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Ukraine war

NATO signs 1.1 bln euro contract for 155mm artillery ammunition

NATO signs 1.1 bln euro contract for 155mm artillery ammunition
Ukrainian soldiers of Ukrainian National Guard hold their positions in the snow-covered Serebryan Forest in temperatures of -15°C on January 12, 2024 in Kreminna, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine. (Photo by Kostiantyn Liberov/Libkos/Getty Images)

BRUSSELS, Jan 23 (Reuters) - NATO signed a 1.1 billion euro ($1.2 billion) contract for hundreds of thousands of 155mm artillery rounds on Tuesday, some of which will be supplied to Ukraine after Kyiv complained of ammunition shortages.

“The war in Ukraine has become a battle of ammunition,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters after a signing ceremony at the Western military alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.

Ukrainian Defence Minister Rustem Umerov said last week a shortage of ammunition, which he described as “shell hunger”, was a big problem for Kyiv’s troops nearly two years after Russia’s full-scale invasion.

The NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) struck the deal on behalf of several allies who will either pass on the shells to Ukraine or use them to stock up their own depleted inventories.

NATO official identified the buyers as Belgium, Lithuania and Spain, which pooled together to benefit from the lower prices ensured by buying in bulk.

The contract is likely to yield about 220,000 rounds of artillery ammunition, with the first deliveries expected at the end of 2025, the official told Reuters.

The shells will be supplied by French arms maker Nexter and Germany’s Junghans, according to an industry source.

Since NATO began a programme to address shortfalls in allies’ military stocks last July, the NSPA has agreed deals worth some $10 billion (9.19 billion euros), Stoltenberg said. This included artillery and tank shells, and Patriot air defence missiles.

At a meeting in February, NATO defence ministers are set to discuss other ways to step up industrial production which the NATO chief described as absolutely necessary to enable continued Western support for Kyiv.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold and Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Alex Richardson and Timothy Heritage)

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