KYIV – Ukraine has almost entirely found substitutes for Russian parts for its arms manufactures, according to a government official.
Three years after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its arming of separatists, import substitution is playing a ke role in reforming the defense sector, Yuriy Brovchenko, Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade, told the Ukrainian Defense and Security Forum 2017 last week.
"In the past, there was a very strong dependence on component parts for weapons and military vehicles that were produced in the Russian Federation,” he told the annual gathering on Thursday. “But now we can say that we have carried out import substitution, regarding the Russian Federation in the sphere of the military–industrial complex, by almost 100%."
After decades locked into the Soviet military-industrial complex, Ukraine has made almost a clean break. Substituting Russian parts with domestic and Western imports is considered a major achievement.
Under the pressure of war, Ukraine is developing new defense industry technologies and is putting them quickly into production.
“Today we can say that progress in the formation of a strategic vision for the defense and security sector has been achieved,” Brovchenko asserted.
Also at the meeting, Deputy Defense Minister Igor Pavlovsky said the conflict in Ukraine’s Donbas amounts to Russia using Ukrainian territory as a testing ground for new arms and tactics.
“Russia is waging a hybrid war against Ukraine and increasing military pressure despite the Minsk agreements,” Pavlovsky said, referring to agreements signed in the Belarus capital which have failed to halt the conflict.
“It is not just an aggression, it is a war of attrition,” he said of a war where the front line has changed little in the last two years.
Ukraine’s answer, he said, is to pursue two top priorities -- economic transformation and development of the defense and security sector.
The II Ukrainian Defense & Security Forum 2017 brought together about 500 investors, business representatives, government and military officials from about 20 countries.
Aleksander Vinnikov, head of the NATO liaison office in Ukraine, said NATO continues to “provide active political support” and recognized Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
He said NATO is modernizing cooperation with Ukraine through its C4 Trust Fund -- Command, Control, Communications and Computers.
“Ukraine's cooperation with NATO now consists of three main things: an unprecedented dynamism, reform of the defense sector, and reform of the defense industry.” he told participants.
IN 2008, Ukraine applied to join NATO’s Membership Action Plan. At the time, polls indicated that only a minority of Ukrainians wanted to join NATO. But after Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, polled support for joining Ukraine has risen as high as 75 percent.
In March 2016, Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, said it would take at least 20 years for Ukraine to join the EU and NATO.
But two months ago, President Poroshenko promised to hold a referendum on joining NATO.
On Friday, the President presided over a ceremony here handing over $21 million of advanced military radios donated by the United States. Destined for Ukraine's State Border Guard Service, the radios were produced by the Harris Corp., a defense telecommunications manufacturer based in Florida.
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Posted April 30, 2017