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NATO inks $ 1.2 bn deal for 220,000 shells to resupply allies, Ukraine, but delivery could take years

NATO agreed $1.2 billion 155mm ammo buy to backfill depleted ally stockpiles and assist outgunned Ukraine, however the 220,000 shells, subject to delivery lags, may not bolster Kyiv’s defense until 2027.
Sweden to boost 155mm artillery ammo production for Ukraine
155mm artillery ammunition. Photo:
NATO inks $ 1.2 bn deal for 220,000 shells to resupply allies, Ukraine, but delivery could take years

On 23 January, NATO signed a €1.1 billion ($1.2 billion) contract to purchase 220,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition, the Alliance’s most in-demand artillery shell, enabling allies to resupply their arsenals and continue providing vital artillery stocks to Ukraine to help defeat Russia’s invasion, AP and Newsweek report.

With the major US aid package funding stalled by Congress Republicans for months and the EU’s aid vetoed by Russia’s ally, Hungary, the Ukrainian troops are experiencing shell shortages on the front.

This is important to defend our own territory, to build up our own stocks, but also to continue to support Ukraine,” said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, adding, “We cannot allow [Russian] President Putin to win in Ukraine. That would be a tragedy for the Ukrainians and dangerous for all of us.”

A NATO official told Reuters that Belgium, Lithuania, and Spain collaborated as purchasers, taking advantage of reduced prices through bulk buying. The shells will be provided by French arms manufacturer Nexter and Germany’s Junghans, as per information from an industry insider cited by Reuters.

Ukraine won’t get the shells quickly

The NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) has agreed on behalf of Alliance members to supply the shells to Ukraine or retain them in their own stockpiles, Newsweek says. Stoltenberg, speaking at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, emphasized that the war initiated by Russia “has become a battle of ammunition,” but it may take some time before Ukrainian forces can employ the newly acquired rounds.

AP says the shells will not arrive quickly as delivery on orders takes 24 to 36 months, according to the NATO agency.

A NATO representative informed Reuters that the first batch of deliveries might be completed by the end of 2025. However, the timeline provided on 23 January indicates that certain ammunition may not reach Ukraine until 2027, Newsweek noted.

Shell consumption and shortages

Last summer, Ukraine fired approximately 4,000 to 7,000 artillery shells daily, while Russia launched over 20,000 shells daily in Ukraine, as per EU estimates. One of the Ukrainian commanders, Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, said in December that Ukraine went from firing 8,000 shells daily during its summer counteroffensive to just 2,000 in previous weeks.

Ukraine’s limited firepower needs assistance to match Russia’s superior arms industry aided by shell imports from North Korea.

Last week, Ukrainian Defence Minister Rustem Umerov highlighted a critical issue facing Ukrainian forces nearly two years into Russia’s full-scale invasion: a significant shortage of ammunition, a situation he termed as “shell hunger,” according to Reuters.

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Failed EU plan to produce 1,000,000 shells for Ukraine

The European Union’s plan to manufacture 1 million artillery rounds for Ukraine has only reached about a third of the target. Senior EU officials anticipate the European defense industry will be capable of producing approximately 1 million shells annually by year-end.

Earlier, Gustav Gressel, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), told Newsweek that a significant worry for Kyiv in 2024 is that “we haven’t increased our ammunition production for even simple artillery and mortar bombs to the point we can grant Ukraine fire superiority.”

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Other ways to restock shells to be discussed

During their meeting scheduled for February, NATO defense ministers plan to discuss additional strategies to boost industrial production. This step, as described by the NATO chief, is absolutely essential for sustaining Western support for Kyiv, Reuters says.

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