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Ukraine should set up its own arms industry

Ukraine is trying to set up its own munitions production to gradually reduce its dependence on its western allies, according to Financial Times.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmygal told the Financial Times:

We have a colossal shortage of ammunition, not only in Ukraine but all over the world. We realise that we have to produce them here in Ukraine because all over the world they have run out, the arsenals are exhausted. All the warehouses are empty.

Kyiv has realised that it needs to increase significantly the production of domestic drones. Last year they made about 10 of them a year, this year that number has passed “tens of thousands”. Ukraine has also started to finance the military-industrial complex more, including for air defence equipment and artillery.

However, increasing production of air defences, shells and artillery pieces is a much more difficult task than making drones, especially since key components, parts and raw materials are now in short supply around the world. One official said that it was impossible to increase rapidly weapons production, as was the case with drones, because there is a “gunpowder shortage” around the world.

Shmygal had given his interview before US President Joe Biden sent a multi-billion dollar request for another military aid package for Ukraine and Israel to Congress for approval. Biden’s address was very timely and cheered up the Ukrainian army, which was in a morale crunch due to the slow pace of the counter-offensive, the prospect of the war dragging on, and concerns that Washington’s internal political divisions in America would derail efforts to provide Ukraine with arms and funding.

Just recently, the Ukrainian army has converted America’s unneeded AIM-9 Sidewinder aircraft missiles into anti-aircraft missiles. The Ukrainian armed forces are in dire need of this class of missiles. A high-ranking Ukrainian official, speaking about a shipment of such weapons delivered to Ukraine, emphasised:

These [AIM-9] missiles were defective. We repaired them. We found a way to launch them from the ground. It’s a kind of homemade air defence.

The process of remodelling Western weapons is ongoing. The Ukrainians are turning old American weapons into extremely important combat systems. The official added:

We have an arrangement whereby we take something obsolete and make it into something completely different.

Establishing co-operation with European and American companies in the military-industrial complex is a priority. This summer, the Ukrainian state-run Ukroboronprom signed an agreement with German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall to repair damaged Leopard tanks and other armoured vehicles and to manufacture new combat vehicles, Financial Times reports.

Ukrainian businessmen believe that the government needs to urgently develop domestic arms production. Ministers recognise that due to the slow pace of the counteroffensive and the internal political crisis in the United States, such a transition is vital.

Answering a question about the divergence of opinions on the provision of aid to Ukraine in Congress, Shmygal said: “The political turmoil inside the USA is of serious concern”.

However, he assured: Kyiv has pious faith in Biden, who promised to help Ukraine “as much as necessary”, and is confident in the unwavering support of the American people.

According to Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister in charge of innovation and digital transformation, the drone revolution, which he oversaw, was enabled by the privatisation of this industry, which had long belonged to the state. If Ukraine decides to develop munitions production, it cannot do without the same transition to a free market in this area as well.

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