British weapons could soon be manufactured in Ukraine under a plan that would significantly boost cooperation between Kyiv and NATO and further raise tensions with Moscow, The Telegraph reported on Saturday.
The report said UK defense industry executives are discussing the plans with their Ukrainian counterparts and have recently traveled to the country. Their vision is to set up joint ventures to manufacture weapons and military vehicles locally inside Urkaine under license.
Arms makers from other European countries are also in talks to begin producing weapons inside Ukraine. One British industry source told The Telegraph that they are trying to get “at the front of the queue” to beat other countries to the punch, including companies in France and Germany.
Russia would view such cooperation as a significant step toward Ukrainian NATO membership, although Ukrainian officials believe they’re already a “de facto” member of the Western military alliance. Factories producing NATO weapons inside Ukraine would likely be targeted by the Russian military.
Producing weapons inside Ukraine could ease the burden on US and other NATO countries’ military stockpiles that are being depleted by arming Ukraine. But any arrangement would take years to set up, and the plan demonstrates how the West expects to support Ukraine for the long term.
POLITICO reported in October that NATO has a 10-year plan to rebuild Ukraine’s military and arms industry to make the country more interoperable with the alliance. “It’s about shifting away from Soviet equipment … to NATO-compatible Western equipment,” a senior NATO official said of the plan. “We’ll be looking at ways to try and rebuild Ukraine’s defense industry.”