Espreso. Global

Ukrainian MoD's poor understanding of local needs creates problems for defense companies. Serhiy Zgurets' Column

7 December, 2023 Thursday

Ukraine needs to improve and increase its own defense industry. This includes scaling up all production for the army’s needs. In particular, bulletproof vests, drones, munitions, missiles, electronic warfare, and small arms

Ukrainian-American Arms Manufacturing Conference in Washington, DC

In order to deter the enemy, we must always improve and increase our own defense industry. The help of our partners is good, but we should always rely on more than just them. This applies to scaling up all production for the needs of the frontline. In particular, body armor, drones, ammunition, small arms, etc. This can be done independently or in cooperation with our partners. On December 6, the first Ukrainian-American conference on arms production began in the United States. The event was supported by the Pentagon and the US Department of Commerce. The conference will look for ways in which US defense companies can help their counterparts in Ukraine. The day before, US Special Representative for Economic Recovery Penny Pritzker said that Ukraine has a lot to offer Western defense companies as a defense market. "Our government officials are in Washington, but the main thing is that representatives of a number of defense companies are already there. One of them said that we will definitely be talking about joint ventures, the possibility of licensed arms production, and financing for these projects. So now everyone realizes that there are certain risks, and on the other hand, there is a need for a qualitatively new interaction. By the way, the meeting in Washington is a continuation of the conference held in Kyiv. That meeting was attended by representatives of 270 companies from different countries. It was then that a number of projects were announced that are now secret. Now we are all waiting for the results of the meeting in Washington, which we will also report.

Fuchs armored personnel carrier, which Rheinmetall plans to produce in Ukraine (photo: gettyimages)

Ukraine's Defense Ministry should change its approach to formulating the army's needs

Serhiy Minyayluk, director of Velmet LLC, said that due to a number of problems, we are beginning to resemble our enemy. According to him, the company continues to operate and produce bulletproof vests for the Armed Forces. However, it does not supply anything to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry. The main problem is the requirements of the Ministry of Defense. According to him, there is a big problem with communication from the Kyiv office of the Defense Ministry to the military unit in Khmelnytskyi. This makes it impossible to assess the needs qualitatively. He emphasized that in a full-scale war, the main need is the lives of our soldiers. Therefore, the company continues to work and supplies bulletproof vests to individual units, which, according to Minyayluk, buy such equipment at their own expense. Previously, the Defense Ministry used to prepare different bulletproof vests depending on the tasks of the units. Now the needs of each soldier are almost the same. However, due to the lack of communication and identification of needs, the Ministry of Defense often has to pay with the most expensive thing - the lives of our servicemen.

Serhiy Minyayluk also said that there is a certain declaration of changes now. However, it is hard to say whether they will really be implemented in this situation. According to him, everything will depend on the specialists at the Ministry of Defense. That is, the presence of a person who can clearly analyze all the needs and requirements directly from the military. Then all this can be summarized in a separate document that will approve the basic requirements for the production of body armor for the Armed Forces. Only then will our military be able to receive the protection they need. However, according to Minyayluk, in practice, no steps have been taken in this direction in recent years. He emphasized that the task of all defense companies is to bring Ukraine's victory closer. Most importantly, at the lowest possible cost. Therefore, if no changes are made, we may pay a heavy price in this war.

Arms exhibition in Egypt. Ukraine represents a number of defense companies

Vladyslav Belbas, CEO of Ukrainian Armor, said that Ukraine is represented at the Egyptian arms show by an association of united enterprises. The main goal of Ukrainian companies is to expand cooperation ties. Belbas noted that this is the third time such an arms exhibition has been held in Egypt. Egypt was a country that was oriented toward the USSR, which is why the country still has a lot of Soviet-type equipment. Many weapons in Egypt are manufactured similarly to Ukrainian systems. After 2019, they radically changed their approach to arming their army. In particular, Western types of weapons have been supplied instead of Russian weapons. According to Belbas, Ukrainian companies want to focus Egypt's attention on Ukraine. In particular, in cooperation in the defense sector. Belbas also said that Ukraine is represented by several companies that produce drones. This is exactly the type of weapon that foreign markets are interested in. Ukrainian companies also represent armored vehicles, radar systems, and products of the Luch State Design Bureau.

Vladyslav Belbas also commented on the events in Washington, where Ukrainian defense companies are discussing joint cooperation and production projects with their American counterparts. Unfortunately, many details cannot be disclosed today, but, according to Belbas, things are really moving and do not stop at just words and statements. However, according to him, there may be a number of problems that could slow down such cooperation. In particular, the regulatory framework we have. Everyone remembers the SASU (State Audit Service of Ukraine) scandal, which has not yet been resolved. For Western companies, this approach is unacceptable. No Western company will operate in Ukraine if its profit is treated as a loss. Another problem is creating demand for the equipment we are willing to buy.

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