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“Ukraine is ready to rearm in a way that is unusual for Europe...”

Valentyn Badrak on prospects for Ukraine’s military-technical cooperation with the US and Sweden
14 October, 11:05

It is well known that Ukraine has long been asking the US to provide it with lethal weapons to fight the Russian aggression in the eastern regions. America refused these requests for a long time, but Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Derek Chollet said in Washington recently that his government was deliberating on delivering lethal weapons to our country. “We have not abandoned Ukraine to its own fate. We are also working to rebuild the Ukrainian navy. We want to see Ukraine and its military strong,” Chollet was quoted as saying by the Voice of America.

The news of Sweden also deciding to step up its military-technical cooperation with Ukraine has broken out almost simultaneously with Chollet’s statement. A delegation from the Research Institute of Defense of Sweden visited Kyiv recently, meeting with representatives of the Ukrainian defense industry. As a result, the parties have agreed to develop joint defense projects.

What projects can the cooperation with Sweden involve and what particular lethal weapons and help in the navy’s rebuilding can this country receive from the US? The Day posed these questions to director of the Center for Army, Conversion, and Disarmament Valentyn BADRAK.

“Some groups in the US have long deemed it necessary to provide Ukraine with lethal weapons. Senator John McCain and, in particular, General Wesley Clark deserve to be mentioned in this regard. Since the end of June, the latter has done a very solid job in the congress and with the US administration to promote the idea of providing such assistance to Ukraine.

“I would attribute Chollet’s message to the fact that the world has not responded to the direct invasion of the Russian regular army in Ukraine. This means that after the election, should Vladimir Putin believe that he would be unable to reach his objectives through non-violent means, the Kremlin will be able to take further violent steps, possibly including a large-scale war with overt involvement of regular Russian troops.

“Indeed, Ukraine has troubles with its navy. The US can help us prepare its bases and equip the fleet with all systems required. The assistance may include equipment as well. We remember how the US donated warships to Poland or sold them at low prices, as was the case with Romania. It may involve training, because the US has relevant experience and Ukrainian officers have trained there.

“Agreement on cooperation with Sweden is a very important aspect of our policy. This point will be used by other countries in the future. Sweden is neither the first nor the last country to enter the Ukrainian market, provided we make good on these statements and promises. In particular, everyone is now guided by the statement of President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, who promised that about 40 billion hryvnias would be allocated to rearming the military organization of Ukraine over the next three years. This is the main factor that allows European countries to start cooperating with Ukraine.

“The Swedes are very strong in terms of fire control systems, weapons, and radar technology. Swedish company SAAB is a major manufacturer of aircraft (although they are all single-engined). Under certain conditions, they can be inducted into the Ukrainian Air Force. The Swedes understand that the Ukrainians will prefer to buy weapons that have Ukrainian enterprises participating in their production, and therefore they will offer technologies that will interact with the Ukrainian defense industry. Creation of a joint project in light armored vehicles category, equipped with jointly developed anti-missile systems, is possible as well. Ukraine also has some interesting projects, sells them even to NATO countries, but we are talking here about cooperative projects that may be used by agreement of the parties in the interests of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and in the interests of the Swedish Armed Forces, as well as in the markets of third countries.

“However, perhaps the most important explanation for this interest from Sweden or other countries comes from the fact that following the Russian aggression and the war with Russia, Ukraine has become a market, a country that is willing to rearm. At the same time, Ukraine is ready to rearm in a way that is unusual for Europe, by using the national military-industrial complex and developing joint projects with foreign arms manufacturers. None of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe that have joined NATO and received Western armaments had such an important, strong, and globally relevant defense industry.  Still, Western players understand that the national defense industry of Ukraine cannot satisfy all our needs. Countries that exhibit flexibility and want to enter the Ukrainian market feel the need to establish joint ventures and projects.”

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