The European Union intend to sign an agreement to purchase missiles for Ukraine

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Several European Union countries will sign an agreement on Monday to cooperate on the purchase of artillery shells for Ukraine as part of efforts to speed up and increase supplies of the shells Kiev says it desperately needs to fend off a Russian invasion.

A senior EU official said many of the bloc’s 27 countries are expected to sign the so-called project arrangement, which sets out the terms of reference for the plan, but it wasn’t clear how many because some were still studying the proposal.

Officials said that the joint agreement for the purchase of 155 mm artillery shells will be signed on the sidelines of a meeting of European Union foreign and defense ministers in Brussels on Monday.

The first applications under the scheme can be submitted by the end of May.

Ukraine said it’s in dire need of 155mm shells because it’s engaged in a fierce war of attrition with Russian forces, in which both sides fire thousands of artillery shells daily.

Ukrainian and Western leaders have warned in recent weeks that Kiev is consuming shells faster than its allies can produce, prompting renewed efforts to send supplies and look for ways to boost production.

The European Union’s defense agency will lead the project, which will be launched on Monday.

The initiative is part of a plan presented by European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to allocate 1 billion Euros ($1.07 billion) in compensation to EU countries for sending missiles from their stocks to Ukraine, and another 1 billion Euros for joint purchases.

Governments of the EU countries were still discussing key details on Friday due to disagreements over how the plan would work and lack of clarity about the current levels of munitions in EU member stockpiles, which remain classified.

Ambassadors of EU member states will meet on Sunday to try to finalize details of the comprehensive plan so foreign ministers can approve it on Monday.

EU officials have stated that it will take months, at least, before any missiles ordered, as part of joint procurement, reach Ukraine.

But they say knowing that there is a large joint procurement effort under way should encourage member states to send more of their existing stocks to Ukraine.

The money will come from the European Peace Facility, a fund run by the European Union that has financed 3.6 billion euros in military aid to Ukraine since the Russian invasion on February 24, 2022.

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