Ukraine launches scheme to modernise military

Katie Sadler

Programme includes development of new weapon systems designed to enhance military re-armament efforts and to develop Ukrainian defence exports

Ukraine Army
Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko
 launches programme to modernise armed forces (source:

Ukraine has launched an ambitious programme to overhaul and modernise its armed forces following a hike in national defence equating to $5.1bn.

“We’re starting the programme of military-technical modernisation of the army, we must bring our weapons to the level of the 21st century,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said in Kiev on August 23.

The programme includes the development of new weapon systems designed to enhance the country’s military re-armament efforts and to develop Ukrainian defence exports.

SEE ALSO: Ukraine close to acquiring combat UGV

“There are important tasks in developing and setting up the production of new missile weapons, cruise missile systems, modern artillery systems, precision munitions, unmanned aerial vehicles, electronic warfare complexes, counter battery radars, space reconnaissance,” President Poroshenko added.


The launch of the modernisation programme follows the promise of US support from Defence Secretary James Mattis during a visit to the country on August 24. Secretary Mattis promised Washington would keep up pressure on Russia and pledged to provide weapons to Kiev.

The US defence secretary also stressed Russia had not abided by the Minsk ceasefire agreement, which was established to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine and as a result the US would maintain sanctions against Moscow.

The conflict has recently been heightened by 36 reported Russian-backed separatist attacks on Ukrainian troops in the region of Donbas on this month. There were no Ukrainian military casualties reported following the attack.

Speaking during the defence secretary’s visit, President Poroshenko said: “Ukraine is ready to give a harsh military response to the aggressor and his attempt to launch an offensive. However, we proceed from the priority of peaceful, diplomatic and legal ways of returning Donbas and Crimea.”

In order to reinforce Ukraine’s military export efforts, Ukrinmash, a Ukrainian state-owned export promotion firm, signed a bilateral defence cooperation agreement with United Arab Emirates (UAE) in early August. The agreement explores cooperation in the production of precision-guided weapons for the Emirati Army and Navy; the delivery of Antonov transport aircraft to the UAE Air Force; the production of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and anti-UAV systems; and the joint production of electronic warfare (EW) and signals intelligence (SIGINT) equipment.

Furthermore, Ukraine is in talks with Japan over a possible partnership to develop military technologies. The talks in Kiev between Ukraine’s first deputy minister of defence Ivan Rusnak and Ro Manabe, Japan’s vice minister of defence for international affairs, could pave the way for a bilateral programme, although there would inevitably be political challenges to such cooperation.

In addition, military ties have been strengthened between Ukraine and Poland following talks in August to cooperate on army training and exercises as well as joint defence industry projects. The discussions also included the establishment of a multinational brigade consisting of Polish, Lithuanian and Ukrainian units.

President Poroshenko said earlier this year that next year’s Russian presidential election bolsters the need for the Ukrainian army to enhance its military capabilities.

"The non-alternative elections in Russia next year is another argument for enhancing the defensive capacities of the armed forces of Ukraine,” he said.

The programme of armed and technical modernisation of its armed forced is a part of this enhancement process,” he said at a meeting of leaders of the country’s armed forces in February.

Interest in the Ukraine defence market? Sign up for a free membership to Defence IQ today for more analysis, reports, insight and commercial opportunities in the defence industry.