On the battlefield defending Ukraine, some Ukrainian soldiers have been spotted wearing a mismatch of Western uniforms, according to media dispatches. From French body armour to U.S. fatigues and British desert camouflage, Ukrainians can use whatever donations will keep them warm and dry - whatever fits an individual better. But when it comes to the mix of Western arms and ammunition flowing into Ukraine, it is not so easy.
Among EU Member states, if one nation’s rifles fire NATO's standard 5.56 mm ammunition, other assault rifles used by another nation may not. Artillery systems have different barrel lengths that determine the size of ammunition they fire, depending
on their ranges, and many have different loading mechanisms, or even have their own shells. As Ukraine’s armed forces transition away from Soviet legacy weapons in search of better precision and range, issues can also arise around
spare parts. All these factors are a challenge for battlefield commanders and the command-and-control
systems they depend on.
NATO has ways to promote common military standards, covered by a STANdardisation AGreement of NATO Allied countries, known as STANAGs. Implementation of standards is voluntary, however, and in Europe’s fragmented defence market, many countries
still produce and operate incompatible weapons, a well-known problem that the war in Ukraine is now highlighting. As EU nations step up their weapons deliveries and seek to replenish supplies, the European Defence Agency’s (EDA) work
on standardisation will continue to be key.