimov on Wednesday.
  • Informal meeting of economic and financial affairs ministers on Thursday-Saturday.