MILAN — Several European nations have sourced hundreds of thousands of 122-millimeter artillery rounds from abroad to donate to Ukraine, a move that experts say will help bridge Kyiv’s ammunition shortage against invading Russian forces during a critical time of the war.

The latest military package bound for Ukraine, announced this month by the German government, included over 120,000 artillery projectiles of the Soviet-standard caliber. The Berlin government specified that the deliveries were coming from industry stocks financed with public funds.

Local newspaper Der Spiegel reported that rounds were ordered from Bulgaria, a key producer of this type of ammunition in Europe.

“Most of Ukraine’s artillery is still from the Soviet era – standards were 122mm, 130mm and 152mm, so getting more of this caliber ammunition for Kyiv is valuable,” Mark Cancian, senior adviser for the international security program at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said.

Ukrainian forces still rely on older equipment, including the D-30 or 2S1 Gvozdika howitzers, which can only fire non-NATO rounds.

At the Munich Conference, the President of the Czech Republic, Petr Pavel, said his government was also able to source nearly one million rounds from abroad, including 800,000 of the 155mm type and 300,000 of the 122mm type.

He added that the ammunition could be sent swiftly to the embattled country if funding was secured from other allies.

“Buying ammunition on the world market makes a lot of sense because of limits on what Europe and the U.S. can produce – Washington has done a lot of that already, having provided 200,000 152mm, 40,000 130mm, and 40,000 of 122mm type,” Cancian said.

A recent report by the CSIS think tank noted that shortages of Soviet-standard shells – 122mm and 152mmm – have gradually decreased the value of Soviet-era artillery.

While the United States has scouted the globe to buy this type of ammunition, Cancian says that some states may just be more inclined to sell it to nations other than the U.S.

“There are likely some countries who will sell to the Czech Republic but not the U.S. and who may also want to remain anonymous,” he said.

Nick Reynolds, research fellow for land warfare at the London-based RUSI think tank, said Ukraine should still strive to convert its artillery equipment to the NATO standard over time, as newer munitions are superior in explosive power, range and accuracy.

But, he added, “the scale of the war and the material requirements are enormous. Ukraine is firing 155mm shells and wearing out 155mm barrels far faster than either can be produced in Europe.”

Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. She covers a wide range of topics related to military procurement and international security, and specializes in reporting on the aviation sector. She is based in Milan, Italy.

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