Ukraine Signs Weapons Deal with UAE to Keep Fighting Russian Rebels

AP Photo/Mykola Lazarenko, Pool
AP Photo/Mykola Lazarenko, Pool

This week, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a deal at the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) to buy weapons from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Ukraine is in dire need of weapons due to Russia’s invasion and minimal support from the West.

Translation: Reached agreement with the UAE. It will enhance the capabilities of the Ukrainian Army.

“We are in a very practical dialogue, and we hope in the very near future, we have a decision to help us attain defensive weapons,” announced Poroshenko. “I want to stress that the defensive capabilities for the Ukrainian Army are only to defend our territory, to keep our independence, to keep our sovereignty. We do not have any plans to attack anybody.”

Former President Viktor Yanukovych depleted the national army and bankrupted the country during his tenure. Parliament ousted him last February after he abandoned plans for closer ties to Europe for a close partnership with Russia. After he left, Russia and pro-Russian separatists started a war in east Ukraine, which has killed almost 6,000 people.

The West is certain diplomatic means are the only way to defeat Russia, but the Russian soldiers and pro-Russian separatists broke a peace agreement right after it went into effect on February 15. The Ukrainian government also confirmed more Russian soldiers and weapons had crossed the border during the week.

Poroshenko met with UAE’s crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and observed the conference floor, filled with military weapons. Poroshenko, along with other Ukrainian officials, met with Emirati leaders about a “very important negotiation about the facilitation of the United Arab Emirates investment in the Ukraine.” Neither side released details about the agreement, but did say it is a “very important memorandum about military and technical cooperation.”

The two sides “also discussed practical steps to assist the banking sector” while Ukrainian officials struck deals with other countries and companies. Poroshenko called these deals “extremely important so we have the money to modernize our armed forces.” Ukroboronprom, a company formed in 2010 specializing in arms, attended the conference.

“Sometimes when you have this kind of enemy on your border, the people get their act together and start moving very quickly,” said Nadiia Stechyshyna, the investments adviser to Ukroboronprom’s CEO. “Nobody actually paid any attention to the way the Army was equipped for the last 23 years. Everybody was feeling safe and secure, so there was basically zero investment in the armed forces. So sometimes what we are doing right now is getting back to the basics.”

Ukroboronprom hoped to use IDEX as a way to “market its own defense products” and build relationships with foreign partners who already own the capabilities to massively produce weapons. But Stechyshyna stressed the company’s presence at IDEX was the most important.

“Not being here might have been interpreted that we are scared,” she said. “We have to show that we have the production. We have to show that we have the products that can defend ourself from threats.”