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Plan to buy ammunition for Ukraine ‘fully funded’

A plan to buy 800,000 rounds of ammunition for Ukraine to fight Russia has secured enough funding, with contributions from 18 countries, Czech President Petr Pavel has said.

The most pressing need for Ukraine two years after Russia’s full-scale invasion began is artillery ammunition, which is running low as the sides use heavy cannon fire to hold largely static, entrenched positions along the 1,000km front line.

But the European Union has been unable to deliver one million ammunition rounds as it pledged to do a year ago, and US military aid, which has been the backbone of international support for Ukraine, has stalled.

The Czech Republic has taken a lead on efforts to source more ammunition from third countries.

Mr Pavel said last month that his country had located 500,000 rounds of 155-calibre ammunition and 300,000 rounds of 122-calibre ammunition that could be delivered if funding was secured.

He told reporters today that ammunition deliveries to Ukraine could start in weeks.

“As of this morning, we have collected the entire amount for buying all the ammunition, that is the 800,000 pieces,” he said.

The full funding came after Norway said it would donate up to 1.6 billion Norwegian crowns (€140 million) for the plan, following pledges by Germany and France earlier this week.

Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands are among other countries who had already backed the plan.

The Czech government has not said from what countries supplies are being sourced.

Ukraine losses ‘in vain’ if western nations stall on aid – Germany

Western countries need to give Ukraine the support they have promised, or its losses “would be in vain,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck has said.

Speaking in Washington, where he met US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Mr Habeck added that “the support for Ukraine cannot weaken, must not weaken”.

“This is a decisive moment,” added the minister, who is also due to meet US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.

Ukraine relies on tens of billions of euro in military support to provide its army with ammunition, artillery, tanks, rockets and other equipment.

The country has warned that it desperately needs more military and financial assistance, while a fresh $60bn (€55bn) package of US aid remains stalled in Congress.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen meeting German Economy Minister Robert Habeck in Washington

The European Union has approved a new €50bn aid programme for Ukraine.

But calls are mounting in the US and Europe to set up a fund for Ukraine using billions of euro in Russian bank accounts, investments and other assets frozen by the West.

In a statement ahead of her meeting with Mr Habeck, Ms Yellen urged Congress to approve the aid package.

“Congressional inaction is nothing short of a gift to Putin, Iran and other adversaries that stand against America and its allies,” she added.

Zelensky approves new envoy to UK

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has approved the candidacy of former army chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi as ambassador to the UK, according to a foreign ministry statement.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine sent a request to the British side for an agreement,” the statement said.

Mr Zaluzhnyi, widely seen as a national hero for overseeing Ukraine’s war effort after Russia’s invasion, was replaced by ground forces commander Oleksandr Syrskyi last month.

Ukraine has not had an ambassador in Britain since former envoy Vadym Prystaiko was dismissed in July 2023 after he publicly criticised President Zelensky.

British Defence Secretary Grant Shapps visited Kyiv today, according to Mr Zelensky.

In a social media post, he said: “Our primary focus was on bolstering Ukraine’s air defense and long-range capabilities, as well as meeting other urgent needs for weapons and ammunition and developing joint weapon production”.

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