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First UK trade mission to Ukraine boosts defense cooperation

UK defense trade mission to Ukraine leads to major agreements: Contracts for vessel maintenance, specialized artillery support, and a collaborative engineering initiative to strengthen Ukraine’s military capabilities.
Credit: UK Ministry of Defense/X

The UK Government and its defense industry have conducted their inaugural trade mission to Ukraine, marking a significant step in strengthening UK-Ukraine defense and trade relations. This mission, led by the Department for Business and Trade and Ministry of Defense, occurred on 13-14 December, building on continuous UK support for Ukraine since 2014, the UK government announced on 18 December. 

This follows discussions at the Defense and Security Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition in London, where potential partnerships were explored. The trade mission in Kyiv, opened by Ukrainian Defense Minister Umerov, saw UK and Ukrainian government officials and industry leaders discussing long-term cooperation opportunities.

Key outcomes of the mission include several agreements:

  • Babcock secured a three-year contract to support and maintain Ukrainian Navy vessels Cherkas’ and Chernihiv. This aligns with Babcock Ukraine’s recent establishment and office opening in Ukraine.
  • BAE Systems and AMS Integrated Solutions Ltd agreed to provide artillery systems support to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, with repairs and maintenance conducted in AMS’ Ukrainian centers.
  • Thales and Ukrainian Aerodrone signed an MoU, combining Ukrainian and Northern Irish engineering to bolster Ukraine’s Armed Forces capabilities.

These developments highlight Ukraine’s capability to produce high-quality military hardware and its keen interest in Western partnerships to rebuild its defense industrial base.

According to the statement, the UK-Ukraine goods and services trade, totaling £1.5 billion annually, is expected to grow, boosting jobs and supporting Ukraine’s resilience and recovery.

James Cartlidge, Minister for Defense Procurement, emphasized the trade mission’s role in the UK’s unwavering support for Ukraine, highlighting ongoing collaboration opportunities. Nusrat Ghani, Industry Minister and Minister for Ukraine Reconstruction recognized the potential for increased collaboration between the UK’s defense sector and Ukraine, focusing on defense production capacity development and resilience against Putin’s invasion.

Mark Goldsack, Director of UK Defense and Security Exports, commended Ukraine’s resilience and optimism despite the ongoing conflict, noting the trade mission’s success in forging agreements that strengthen both countries’ industrial bases.

Andy Start, DE&S CEO and UK National Armaments Director spoke of the UK Defense Industry’s support for Ukraine since the war’s onset and the benefits of partnering with Ukraine’s substantial defense industry, enhancing collective capacity.

The mission included representatives from BAE Systems, Babcock, Thales, AMS Global, and KBR, with plans for more UK defense companies to participate in future trade missions in 2024.

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