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EU urges cooperation as members refill military stocks amid arms supplies to Kyiv


European Union Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell attends the European Union leaders’ summit in Brussels, Belgium October 20, 2022. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

European Union countries should work together in replenishing their military inventories and avoid competing with each other amid ongoing arms deliveries to Ukraine, the bloc’s top diplomat said on Tuesday.

“All together makes better prices, better quality and better time,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters as he arrived for a meeting of the bloc’s defence ministers in Brussels.

Western countries have been supplying Ukraine with weapons and military equipment since Russia’s invasion in February, depleting their own inventories along the way.

The EU has long been urging member states to join forces on arms purchases, instead of driving up prices by competing against each other or striking deals individually with suppliers outside the bloc.

Meanwhile, Germany said it would establish a maintenance hub in Slovakia to service and repair weapons it has delivered to Kyiv.

“We have reached agreement, and work can start immediately so that all the equipment which has been supplied can be repaired after coming out of battle,” Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht told reporters in Brussels.

Lambrecht added Berlin was planning to train some 5,000 Ukrainian soldiers in Germany as part of an EU training mission by June.

EU foreign and defence ministers, at their respective meetings on Monday and Tuesday in Brussels, formally launched the bloc’s military assistance mission to Ukraine which aims to train some 15,000 Ukrainian troops in total.

The training, conducted on EU territory, will include ongoing efforts by several member states to prepare Ukrainian troops for the use of Western weapons sent to Kyiv.

On Tuesday, defence ministers will also discuss the need to replenish the so-called European Peace Facility, which EU states have tapped to fund purchases of arms and military equipment for Kyiv and which has been largely depleted over almost nine months of war in Ukraine.

Set up in 2021 with the original goal of funding military purchases in support of countries in Africa, for example, the EPF was filled with 5.7 billion euros for the period until 2027.

It is up to member states to agree on replenishing the pot and providing the money for it.