NATO signs $1.2-billion artillery shell deal

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NATO yesterday signed contracts worth $1.2 billion to acquire over 200,000 155-millimeter artillery shells in the face of Russia’s invasion on Ukraine.

Members of the Western military alliance have drained their stocks sending shipments of heavy ammunition to help Ukraine’s forces battle Russia in a brutal war of attrition.

The latest deals, signed with French firm Nexter and Germany’s Junghans Microtec, are estimated by officials to cover around 220,000 shells and deliveries to NATO members will start at the end of 2025.

“It is important that our allies refill their own stocks as we continue to support Ukraine,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said.

The U.S.-led alliance last year launched a plan to bolster defense production and has since inked joint procurement contracts for ammunition worth some $10 billion.

Those include a deal to buy up to 1,000 European-produced Patriot air defense missiles that was signed last month.

The European Union has also launched its own efforts to increase defense production, but the 27-nation bloc is falling far short of a target of supplying Kiev 1 million artillery shells by March.

The push to refill stocks and ramp up output comes as doubts swirl over future support for Ukraine from key backer the United States.

Stoltenberg insisted that Kiev’s supporters “will support Ukraine with the systems and the weapons and ammunition they need to prevail as a sovereign, independent country.”

He said the alliance for now did not “see any direct or imminent threat against any NATO ally” from Russia and had stepped up its eastern defenses to dissuade Moscow from any aggression.

Meanwhile, overnight Russian missile attacks across Ukraine, including the capital Kiev and second city Kharkiv, killed three people and injured dozens, regional officials said.

Ukraine’s army chief Valery Zaluzhny said on social media that Russian forces had fired 41 missiles, including cruise and ballistic missiles, and that his forces had downed 21.

The worst hit city was Kharkiv, lying just next to the Russian border, where the mayor said two people had died and nearly 40 injured.

Russian forces had aimed to wrest control of the city early in their invasion launched on February 2022 but were pushed back and have been routinely shelling it since.

In Kiev, mayor Vitali Klitschko said 18 people had been injured and 13 hospitalized.

He said cars and several buildings, including residential blocks, had been set ablaze.

“An unexploded munition was found in one of the apartments in a residential building in Sviatoshynskyi district. People are being evacuated from the house.” he said.

Further south, in the city of Pavlograd, the Dnipropetrovsk governor said that one person had been killed and another injured in the overnight attack.

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