Ukraine tempts Western arms producers with plan for ‘large military hub’ | Weapons News

Incentives available to partner with Ukrainian manufacturers as Kyiv looks to create ‘world class military products’.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has announced plans to expand the country’s domestic defence industry through partnerships with Western weapons manufacturers, in a bid to increase supplies for its counteroffensive against Russia.

Speaking at the opening of the International Defence Industries Forum, Zelenskyy said he wanted to make Ukraine’s defence sector into a “large military hub” where military equipment and weapons could be built and repaired.

“Ukraine is in such a phase of the defence marathon when it is very important, critical to go forward without retreating. Results from the front line are needed daily,” the president told executives representing more than 250 Western weapons producers.

“We are interested in localising production of equipment needed for our defence and each of those advanced defence systems which are used by our soldiers, giving Ukraine the best results at the front today.”

Zelenskyy said that air defence and de-mining were his immediate priorities. Ukraine also aims to boost domestic production of missiles, drones and artillery ammunition.

The foreign ministry said Ukrainian producers had signed about 20 agreements with foreign partners for joint production, exchange of technology or supply of components to make drones, armoured vehicles and ammunition. It did not identify the companies.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who spoke by video link during the forum after visiting Kyiv earlier in the week, threw his weight behind the initiative.

“Heroism alone cannot intercept missiles. Ukraine needs capabilities, high quality, high quantity, and quickly,” Stoltenberg said. “There is no defence without industry.”

Ukraine retook the southern city of Kherson in November last year, and began a long-awaited counteroffensive in early June to try and recapture other territories seized by Russia, which launched its full-scale invasion of the country in February 2022.

Employees working on Puma fighting vehicles on a Rheinmetall production line
Germany’s Rheinmetall has already announced plans to tie up with Ukrainian defence companies [File: Fabian Bimmer/Reuters]

Kyiv has reported advances in several directions and liberated more than a dozen villages since but Moscow still controls about 18 percent of Ukrainian territory.

Ukraine’s allies have provided financial and military support worth tens of billions of dollars to help it push back Moscow’s forces.

Ukrainian officials see the development of the country’s domestic defence industry as a potential boost to the economy, which shrunk by about a third last year as a result of the war.

Several leading Western arms makers including Germany’s Rheinmetall and the United Kingdom’s BAE Systems have already announced plans to team up with Ukrainian producers.

Ukraine will create new incentives to draw Western defence investment and establish a special fund, through dividends from state defence resources and profits from the sale of confiscated Russian assets, to support new technology development, officials said.

“It will be a mutually beneficial partnership. I think it is a good time and place to create a large military hub,” Zelenskyy said during a separate meeting with weapons producers from the United States, the UK, Czechia, Germany, France, Sweden and Turkey.

Recently appointed Defence Minister Rustem Umerov said Kyiv had to do everything possible to produce all the necessary military services and products in Ukraine for the needs of its army.

“Our vision is to develop world-class military products,” Umerov said.

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