(Kyiv) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky inaugurated in Kyiv a first international forum dedicated to the defense industry, in the hope of attracting manufacturers capable of producing weapons in Ukraine and “building an arsenal” in front of it. to Russia.
Since the start of the Russian invasion in 2022, Ukraine has been very dependent on Western arms deliveries for its war effort. Faced with the slowness of the counter-offensive that Kyiv launched in June, the Ukrainian authorities fear a loss of steam in the Western will to continue this support at such a level.
It is in this context that Ukraine brought together 252 defense sector companies from 30 countries in Kyiv on Friday for a forum intended to convince them to establish themselves in the country at war.
“We are interested in localizing the production of equipment necessary for our defense and advanced defense systems used by our soldiers,” summarized Mr. Zelensky in his introductory speech, broadcast on Saturday.
The objective, according to him, is to “build a modern and powerful arsenal”, at a time when Russia is also striving to increase its military production capabilities.
Mr. Zelensky thus announced the creation of an “Alliance of Defense Industries” already joined by “13 leading companies” in the sector, he assured. He also promised a “special economic regime” for those who agree to settle in Ukraine.
According to him, a “special defense fund” will also be created for military production, funded in particular by “profits from the sale of confiscated Russian assets”.
The subject of relocating defense industries to Ukraine was raised during Mr. Zelensky’s recent visit to the United States, according to the Ukrainian presidency.
The head of the Ukrainian presidential administration Andriï Iermak thus mentioned an agreement between Kyiv and Washington to begin “negotiations” on this subject “in the near future”.
The French Minister of the Armed Forces, Sébastien Lecornu, also promoted during a visit to Kyiv on Thursday the move from a logic of selling military equipment to the establishment of industrial partnerships.
At the International Defense Industries Forum, the head of Ukrainian diplomacy Dmytro Kuleba also called on African countries to manufacture Ukrainian weapons on their soil.
“Africa was one of the largest markets for Ukrainian military products before the outbreak” of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Kuleba said during a closed-door roundtable on Friday.
And since Ukraine is no longer able to sell weapons to Africa, African countries could produce Ukrainian weapons and ammunition on their own territory, he added: “this is because the African partner understands that Ukrainian weapons will be of very high quality and considers us a partner.”
Kyiv has been heavily dependent on Western aid since the Russian invasion in February 2022, but is increasingly seeking to strengthen its own arms industry, in case support from its allies weakens.
Medvedev promises more conquests
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev vowed on Saturday that Russia will capture more territory in Ukraine, a year after the claimed annexation of four Ukrainian regions, presented by Vladimir Putin as the fulfillment of the imperial project of “New Russia” .
“The special military operation [en Ukraine] will continue until the complete destruction of the Nazi regime in Kyiv and the liberation of originally Russian territories from the hands of the enemy,” Mr. Medvedev wrote on Telegram.
“Victory will be ours. And more new regions will join Russia,” continued the current number two of the Russian Security Council and zealous supporter of the attack on the Kremlin in Ukraine.
For his part, Russian President Vladimir Putin promised “regeneration and socio-economic development” of the annexed regions in Ukraine, in a filmed speech broadcast on Saturday by the Kremlin.
“By defending our fellow citizens in Donbass and New Russia [projet impérial d’intégration par Moscou du sud et l’est de l’Ukraine, NDLR]we defend Russia itself and fight for our homeland, our sovereignty, for our spiritual values and our unity,” Mr. Putin assured.
At the end of September 2022, after the organization of “referenda” deemed fictitious by Kyiv and the West, Vladimir Putin approved the annexation of the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk (East), as well as those of Zaporizhia and Kherson (South). .
These annexations have triggered strong condemnations from Ukraine and its Western supporters, who consider them “illegal”.
September 30 was declared “reunification day” by Vladimir Putin. But Russia only partially controls these regions and faces a counter-offensive from Ukraine, which seeks to retake them.
Large fire after oil pipeline rupture
A large fire broke out on Saturday after an oil pipeline ruptured in western Ukraine, injuring nine people, five of them seriously, authorities said.
The disaster caused an oil leak over an area of 100 m2 before the fire was brought under control.
“At 5 p.m. (10 a.m. Eastern Time), near the village of Strymba, Nadvirna district, an oil pipeline (150 millimeters in diameter) ruptured,” the National Emergency Service of Ukraine said .
A fire then broke out for reasons still unknown and local media reported that a powerful explosion had occurred.
“Nine people were injured,” said the region’s governor, Svetlana Onyshchuk. “According to preliminary information, two children and three adults are in critical condition, with numerous burns,” she added.
Images posted on social networks, the authenticity of which AFP was unable to verify, showed thick clouds of black smoke above what looks like a village.
The site of the fire is hundreds of kilometers from the fighting with Russian forces, in the eastern part of the country.