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Europe to step up ammunition production amid Ukraine warnings

A man installs a Ukrainian flag on a memorial for Ukrainian soldiers in Kramatorsk district. — AFP
A man installs a Ukrainian flag on a memorial for Ukrainian soldiers in Kramatorsk district. — AFP

KYIV: The European Union said it will drastically increase ammunition production this year in response to Ukraine's growing pleas for support in its war against Russia, which summoned the French ambassador to protest at the country's "growing involvement" in the conflict.

Ukraine meanwhile called on western nations to stop Russia sourcing key parts for its own weapons production for the war that will soon be two years old and has left tens of thousands dead.

The EU will be able to churn out at least 1.3 million rounds of ammunition by the end of this year, EU internal market commissioner Thierry Breton said on a visit to Estonia.

"We are at a crucial moment for our collective security in Europe, and in the war of aggression run by Russia in Ukraine, Europe must and will continue to support Ukraine with all its means," Breton told reporters.

Breton said that by March or April the 27 EU nations would reach a production capacity target for one million ammunition shells each year.

"We will continue to enhance our production capacity, probably around 1.3 to 1.4 million... at the end of this year and continue to increase significantly next year," he added.

Ukraine said that it faced a "pressing" need for ammunition and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Friday made a call for greater efforts to stop Russia sourcing weapons parts for its offensive.

"The West must get serious about strangling Russia's ability to produce weapons," Kuleba said in a social media post.

"According to some data, up to 95 percent of the foreign-produced critical components found in Russian weapons destroyed in Ukraine come from Western countries," he added.

Kuleba did not provide evidence for the claim, but Kyiv regularly disassembles Russian missiles and drones that fall on its territory to analyse their components.

On the battle front, Ukraine staged an attack that sparked a huge inferno at an oil depot in western Russia, a Ukrainian security services source said.

The strike was the second on a Russian oil depot in two days, after Kyiv claimed to have hit an oil storage facility in the northern Leningrad region.

Kyiv has targeted Russian oil and gas infrastructure throughout the almost two-year conflict, attacks they argue are fair retaliation for strikes on Ukrainian territory.

Russia stepped up diplomatic pressure, summoning France's ambassador in Moscow and to make a formal complaint over his country's "growing involvement" in the conflict. — AFP

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