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Ukraine’s munitions might be coming from unlikely source — Russia’s new friend Pakistan

A Twitter account tracking military equipment claims that Howitzer projectiles from Pakistan – made explicitly for export to Ukraine – are reaching the war-torn country via Cyprus or Romania.

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New Delhi: Ukraine is reportedly getting munition supply from an unlikely source — Pakistan.

Yes, it seems to be the case if one goes by the videos of long range artillery shells, manufactured by Pakistan Ordnance Factory Board, being unpacked in Ukraine.

Adding another angle to the development is the information put out by defence journalist Elizabeth Gosselin-Malo, who has pointed out that an aircraft belonging to the UK’s Royal Air Force has been departing twice daily for over three weeks via Cyprus or Romania to pick military supplies from an air force base in Pakistan.

The consignment, she said, was being delivered to the Ukrainian army. The supplies were being loaded at Pakistan’s Nur Khan Air Force Base in Rawalpindi Punjab.

According to the Twitter handle, Ukraine Weapons Tracker – an account that tracks usage and capture of military equipment and materials in Ukraine – the daily trips by the RAF C-17 Globemaster were to secure supplies of 122mm Howitzer Projectiles, manufactured by the state-owned Pakistan’s Ordnance Factory for Ukraine’s military.

The 122 mm projectiles are semi-fixed ammunition for the Howitzer, which are long-range artillery weapons.

The account said that Pakistan was part of an air bridge for supplying weapons to Ukraine. The projectiles have been identified as Pakistani by their “distinct British-origin packaging widely used by Pakistan Ordnance Factory and then LIU-4 fuzes, unique to Pakistani 122mm,” added Ukraine Weapons Tracker.

Ukraine’s Weapon Tracker claimed that the projectiles could have been manufactured “explicitly for export to Ukraine”.

Pakistan-Russia military ties

The ammunition supplies to Ukraine come at a time when Pakistan-Russia relations were growing. Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan had landed in Moscow on the day Russia started its invasion of Ukraine in February. “What a time I have come, so much excitement,” Khan had said.

Russia and Pakistan, in 2015, had signed a deal for four Mi-35 M attack helicopters, which has already been delivered. The following year, Russia and Pakistan carried out their first joint military exercise.

Last year in October, the militaries of the two countries also held joint training exercises called ‘Druzhba-VI’, in the Krasnodar region in southern Russia.

The growing ties was a concern to the Indian establishment forcing the Russians in 2019 to clarify that it will not sell any weapons to Pakistan.

However, Pakistan and Ukraine’s military ties go back nearly three decades. According to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Ukraine has supplied weapons worth nearly $1.6 billion to Pakistan till 2020. In the 1990s, Ukraine supplied 320 T-84UD tanks to Pakistan for a deal worth $600 million.

Ammunitions include 15,300-m range projectile

The Pakistan Ordnance Factory Board’s catalogue for 2021 provides the details of the 122mm Howitzer Projectiles being sent to Ukraine.

The projectile has a muzzle velocity of 690 metres per second and a maximum range of 15,300 metres.

The projectile weighs over 21 kilograms, and its shell is made of complete forged steel. Its fuze is an LIU-4 type, essentially a high-voltage fuse. The complete weight of the round, including the projectile and shell, is over 28 kilograms.

Further, it has a detonation capability of 2500 kilograms per centimetre, which is essentially a ratio of the weight of the explosive with the explosion volume.

Also read: Army steps up outreach, plans to sponsor 600 students from J&K, Ladakh to study outside UTs


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