Ukraine’s military industry should not be underestimated – Analysis – Eurasia Review


By Chan Kung*

With the progression of the war in Ukraine, non-advanced weapons from developed countries have become a global concern. There are a few notable examples of this. For example, the Ukrainian side had used the Starlight anti-aircraft missile to shoot down Russian Ka-52 helicopters, or Stinger to blow up Russian planes. In addition, the Ukrainians also used Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones to destroy Russian tanks. Those who pay attention to these developments often forget one of the most critical roles, namely that the Ukrainian Stugna, which is the most commonly used anti-tank weapon in the Ukrainian army, can also be the missile that shoots down vehicles the most armored of the Russian Army.

Many have in fact grossly underestimated the Ukrainian military industry.

Before the start of the war, the overall military and defense production system of Ukraine had in fact been decentralized, which was completely preserved in accordance with the supply chain system. For Ukraine to be able to wage a protracted war with the disproportionately stronger Russia, the world’s second largest military power, in addition to the three necessary conditions of people’s will to resist, arms and information, and strategy the use of environmental land, there is a fourth key condition that is rarely mentioned so far. It would be Ukraine’s defense industry and military system, which can be effectively mobilized in times of war.

In fact, long before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Ukrainian defense industry was the main pillar and core of the Soviet military-industrial complex. At that time, more than 30% of the Soviet Empire’s arms production came from Ukraine. As part of the arms race of the long global Cold War, 40% of advanced technology development in the Soviet Union came from Ukrainian scientific research institutes. Most of the Soviet Union’s long-range strategic intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) were produced at the Yuzhmash plant in Dnipro, Ukraine’s fourth largest city. It was not only China that got aircraft carrier technology from Ukraine, Russian aircraft carriers and many of its warships were also produced there.

In 1991, after the independence of Ukraine, according to statistics, it had 1,840 military enterprises and scientific research institutes for armaments, the total number of employment in the military industry reached 2.7 million. During the current war, it is often seen in videos posted online that some elderly Ukrainian farmers and laborers use tractors to pull armored vehicles left behind by the Russian army, and they even knew how to repair and modify these vehicles. It is clear that these old people were previously in the military industry, although retired, they retain experiences accumulated over many years that are only shown during the war.

According to incomplete statistics, during the first five years of the founding of Ukraine, from 1992 to 1996, there were 113 military-civilian equipment enterprises in the country. Even then, these companies were clandestine arsenals for global conflicts. Military equipment made in Ukraine could be found all over the world. In order to remedy such a chaotic situation, the Ukrainian government passed a law in 1996 to nationalize arms exports and created a large state-owned company as a one-stop shop for arms and equipment exports, standardizing the system of military industry export controls.

Until 2014, the Ukrainian military industry system was still export-oriented, where the country even became the fourth largest arms exporter in the world in 2012. In fact, all countries that use weapons of the type in the world are based on various key elements. made in Ukraine. Military maintenance, repair and operation (MRO) alone has ensured its military industry an annual growth rate of almost 60%. Moreover, all countries, including Russia, are actually heavily dependent on the Ukrainian military industrial chain. At its peak in 2012, Ukraine recorded a huge export scale of 117 billion hryvnia, 90% of which was exported to Russia as equipment reserve.

When the Crimean War broke out in 2014, Ukraine finally realized that the biggest threat to the country’s survival turned out to be Russia. The various pieces of armament produced in the past would eventually help Russia invade and attack Ukraine itself. From then on, Ukraine began to adjust the orientation of its military industry to domestic demand.

In the current war, it is a shock to the world that the Ukrainian army could withstand the sudden attack of the Russian army, and even launch counterattacks. This can be attributed to military industrial enterprises of Ukraine, including integrated military-civilian enterprises. They have a strong reserve of technical talent and can quickly repair a large number of captured Russian military equipment, transferring it to the Ukrainian army. This is one of the main reasons why the Ukrainian army can fight a protracted war.

In fact, the Ukrainian army is not weak at all. According to GFP’s 2022 Global Military Strength Rankings, Ukraine’s military ranks 22nd in the world and its combat power rating is far higher than that of Vietnam and North Korea. Its realization today is not fortuitous.

*Chan Kung, founder of ANBOUND Think Tank (established in 1993), Mr. Chan Kung is one of China’s renowned experts in information analysis. Most of Chan Kung’s outstanding academic research activities are in the analysis of economic information, especially in the area of ​​public policy.


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