Kyiv and Washington are holding a “historic” first meeting of top government officials and defense industries to explore producing weapons together.
As witnessed by Wednesday’s senate vote rejecting Ukraine aid, developing Ukraine’s domestic production of weapons may prove increasingly essential for it to defend itself against Russia’s unprovoked invasion as US lawmakers debate on spending priorities and delay aid.
“This is a new level of our unity,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said. “A new industrial base, new jobs for both our nations. Specifically, Ukraine will be able to produce air defense systems. We are preparing to create a new defense ecosystem together with the United States to produce weapons to further reinforce freedom and the protection of life together.”
The meeting of defense industries includes Ukrainian government officials – Minister of Defense Rustem Umerov, Head of the President`s Office Andriy Yermak, Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Ruslan Stefanchuk, Minister of Strategic Industries Oleksandr Kamyshin and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mykola Tochytskyi, and the head of the “Servant of the People” party Davyd Arakhamia – was scheduled Wednesday and Thursday in Washington.
The event followed agreements reached between Zelensky and US President Joseph Biden in September.
“Ukraine Defense Industrial Base Summit is an unprecedented format of Ukrainian-US cooperation in the military and strategic industries,” Ukraine’s ambassador to the US, Oksana Markarova, said.
Markarova said that while visiting the US, Ukraine’s representatives are meeting representatives of the defense industry, the White House, members of Congress, The Pentagon, the Department of State, the Department of Commerce, as well as visiting think tanks and the media.
Erlier, in mid-November, the president of Ukraine revealed some details of the future conference in Washington, which is intended to be an extension of the September Defense Industries Forum that took place in Kyiv.
“Now, it's a forum in Washington and corresponding work on armaments in both Ukraine and the United States. I thank the United States – President Biden, his team, and Congress – both parties that support us. I also want to especially acknowledge U.S. defense companies and partners in Europe – all those who genuinely fill the concept of defending freedom with substance” Zelensky said.
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