In his nightly address to the nation President Zelensky confirmed the arrival of the first US-provided Abrams main battle tanks which he categorized as “a significant reinforcement… to our actions against the occupiers.”
He then went on to refer to the efforts his government was making to acquire F-16 fighter aircraft, long-range weapons and air defense systems in the short term.
The main thrust of his speech was, however, the need in the longer term for Ukraine to be able to produce its own advanced weapons: “To guarantee Ukraine’s security... we will build all the necessary production facilities step by step.”
He stressed that this was not only in his country’s best interests but for all of Ukraine’s partners and the rest of the world to secure “a rules-based world that will not tolerate the aggression and terror that Russia is trying to make the norm.”
Zelensky spoke about preparations for the first Defense Industries Forum that Ukraine is organizing for which more than 160 companies from 26 countries have already signed up to participate as another step towards creating “a new and powerful arsenal for Ukraine and all defenders of international law.”
The theme of his speech reflects the continuation of the progress already made in securing partnerships with Western arms manufacturers to increase Ukraine’s greater self-reliance in these areas.
In his Sept. 22 report on his recent visit to Washington the president announced not only a new US military aid package but also the signing of a joint weapons production deal as the basis for cooperation agreements with over 2,000 US defense companies. This will enable US manufacturers to work with their Ukrainian counterparts for the co-production of weapons and ammunition in Ukraine.
This followed on from earlier announcements of similar framework agreements, such as that signed with the UK’s BAE Systems at the end of August to undertake the repair, provision of spare parts and production of new L119 light guns in Ukraine; the opening of a repair facility in Ukraine by the German tank manufacturer Rheinmetall along with plans to develop a tank building facility in due course; the plans to produce the CV-90 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) in a joint venture between Ukraine and Sweden.
This latest restatement of the long term aims of Ukraine to become less reliant on donations of “second-hand weapon systems” from its Allies and to ensure it can defend itself with modern advanced weapons. This will not only guarantee the nation’s security but also have economic and social benefits through the development of a modern defense manufacturing capability.
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