Ukraine hosts defence industry forum to build up weapons production

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed 250 companies, saying fund for an alliance will be created and paid for by dividends from state industries

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Kyiv will take steps and seek partnerships to energise arms production and research in Ukraine. AP
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Ukraine hosted an international defence industry conference as part of an effort to increase weapons production in an effort to repel Russian forces and reduce dependence on arms imports from Nato allies.

“Our priority is the development of defence production using modern technologies, including the production of shells, missiles, and drones in Ukraine, in co-operation with global leaders in this field,” said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on X, former Twitter.

The event marked a development in support of Ukraine, away from a focus on the delivery of weapons, repair of damaged equipment and training of Ukrainian soldiers.

Mr Zelenskyy, speaking at the opening of the International Defence Industries Forum, said that about 250 defence companies from more than 30 countries had gathered Friday in Kyiv. Defence ministers and representatives of several countries also attended the event.

“Heroism alone cannot intercept missiles. Ukraine needs capabilities, high quality, high quantity, and quickly. There is no defence without industry,” said Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who spoke by video link during the forum on the day after his visit to Kyiv.

Mr Stoltenberg acknowledged that many allies have significantly depleted their own ammunition stocks to support Ukraine.

“This was the right thing to do, but now we need to ramp up production, both to meet Ukraine’s needs and to ensure our own deterrence in events,” he said.

Mr Zelenskyy disclosed the details of his recent trip to Washington, where he agreed with US President Joe Biden on “the establishment of a new industrial ecosystem that will strengthen both Ukraine and all the partners.”

Andriy Yermak, Mr Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, said there will be meetings soon with representatives from the US “to determine the road map of co-operation with the partners about localisation of production, specifically in Ukraine.”

During the forum, Mr Zelenskyy announced the creation of the Defence Industries Alliance and said that 13 companies had signed a declaration.

To support the co-operation and develop an industry complex, Ukraine plans to establish a fund, which will be paid into through dividends from state defence resources and profits from the sale of confiscated Russian assets, Mr Zelenskyy said.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the first talks about joint production with allies began last autumn.

“At first, we were talking about repairs within Ukraine, and then about joint production. And now, this topic is prevalent everywhere,” said Mr Kuleba.

“Just as we have benefited from western weapons, western arms manufacturers also gain unique advantages in the market to improve their models and create even more powerful weapons,” Mr Kuleba said.

Ukraine's recently appointed Defence Minister, Rustem Umerov, said the country must do everything possible to produce all the necessary military services and products in Ukraine for the needs of its army.

The other priority is the development of defence technologies that now play an important role on the battlefield.

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

Updated: September 30, 2023, 10:28 AM