Czech Republic Prime Minister Petr Fiala addresses an audience at the Hudson Institute in Washington (Photo: Petr Fiala on X)

BELFAST — A campaign led by the Czech Republic and financed by international partners to source artillery shells on the open market for Ukraine could lead to delivery of 1.5 million rounds by April 2025, according to Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala.

The Czech government has already secured 500,000 shells, Fiala told the Hudson Institute on Tuesday, but, “There is no reason why we cannot deliver 1 million more in the next 12 months.”

The ammunition initiative involves the Czech Republic collaborating with a number of supplier nations from countries in Africa and Asia to secure the shells, purchased with funds from other friendly nations and eventually delivered to Kyiv.

The source nations, which Fiala did not identify, are wary of selling the shells directly to Ukraine, but will sell them to the Czech Republic. So far orders have been financed by 18 Western governments including Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, The Netherlands and Sweden, with first deliveries to Ukraine expected in June.

“The purpose of our initiative is to find ammunition on the world markets, to negotiate the financing and to potentially negotiate deliveries to Ukraine,” said Fiala. “We have the know-how, the contacts, we have experience and we can effectively organise this assistance.”

I spoke with the Speaker of the House of Representatives @MikeJohnson about Czech-American relations, the security situation in the world, support for Ukraine and Israel, and LNG supplies to Europe.


— Petr Fiala (@P_Fiala) April 16, 2024

He said that 500,000 shells “can now” be provided to Ukrainian forces. “Our goal is to create a long-term system of ammunition supplies for heavy weapons,” he added. “This will directly help to change the situation on the frontline.”

“I believe that our initiative can simply cover the ammunition gap, at least until Europe can produce enough ammunition” said Fiala. “We cannot resign on this responsibility.”

Ukraine has suffered an acute shortage of ammunition for months, reduced to a firing rate of 2,000 rounds per day, with some estimates suggesting Russian forces are firing at five times that rate.

Fiala noted that over the last two years, the Czech Republic alone has delivered 1.3 million artillery shells to Ukraine.

By contrast, the European Union (EU) missed its target of supplying Ukraine with 1 million artillery shells by March 2024, having committed to achieve such a feat in a year. On a more positive note for Ukraine, production capacity by member states is expected to reach 1.4 million rounds in 2024 and hit 2 million rounds in 2025, according to Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market.

More broadly, the Czech Republic has supplied Ukraine with 874 pieces of equipment, covering infantry fighting vehicles, helicopters, rocket launchers and “other weapons,” since the conflict with Russia started, according to Fiala.

He added that the Czech Armed Forces have already trained 4,300 Ukrainian soldiers and plan on training another 4,000.

“We need to stop Russian aggression and work on a stable, independent and democratic future for Ukraine,” said Fiala. “This is the only solution if we don’t want to face [a] strong Russia at the door of NATO.”