Dozens of international firms join Kyiv’s new defense industry alliance

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President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sept. 30 announced the creation of an international alliance between defense industries. They will work together to build capacities to defend against outside aggression.

Any defense contractors are welcome to join, as long as they share Ukraine’s values of resisting hostile encroachment and upholding international law, the Ukrainian leader said.

Zelensky made his speech at Ukraine’s first ever international forum for defense industries, which was attended by 252 companies from over 30 countries spanning Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australia.

“We have developed a basic declaration as the foundation of this alliance. It can be joined by weapons and military equipment manufacturers from all around the world, who share our intent to provide real protection against aggression,” Zelensky said.

“Today, this declaration already includes 13 prominent companies that, together with Ukraine, are ready to build the new arsenal of the free world.”

The Foreign Ministry soon came out with a statement that 38 companies from 19 countries already joined up.

Among other capabilities, the alliance will eventually pave the way for Ukraine to localize production of licensed foreign weapons on Ukrainian soil, said Andriy Yermak, head of the president’s office. During his recent visit to Washington, Zelensky and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed to have their teams hammer out a roadmap for this kind of localization.

Yermak pointed out that before independence, Ukraine was the scientific and manufacturing center of the Soviet Union.

Zelensky also announced the creation of a special defense fund that will support the development of new weapons and existing military assets and programs. It will be financed with dividends from state defense companies and the sale of seized Russian assets.

Several major defense contractors such as Rheinmetall have previously expressed interest in opening factories on Ukrainian soil, in spite of the threat posed by Russian attacks.

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