In a bold move to bolster its domestic defense capabilities and supply its ongoing counteroffensive against Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has unveiled ambitious plans to transform Ukraine into a “large military hub.” This vision involves establishing partnerships with Western weapons manufacturers to produce high-quality military equipment and weapons within the country.
Speaking at the International Defence Industries Forum, President Zelenskyy emphasized the critical importance of advancing without retreat, highlighting the daily need for results on the front lines. He expressed a keen interest in localizing the production of essential defense equipment and advanced systems used by Ukrainian soldiers to ensure the best possible outcomes in the field.
Air defense and de-mining were identified as immediate priorities, along with plans to boost domestic production of missiles, drones, and artillery ammunition. These initiatives aim to equip Ukraine’s armed forces with the necessary tools to effectively counter security threats.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg voiced his support for Ukraine’s efforts, emphasizing that “heroism alone cannot intercept missiles” and stressing the need for capabilities, high-quality products, and swift production. He underscored that a strong defense industry is vital for a nation’s security.
Ukraine’s journey to reclaim territories and fend off aggression includes recapturing the southern city of Kherson and a counteroffensive launched in early June to reclaim seized territories. Despite significant advances, Moscow still controls approximately 18% of Ukrainian territory.
Ukraine’s allies have extended significant financial and military support, amounting to tens of billions of dollars, to aid in pushing back Russian forces. The development of Ukraine’s domestic defense industry not only bolsters its security but also holds the potential to boost the country’s economy, which contracted by about a third in the wake of the war.
Notably, several leading Western arms manufacturers, including Germany’s Rheinmetall and the United Kingdom’s BAE Systems, have already expressed plans to collaborate with Ukrainian producers.
To attract Western defense investment, Ukraine is set to introduce new incentives, including tax breaks, preferential access to government contracts, and assistance in securing financing. Additionally, Ukraine is open to sharing its military technology with Western partners, potentially facilitating the exchange of designs for new weapon systems and access to Ukrainian military research facilities.
The establishment of a large military hub in Ukraine presents mutual benefits. Ukraine would reduce its reliance on foreign arms imports, strengthen its domestic defense industry, and enhance its security capabilities. Western partners, in turn, gain access to a reliable source of weapons production in Eastern Europe.
The appointment of Defense Minister Rustem Umerov underscores Ukraine’s commitment to producing essential military services and products domestically. Umerov’s vision aligns with the overarching goal of developing world-class military products to meet the needs of Ukraine’s armed forces.
As Ukraine sets its sights on becoming a global military hub, the nation’s determination and partnerships with Western arms manufacturers promise to reshape its defense landscape and contribute to regional security.