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Reznikov: 'Powerful players' to arrive on Ukraine's arms market

by Martin Fornusek August 28, 2023 9:23 PM 3 min read
Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov with foreign leaders at the NATO summit in Vilnius on July 12, 2023. (Photo credit: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)
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Ukraine has managed to significantly increase domestic weapons production and new "powerful players" will soon arrive on the country's arms market, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Aug. 28, as reported by Ukrinform.

"By the end of this month or at the beginning of September, there will be good news about powerful players arriving on Ukraine's arms market," Reznikov said at a press conference.

"In addition, we are preparing to hold a defense industry forum together with the Foreign Affairs Ministry," he added, saying that the event will likely be held in late September with the participation of around 50 arms companies.

According to the minister, Ukraine has made good progress in setting up a Bayraktar drone factory in the country. All the necessary documents have been signed and the next main issue under discussion is the plant's location, Reznikov revealed.

According to the minister, Ukraine proposed a suitable place already before the start of the full-scale invasion, and the Turkish manufacturer Baykar is willing to build there even though it is not located in the comparably safer western regions of Ukraine.

Kyiv and Ankara signed the deal on opening a Bayraktar factory in Ukraine last February, before Russia's full-scale invasion. Ukraine's parliament ratified the agreement on Dec. 13, 2022. Minister for Strategic Industries Oleksandr Kamyshin said back on July 10 that the construction of the plant had already begun.

According to Reznikov, Ukrainian companies are signing agreements with German partners on the maintenance of Leopard tanks. In July, the German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall announced its plans to build a factory in western Ukraine to produce and repair armored vehicles, such as the Fuchs armored personnel carriers.

Not all cooperation with foreign arms producers is harmonious. According to Ukrainska Pravda, the Polish company Alfa signed a deal with Ukraine's Defense Ministry to provide various types of armaments and ammunition, but it has not fulfilled its side of the deal and now owes Ukraine more than Hr 3.5 billion ($95 million).

Reznikov commented that many other firms, including some of the most influential ones, have also failed to fulfill their contracts. However, Alfa will either complete its deliveries or Kyiv will demand a refund, he added.

The Ukrainian defense industry is now able to produce its own 155 mm artillery shells, Reznikov said. While the 125 mm tank ammunition is currently being tested, there are difficulties with producing 122 mm artillery shells, he said.

At the moment, Ukraine has several missile and anti-missile programs but the most appropriate allocation of funds is still being discussed. Kyiv hopes that the new missile weaponry can enter into operation in 2024-2025, according to the minister.

Assuring sufficient arms production to defend the country against Russian aggression became one of the primary goals of Ukrainian policymakers since the start of the full-scale invasion.

A part of these efforts was the transformation of Ukraine's state weapons manufacturer Ukroboronprom into a joint-stock company called Ukrainian Defense Industry in June. The firm's new leadership was tasked with weeding out corruption and increasing the production of ammunition and military equipment.

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