Financial Times: Explosives shortage jeopardizes EU's effort to boost shell production for Ukraine

EU member states that produce ammunition for Ukraine have faced a shortage of gunpowder, plastic explosives, and TNT, the Financial Times reported.

Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov appealed to the EU on March 3 to provide Ukraine with 250,000 artillery shells a month to ease a critical shortage that limits the country's progress on the battlefield.

Russia’s full-scale invasion left the European defense industry unable to meet expected EU orders for Ukraine rapidly. Explosives shortages and production capability may hinder Ukraine’s supply schedule for ammunition, including 155 mm artillery rounds, according to the Financial Times.

“The main problem is that the European defense industry is not able to carry out large-scale military production,” an unnamed German official told the newspaper.

One of Europe’s largest explosives producers, state-owned Czech manufacturer Explosia, told the Financial Times that its production line for gunpowder used in 155 mm rounds is “running at full capacity” and would not be increased until 2026.

Fábrica Municiones de Granada (FMG), a Slovak-owned Spanish manufacturer of 155 mm artillery pieces, said the cost of basic materials “doubled, and in some cases tripled”. However, the price of the final product was not affected as much, according to FMG CEO Antonio Caro.

Caro added that a conventional rocket costs $916 (EUR 850), or some 20% higher than before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

FMG has no plans to increase capacity.

On average, Ukraine was firing 110,000 155 mm shells a month, he says — a quarter of the amount used by Russia, according to the defense minister.