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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Eastern Europe Ramps Up Weapons Production to Arm Ukraine

Allies have been providing arms and ammunition to Kyiv since Russia began its "special military operation"

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UKRAINE: Eastern Europe’s arms production is in full swing, producing guns, artillery shells, and other military supplies at a pace not seen since the Cold War, as governments in the region mobilise efforts to aid Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

Allies have been providing arms and ammunition to Kyiv since Russia began its “special military operation” on February 24, depleting their own stockpiles along the way.

The United States and Britain pledged the most direct military aid to Ukraine between January 24 and October 3, a Kiel Institute for the World Economy tracker shows, with Poland in the third position and the Czech Republic ninth.

Some former Warsaw Pact countries are helping Ukraine as a matter of regional security while being wary of its Soviet-era master, Russia.

But the new arms production also presents a new window of opportunity for the region’s armament industry, according to government and company officials and analysts.

“Taking into account the realities of the ongoing war in Ukraine and the visible attitude of many countries aimed at increased spending in the field of defence budgets, there is a real chance to enter new markets and increase export revenues in the coming years,” said Sebastian Chwalek, CEO of Poland’s PGZ.

State-owned PGZ controls more than 50 companies that mass produce weapons and ammunition—from armoured transporters to unmanned air systems—and has company stakes in many more.

PGZ plans to invest nearly 8 billion zlotys ($1.8 billion) over the next decade, more than double its pre-ward budget, Chwalek said. That plan includes new facilities located near Russia’s border with its ally Belarus, for several security reasons, he said.

Government officials from Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic notified the public that new infrastructural facilities and manufacturers are increasing production capacity and hiring more workers to boost production.

Following Russia’s attack, some eastern European militaries and weapons manufacturers began emptying out their warehouses of Soviet-era weapons and ammunition that Ukrainians knew all too well as Kyiv waited for NATO-standard equipment to arrive from the West.

Now that those stockpiles have dwindled, more arms and armaments are being produced to fill the void.

The new stream of weapons has allowed Kyiv to thrash Russian forces on the field and recapture huge tracts of territory from the Red Army.

Chwalek said PGZ would now produce 1,000 portable Piorun manpad air-defence systems in 2023—not all for Ukraine—compared to 600 in 2022 and 300 to 350 in previous years.

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