BRUSSELS, Belgium: While chairing a meeting of EU foreign and defense ministers in Brussels this week, European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc's member countries have approved a fast-track process for providing Ukraine with artillery shells to repel Russia's ongoing invasion.
On Twitter, Borrell lauded the "historic decision" for the 27 EU member states and Norway to send Ukraine 1 million 115-millimeter artillery shells within 12 months.
Eighteen countries signed up to participate in a European Defense Agency (EDA) project to place joint orders for ammunition with the defense industry, he added, stating, "We are taking a key step towards delivering on our promises to provide Ukraine with more artillery ammunition."
His proposal a $1.1 billion fund to encourage member countries to provide artillery shells from their stocks and any orders for new rounds that they might have placed with industry had been approved, Borrell said.
A further $1 billion would also be used to fast-track new orders and encourage countries to work through the EDA or in groups of at least three nations.
The third track of the program involves long-term support for Europe's defense industry.
According to EU officials, if the plan is fully endorsed, new joint orders could be placed by May.
Meanwhile, on Twitter, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he is grateful to Borrell and the bloc "for this game-changing decision. Exactly what is needed: urgent delivery + sustainable joint procurement."
Also this week, the US State Department said that in weapons and equipment, including various types of ammunition such as rockets, an undisclosed number of fuel tanker trucks and river boats, worth $350 million, will be sent by the US to Ukraine.