Paris favors the wellbeing of its own industries over supporting Kiev, a European diplomat told the paper
France is slowing down EU plans to help Ukraine replenish its dwindling stocks of shells amid its conflict with Russia, European sources have told The Telegraph.
Paris is looking to secure guarantees that a 2 billion deal for member states to jointly procure ammunition for Kiev would only involve shells produced inside the bloc, the paper reported on Wednesday.
It added that French representatives had made the demand during discussions on an EU plan to supply the Ukrainian military with one million 155mm artillery shells.
Under the proposal, EU nations would be given cash incentives by Brussels so they could coordinate among themselves and place large joint orders that would motivate manufacturers to ramp up production.
"Many member states" have disagreed with France, insisting that dealing with manufacturers outside the bloc, which might already have the required production capacity, would be more efficient, an EU diplomat told The Telegraph.
"If we want to act immediately, which is necessary, allowing non-EU companies into the scheme is very important," he explained.
The diplomat shared the opinion with the paper that "Paris clearly favors the EU spending on its own industries over supporting Ukraine."
EU nations have so far provided Kiev with some 350,000 155mm artillery shells. Brussels has reimbursed 450 million ($477 million) to its members, at an estimated cost of 1,285 ($1,362) per shell, according to The Telegraph.
The paper said, citing Western intelligence, that Ukraine was firing around 6,000 artillery rounds per day. Meanwhile, Russia has been using 20,000 shells on a daily basis, which is roughly the same amount that's produced by EU defense firms in a month, it added. There have been other reports during the conflict suggesting that the number of rounds being fired by the Russian forces was several times higher.
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Moscow has long decried deliveries of weapons and ammunition to Ukraine by the US and the EU, arguing that these only serve to escalate and prolong the fighting, while also failing to change its ultimate outcome. According to Russia, arms deliveries, intelligence sharing and training provided to Kiev's troops and other forms of assistance have already made Western nations de facto parties to the conflict.