09:00 09.11.2023


Ukrainian Military Industry: A Difficult Path of Change

5 min read
Ukrainian Military Industry: A Difficult Path of Change

Musa Magomedov, member of the Parliament of Ukraine, Head of the Subcommittee on Industrial Policy


In the thirty years since the declaration of independence, Ukraine has gone through a thorny path - from the third place in the world in terms of military power to the ability to meet the needs of its own army by only 8%.

The first statement refers to Ukraine under the 1991 model, the second to 2013. But how did it happen that, possessing a super-powerful military potential, Ukraine found itself in actual inability to provide at least a quarter of its military needs? What is currently happening in the military-industrial complex?

In 1991, the military legacy of the Soviet Union was grandiose. The number of personnel in the army was almost 800,000 soldiers, 350 ships, 1,500 aircraft, more than 6,000 tanks, and 1,272 nuclear warheads of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Three tank armies, four air armies, one missile and one air defense army, as well as the Black Sea Fleet, were stationed on the territory of Ukraine. And, of course, super-powerful nuclear potential: intercontinental ballistic missiles, tactical nuclear weapons, strategic bombers with nuclear cruise missiles.

Instead, within the framework of the memorandum, Russia, Great Britain and the USA provided Ukraine with guarantees of territorial security: not to threaten or use force, to refrain from economic coercion that could violate Ukraine's rights, and not to use nuclear weapons.

After 20 years - in 2014, it will become clear that the memorandum does not work. During the distribution of the Black Sea Fleet, Ukraine received 18% of the ship's fleet, 50% of weapons and military equipment. The base of the Russian Federation in Crimea was planned until 2017, but in 2010, the stay of the Russian fleet was scandalously extended until 2042.

But in reality, if you take out the nuclear potential and the navy, Ukraine remained a state with a super-powerful military potential, military schools and a rich material and technical base. However, from the 1990s until the beginning of the invasion of the Russian Federation, two processes continued in our country: disarmament (within the framework of many international treaties and agreements) and the uncontrolled sale of property and equipment.

In 1992, the Verkhovna Rada ratified the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, which determined the maximum level of armaments and military equipment for Ukraine. Accordingly, we reduced the number of tanks from 6,500 to 1,200, aircraft - from 1,500 to 1,000, and the number of armored vehicles was reduced by 2,400 (from 7,000 to 4,600). And in 2016 (already during the war), we neutralized a million anti-personnel mines under the agreement with NATO.

In 2013, the self-sufficiency index of the army reached a record low. It continued to be so even after the annexation of Crimea and the occupation of Donbas. Although, the financing of the industry began to increase. At the beginning of 2014, only 55% of components for military equipment and weapons were produced in Ukraine, we bought 10% from Western countries, and 35% were imported from the Russian Federation. By the beginning of 2020, Ukraine could independently provide about 40% of the needs of the army. The financing of the security and defense sector of Ukraine that year was the largest in all years of independence - 246 billion hryvnias, of which 117.51 billion hryvnias (almost 5 billion US dollars) went to the Ministry of Defense.

Then several questions arise. Why is almost the entire arsenal of weapons during a full-scale invasion provided to us by Europe and the United States?

On the one hand, setting up production on the territory of Ukraine is dangerous because of possible bombings. On the other hand, the first Ukrainian shells in 2022 turned out to be more expensive than imported ones. Our factories could not reduce the cost of production by purchasing other equipment, because they did not have long-term and permanent orders from the Ministry of Defense.

Despite this, I am deeply convinced that the development of the military-industrial complex is one of the main directions of the development of Ukraine's industrial policy for the next decade.

In 2023, the Ministry of Defense seems to have reached an agreement that domestic projectiles will be purchased first, and then imported ones. But we have to build up our own military potential and develop the military industry. After all, security guarantees work, for the most part, only on paper, promises of equipment and weapons are fulfilled in months, and the West and the USA are already "tired" of the war.

Recently, together with a representative of the Ministry of Defense, I visited the industrial tests of mine trawls of domestic production. We discussed the next steps to speed up the certification process for the trawlers to be handed over to the Defense Forces. And this is the only true way. The aggressor neighbor will not disappear anywhere, so we must do everything to support and develop the military industry.