Ukraine looks to allies to keep struggling defense industry alive

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Russia has targeted Ukraine’s defense industry, from tank factories to logistics facilities, with more than 100 missile strikes since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February. Ukraine’s GDP is expected to fall by more than a third. And all this time, Ukraine had to learn how to maintain and maintain the new NATO-grade weapons entering its arsenal from Western countries.

But nearly seven months after the invasion aimed at overthrowing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government, the country’s defense industry, one of the most robust in the former Soviet Union, has continued to function, according to reports. Ukrainian experts and officials. This is partly due to the relocation of defense production facilities to secure sites, the commissioning of new defense production agreements with European allies such as Poland and the government-mandated creation of new jobs in the production of defense.

Yuriy Gusev, the head of Ukrainian state arms manufacturer Ukroboronprom, said Foreign Police in an interview that Ukraine works with some companies from abroad to offshore production. But as Kyiv increasingly receives NATO-level weapons — more than $15 billion from the United States alone since February (nearly three times last year’s defense budget) — Ukraine seeks to build facilities to service these weapons and increasingly become part of the Western Military Supply Chain.

Russia has targeted Ukraine’s defense industry, from tank factories to logistics facilities, with more than 100 missile strikes since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February. Ukraine’s GDP is expected to fall by more than a third. And all this time, Ukraine had to learn how to maintain and maintain the new NATO-grade weapons entering its arsenal from Western countries.

But nearly seven months after the invasion aimed at overthrowing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government, the country’s defense industry, one of the most robust in the former Soviet Union, has continued to function, according to reports. Ukrainian experts and officials. This is partly due to the relocation of defense production facilities to secure sites, the commissioning of new defense production agreements with European allies such as Poland and the government-mandated creation of new jobs in the production of defense.

Yuriy Gusev, the head of Ukrainian state arms manufacturer Ukroboronprom, said Foreign Police in an interview that Ukraine works with some companies from abroad to offshore production. But as Kyiv increasingly receives NATO-level weapons — more than $15 billion from the United States alone since February (nearly three times last year’s defense budget) — Ukraine seeks to build facilities to service these weapons and increasingly become part of the Western Military Supply Chain.

“Since February 24, we have been working 24/7,” Gusev said. “We replaced some of our companies due to security issues and missile attacks. We work with partners to create maintenance and repair facilities for Western weapons and equipment here in Ukraine. The potential for more maintenance facilities could help spur Western countries to send weapons and equipment to Ukraine more quickly, as NATO members fear sending things the war-torn country is not easily able to maintain.

“We hope that we will be part of the production chain,” Gusev added, also calling for joint research and development centers with Western companies.

Even with Ukraine under attack, shutting down some facilities, the country has smartly adapted, using small-scale workshops and outsourcing production to avoid Russian strikes. Gusev also said companies have tried to hire more and raise wages to keep defense workers in their jobs; even during World War II, the United States struggled with worker absenteeism and strikes at many major defense companies.

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” said Jeb Nadaner, former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy. “They have very active networks in Europe and even beyond to take their workshops forward.”

During World War II, the United States converted more than 40% of its GDP to fight Germany and Japan, and it supplied arms to Great Britain, the Soviet Union and others through the Lend-Lease program. Even if Ukrainians are attacked at home and a similar percentage of their economic output has been destroyed by Russian attacks, the mix of old Soviet-era factories allows for quick repairs and modifications. “They have remnants of an older industrial base,” Nadaner added. “Think of New York, New Jersey, 1965. You have foundries. You have people who can make things.

And as retreating Russian troops have increasingly abandoned more sophisticated weapons, including tanks, armored vehicles and assault rifles, Ukraine has put in place procedures to modify these weapons and use them against their manufacturers. A Ukrainian military official said Foreign Police last week that Ukraine had captured more than 200 vehicles during its sweep in the Kharkiv region near the Russian border.

“We have special research institutes, which find out all this Russian equipment and weapons, and we have our own design bureaus, which research this military equipment and weapons from Russia,” Gusev said. But he stressed that the long game for Ukraine is to receive foreign technology transfers, such as from the United States, and to create joint ventures with global defense companies to produce more effective weapons.

The country’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, is also considering a new bill that would make the defense industry a priority industry in a bid to attract more investment.

But even with outsourcing and the potential for foreign aid, there are serious threats to maintaining production. The damage to Ukraine’s defense industry is only a fraction of the war-torn country’s next rebuilding bill. Volodymyr Omelyan, Ukraine’s former infrastructure minister, said the tally of Russian damage to the country was more than $1 trillion, but warned that figure was a rough estimate as fighting continues to rage. havoc on Ukrainian infrastructure.

“We are still capable of producing many types of weapons, but under the constant threat of bombardment you cannot create a real production line,” Omelyan said. He added that the Ukrainian government should try to conclude offshore agreements with neighboring NATO countries, such as Poland and Slovakia, and with the help of Western countries, produce artillery ammunition and missiles – with the guarantee that these facilities would return to Ukraine after the war.

A Ukrainian military official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing production efforts, said the government has also begun to focus on defense production facilities in western Ukraine. , more distant, but not completely out of the way, of possible Russian missile strikes. (Much of the Soviet Union at the time moved its industrial base east through the Ural Mountains to keep it out of reach of Nazi invaders.) This month, Zelensky said that the Turkish company responsible for manufacturing the low-cost Bayraktar TB-2 drones that were used extensively against Russian armor at the start of the war will set up a factory in Ukraine to build unmanned aerial vehicles.

Combined with low-level shop floor production, experts believe Ukraine’s defense industry can hold its own. “A lot of workshops, a lot of motivation,” Nadaner said. “It’s not a substitute for what wegiving them, nothing replaces our significant increase in our defense budget, … but what they have retained is to operate at a much higher production [level] than it was before the war.


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