Incentives are available to partner with Ukrainian manufacturers as Kyiv seeks to create “world-class military products.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has announced plans to develop the country’s national defense industry through partnerships with Western arms manufacturers, aiming to increase supplies for his counter-offensive against Russia.
Speaking at the opening of the International Defense Industries Forum, Zelensky said he wanted to turn Ukraine’s defense sector into a “big military center” where military equipment and weapons could be built and repaired.
“Ukraine is in a phase of the defense marathon where it is very important, crucial to move forward without retreating. Results on the front lines are needed every day,” the president told leaders representing more than 250 Western arms producers.
“We want to localize the production of the equipment necessary for our defense and each of the advanced defense systems used by our soldiers, in order to give Ukraine the best results on the front today.”
Zelensky said air defense and mine clearance were his immediate priorities. Ukraine also aims to increase its domestic production of missiles, drones and artillery munitions.
The Foreign Ministry said Ukrainian producers signed around 20 agreements with foreign partners for joint production, technology exchange or supply of components to make drones, armored vehicles and munitions. He did not identify the companies.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who spoke via video link at the forum after visiting Kiev earlier in the week, lent his support to the initiative.
“Heroism alone cannot intercept missiles. Ukraine needs capacity, high quality, large quantity and quickly,” Stoltenberg said. “There is no defense without industry.”
Ukraine recaptured the southern city of Kherson in November last year and launched a long-awaited counter-offensive in early June to try to regain other territories seized by Russia, which launched its full-scale invasion of country in February 2022.
kyiv has made advances in several directions and has since liberated more than a dozen villages, but Moscow still controls about 18% of Ukraine’s territory.
Ukraine’s allies have provided tens of billions of dollars in financial and military support to help it push back Moscow’s forces.
Ukrainian officials see the development of the country’s defense industry as a potential revival for the economy, which shrank by about a third last year because of the war.
Several major Western arms manufacturers, including Germany’s Rheinmetall and Britain’s BAE Systems, have already announced their intention to partner with Ukrainian producers.
Ukraine will create new incentives to attract Western defense investments and create a special fund, using dividends from state defense resources and profits from the sale of confiscated Russian assets, to support the development of new technologies, officials said.
“It will be a mutually beneficial partnership. I think this is the right time and place to create a large military center,” Zelensky said at a separate meeting with arms producers from the United States, Great Britain, Czechia, from Germany, France, Sweden and Turkey.
Newly appointed Defense Minister Rustem Umerov said kyiv must do everything possible to produce in Ukraine all military services and products necessary for the needs of its army.
“Our vision is to develop world-class military products,” Umerov said.