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Germany’s Rheinmetall and Ukrainian state-owned arms manufacturer Ukroboronprom have entered into a strategic co-operation agreement, Rheinmetall announced on 13 May 2023.

Co-operation between the two organisations is intended to strengthen the Ukrainian defence industry and ultimately its national security through the step-by-step creation of joint defence technology capabilities that will be resident in Ukraine.

“Under this agreement Ukraine will benefit from a comprehensive transfer of technology, the creation of additional defence technology capacities in Ukraine, additional local valued added, and the short-term delivery of military equipment from Germany,” Rheinmetall noted in a press release. “To begin with – subject to official approval – a joint venture will be set up to serve as a bridge between Rheinmetall and Ukraine’s existing state-owned defence sector. Closing is scheduled for the end of June 2023, and the joint venture is expected to be operational from mid-July 2023.”

“Meeting Ukraine’s urgent needs in its fight for freedom and democracy as quickly as possible [following the Russian invasion of February 2022] is a matter of central importance to us at Rheinmetall,” the company’s chief executive, Armin Papperger, was quoted as saying. “Thanks to its expertise and capabilities, Rheinmetall has what it takes to be a valuable and powerful partner to Ukraine, both in the short term and in the long run. We are pleased to have Ukroboronprom, led by Yuriy Husyev, as a very capable and trustworthy partner at our side.

“We are proud that Germany is doing everything it can to help the people of Ukraine – be it in the form of humanitarian aid, financial support or military equipment,” Papperger continued. “Here, Rheinmetall works closely with the German government, assuring that help reaches Ukraine as quickly and efficiently as possible. In times of change, we take responsibility by doing our part to secure peace in Europe.”

Maintaining vehicle types already gifted to Ukraine by Germany, such as Leopard 2 main battle tanks, will form the initial basis for Rheinmetall’s strategic co-operation with Ukrainian state-owned arms manufacturer Ukroboronprom. (Photo: Rheinmetall)

Yuriy Husyev, the General Director of Ukroboronprom, was quoted as saying, “I am honoured to set up the joint venture between one of the world’s leading manufacturers in the defence industry, Rheinmetall, and the leading, full-scale operating, Ukrainian defence producer, which [has] increased the production of military equipment and armoured vehicles despite of numerous Russian missiles attacks: the State Concern Ukroboronprom. Already working 24/7 for the victory, Ukroboronprom can do even more while having such a partner as Rheinmetall. We are thankful to Rheinmetall for their willingness to help us defeat Russia. We will do all our best to make this co-operation useful to defence forces of Ukraine as soon as possible.”

As a first step, the maintenance and repair of vehicles transferred to Ukraine under the German government’s multilateral ‘Ringtausch’ equipment exchange projects, as well as those directly supplied to Ukraine, will form the foundation of initial co-operative measures. In later phases, based on a comprehensive transfer of technology, the co-operation partners intend to jointly produce selected Rheinmetall products in Ukraine.

Further ahead, co-operation between Rheinmetall and Ukroboronprom could also involve the joint development of military systems by teams of Ukrainian and German specialists, including for subsequent export from Ukraine, Rheinmetall noted.

Peter Felstead