The EU must strengthen its defence industrial base and look beyond Ukraine’s immediate military needs to more sustainable and long-term production, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday during a visit to Paris ahead of NATO’s 75th anniversary, as Western nations step up efforts to provide long-term financial and military support to Ukraine.

It is a “critical moment” for Ukraine, Blinken said on Tuesday, urging the EU and other Western allies to look beyond Ukraine’s immediate military needs towards a strengthened defence industrial base for more sustained and long-term production.

“It’s an investment in ourselves,” said Blinken, adding that “the challenges that we’re seeing in Ukraine are not going to go away tomorrow, and we need to make sure our defences are as strong as possible”.

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Blinken is on a two-day diplomatic tour that began in Paris and will take him to Brussels on Wednesday for the 75th anniversary of NATO. He met with French Defence Minister Sébastien Lecornu, Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné and President Emmanuel Macron.

“It is absolutely essential to get Ukrainians what they continue to need to defend themselves, particularly when it comes to munitions and air defences,” Blinken said in a statement to the press earlier in the day alongside Lecornu during a visit to a CEASAR long-range missile launcher and the Nexter ammunition production site on the outskirts of Paris.

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The United States has been the chief military backer of Ukraine in its war against Russia, but Congress had not approved large-scale funding for its ally for nearly a year and a half.

Lecornu also confirmed that the production of CEASAR would increase six-fold from two a month before the war to 12 in the future.

Kyiv raises the alarm

The trip comes as Kyiv has raised the alarm that it was running out of ammunition to hold off a Russian invasion, while only a fraction of all EU military and financial pledges had materialised on the battlefield, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said last month.

At a summit on Ukraine in Paris in late February, EU presidents, heads of state, and ministers from Canada, the US and the UK agreed to buy ammunition from outside the EU to meet  Ukraine’s most pressing needs.

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They also pledged, among other things, to increase cooperation on the supply of medium- and long-range missiles to Ukraine, cyber defence and the co-production of weapons on Ukrainian soil.

“[The] meeting comes at a critical time for Ukraine – and at a moment where France’s foreign policy shift becomes more clear and credible. It’s a window of opportunity for Macron to set the scene for Blinken’s other meetings in Europe,” Gesine Weber, a visiting research scholar at Columbia University, posted on X.

At the February Ukraine summit, Macron had confirmed that the deployment of Western troops on the ground in Ukraine should no longer be ruled out – a comment that drew significant backlash from EU member states but signalled an increasingly hawkish stance from Paris after Macron was accused of doing too little to support Ukraine’s war effort.

US support in jeopardy

According to the Kiel Institute, the US has been a critical partner for Ukraine, with commitments totalling €67.7 billion or 0.32% of the country’s GDP since the start of the war. However, a future $60 billion (€55.8 billion) aid package is in danger of being rejected outright by Republican members of Congress in Washington.

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The state secretary said this renewed funding “must be fulfilled as quickly as possible. It is needed now and urgently.”

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy made it clear that the country could not do without US support – and would have to withdraw “in small steps” if the bill failed to pass.

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