Ukraine signs ‘dozens’ of joint production deals with Western defence firms

(Reuters) – Ukraine has agreed dozens of contracts for joint production or technology exchanges with Western partners, Kyiv said on Friday, as it strives to reduce its dependence on military supplies from the West and to boost domestic output.

The effort to ramp up production at home has become critically important as the future of large-scale military aid from the United States and European Union appears more uncertain and Western stockpiles have become more depleted.

“We have dozens of new contracts between companies on joint production or technology exchange,” Ukraine’s Defence Minister Rustem Umerov said in a Facebook post.

He pointed to an international defence industry forum hosted by Kyiv in September with more than 250 Western weapons producers, followed by a joint Ukraine-U.S. defence conference in Washington in December.

“We signed a memorandum with the United States on joint production and technical data sharing,” Umerov said.

This week, Kyiv hosted another conference with the largest British defence manufacturers including Babcock International Group and BAE Systems participating, state-owned arms maker Ukroboronprom said on Telegram messenger.

“I called on British defence companies to use Ukrainian factors — the possibility of testing weaponry in combat and getting quick feedback from the military — for transparent and effective cooperation with Ukrainian manufacturers,” Umerov said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said Ukraine does not want to rely solely on military aid from allies and aims to become a donor of security for its neighbours in the future.

Ukraine is seeking more agreements similar to its venture with German arms producer Rheinmetall AG to service and repair Western weapons, and an agreement with two American firms to jointly manufacture vital 155 mm artillery shells.

Domestic defence output has tripled in 2023, according to the strategic industries ministry, and is expected to increase six times more in 2024.

(Reporting by Yuliia Dysa, Editing by William Maclean, Kirsten Donovan)