British defense industry executives have discussed plans with their counterparts in Kiev to set up joint ventures to manufacture weapons and vehicles locally in Ukraine, a report says.
The Telegraph newspaper reported on Sunday senior defense industry officials had traveled to Kiev with a view to setting up joint ventures that would manufacture arms under license. Manufacturers from other European countries were also in discussions with Ukraine, the Telegraph said, citing one executive saying there was a race to put Britain “at the front of the queue.”
Any joint venture between a defense manufacturer and Ukraine would likely need the British government’s sign-off, and such a move would further antagonize Moscow, it said.
On Wednesday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky traveled to London and Paris to appeal for more Western arms, including modern fighter jets and heavy long-range weapons. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told him “nothing is off the table” when it comes to supplying Ukraine with jets to fight Russia.
Russia’s embassy in Britain has warned any delivery of British fighter jets to Ukraine would have serious military and political ramifications.
Zelensky is desperately trying to secure fighter jets and long-range weapons from European allies, saying they are needed to defend Ukraine against Russian forces, who are reportedly gearing up for a spring offensive.
The British prime minister has already promised to train Ukrainian pilots to fly advanced NATO fighter jets.
Russia launched what it calls “a special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, over the perceived threat of the ex-Soviet republic joining NATO. Since then, the United States and Ukraine’s other allies have sent Kiev tens of billions of dollars’ worth of weapons, including rocket systems, drones, armored vehicles, tanks, and communication systems. Western countries have also imposed a slew of economic sanctions on Moscow. The Kremlin has said the sanctions and the Western military assistance will only prolong the war.