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Zelenskyy launches new alliance with global defense companies

A new initiative aims to jointly build defense capabilities against aggression and localize foreign weapons production on Ukraine’s soil; so far, 38 companies from 19 countries joined the Defense Industries Alliance.
Photo: OP. Zelenskyy gives speech on Kyiv’s first defense forum
Zelenskyy launches new alliance with global defense companies

On 29 September 2023, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the formation of a new international Alliance of Defense Industries during a defense industry forum in Kyiv.

About 252 defense companies from over 30 American, Asian, Australian, and European countries joined Kyiv’s first Defense Industries Forum.

During his speech, Zelenskyy said that Ukraine, together with the companies included in the alliance declaration, is “ready to build the new arsenal of the free world.”

“We have developed a basic declaration as the foundation of this alliance. It can be joined by weapons and military equipment manufacturers worldwide, who share our intent to provide real protection against [Russian] aggression,” Zelenskyy added.

Later the Foreign Ministry announced that 38 companies from 19 countries already joined the Alliance declaration after the Forum.

Zelenskyy said Ukraine is developing “a special economic regime for the defense industry to allow every company that works for defense to realize their potential.” In addition, Zelensky also announced the creation of a special defense fund, which the Defense Ministry will operate.

“It [the defense fund] will support the development of new weapons and existing military assets and programs. The fund will receive financing from dividends from state-owned defense assets and profits from the sale of confiscated Russian assets,” the President explained.

According to the announcement, any manufacturer of weapons and military equipment worldwide can join the Alliance.

Among other capabilities, the alliance will eventually pave the way for Ukraine to localize the production of licensed foreign weapons on Ukrainian soil, said Andriy Yermak, Head of the Presidential Office.

“Ukraine is interested in localizing the production of necessary defense equipment and each of the cutting-edge defense systems used effectively by our warriors on the frontline today… This collaboration – in producing weapons, equipment, and ammunition – is already being negotiated with our partners,” Zelenskyy added.

The first International Defense Industries Forum (DFNC1) in Kyiv brought together 252 companies from over 30 countries that produce a full range of weapons, military equipment, and defense systems. The Ministry of Strategic Industries, the Ministry of Defense, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs jointly organized the forum.

The event included manufacturers of tanks, artillery, drones, and ammunition, developers of innovative software, and owners of unique sophisticated technologies from partner countries. In addition, Ukrainian state-owned and private defense industry enterprises, both large groups of companies and defense-tech startups participated.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy opened the forum. Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, Defense Minister Rustem Umerov, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, and other Ukraine’s official authorities addressed the speech to the guests.

Photo: the Presidential Office.

“Ukraine has the necessary base to build a powerful defense industry. Ukrainian enterprises are already producing artillery ammunition and rounds, NATO-caliber 155 mm artillery systems, and unique automated systems: marine drones, long-range UAVs, missiles, and anti-tank systems used effectively at the front. The pace of Ukrainian production development and technologies is constantly increasing,” the Foreign Ministry wrote in a statement.

The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrelll, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Deputy Secretary General Wendy Gilmore, and other European authorities joined the first defense Forum in Kyiv via video call.

Photo: the Presidential Office.

Several major defense contractors, such as Rheinmetall and Ukraine’s state-owned defense company, Ukrainian Defense Industry (UDI), had planned previously to establish a joint venture in Kyiv for military vehicle services, assembly, and production.

The joint venture would focus on maintaining and repairing vehicles transferred to Ukraine from Germany as part of the government’s military aid program. In later phases, the partners intend to jointly manufacture selected Rheinmetall defense products in Ukraine based on a comprehensive technology transfer.

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