A top Ukrainian official said Kiev is seeking to become one of the largest arms manufacturers in the world. The statement comes as the Biden administration has begun pushing Ukraine to engage in talks with Russia on ending the war. Ukraine developing a large weapons industry and selling those arms to the enemies of Russia will likely interfere with any deals to end the conflict.
The czar of Ukraine’s weapons industry believes that Kiev should become an arms production hub for the West. Oleksandr Kamysyhin, the minister for strategic industries of Ukraine, explained, “We’re really focusing on making Ukraine the arsenal of the free world.”
He told the AP on Friday, “We are focused on producing all types of weapons and ammunition, and we show that we can test it on the battlefield and make it better during the war.” Kamysyhin added, “That’s something we can contribute to the free world, because as you see, defense industry is becoming more and more important globally.”
While Kamysyhin is eyeing exporting arms in the future, currently, Kiev and Ukraine’s Western backers are struggling to adequately provide frontline soldiers with weapons to fight Russian forces.
The US depleted its surplus stockpiles of 155MM artillery rounds and long-range missiles. This has resulted in the White House violating American laws by sending Ukraine cluster bombs. Additionally, The Biden administration has nearly exhausted the over $100 billion in funding for the war in Ukraine authorized by Congress. The White House relies on funds made available through a Pentagon “accounting error” to ship arms to Kiev.
On the battlefield, Time Magazine reports speaking with Ukrainian officials who say Kiev lacks the weapons and soldiers it needs to win the war. Gen. Valery Zaluzhnyy told the Economist, “There will most likely be no deep and beautiful breakthrough.”
The bleak outlook on the war by some in Kiev is matched in Western capitals. NBC News reports that there is a growing number of Ukraine’s key supporters who are now encouraging the Zelensky administration to start to think about negotiating an end to the war. At a conference last month, Western officials held conversations with Ukrainian leaders “included very broad outlines of what Ukraine might need to give up to reach a deal.”
A negotiated settlement to the war will conflict with Kamysyhin’s plan to turn Ukraine into an arms hub. In the early months of the conflict, Moscow was willing to reach a peace deal with Kiev that involved Ukraine declaring neutrality and demilitarizing.