Ukrainian arms exporters are actively regaining lost ground in global markets. And this is something that’s hard not to notice. After all, recently, from declarations of intent, negotiations, and signing of memoranda, things have moved to the plane of practical implementation of the agreements reached. As, for example, in the case of the contract for the repair of T-80UD tanks, which Ukrspecexport signed this March with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Recently, Ukrspecexport secured a 30% advance payment from the Pakistani party under the said contract, amounting to a total of $85.6 million. These funds will soon be transferred to the Malyshev Plant and other companies involved in the implementation of the Pakistan contract. Production routine at the plant, which has been almost idle in recent years, lacking orders, is now gaining momentum, so the company's management can be more confident in further palling their production process, while the workforce can count on a decent wage.
But the main thing, in my opinion, is that the increase in the dynamics of defense partnership between Ukraine and Pakistan after many years of calm has yielded first significant results. It's not just about this new contract. In fact, this year, in the interests of Ukrainian manufacturers, Ukrspecexport confidently won at least 10 more tenders and signed off deals totaling more than $140 million. And this work continues! It’s important not only to conclude, but also to ensure the implementation of the said contracts. This includes rhythmic financing of production, timely delivery, and technical support on the customer's soil.
It’s worth noting that it was at this time last year that the media space was infused with publications by often low-profile authors claiming Ukraine’s alleged "failure in Pakistan", the "loss of the strategic arms market," and other such pessimistic narratives. However, we’ve been proving – not by words but by deeds – that Ukraine has no intention to lose ground in strategic markets. Also, the "effective managers" who were in office during the ousted president Viktor Yanukovych's rule and remained in the industry up until 2019, were finally squeezed out of the government relations system, where they had been trying to build up their own business, sometimes working part-time for the benefit of Ukraine’s rivals.
Returning to the current state of affairs, I must say that military-technical cooperation between Ukraine and Pakistan over the past year and a half has really gained new momentum. Behind this success stands systemic and painstaking work which may not be immediately apparent. However, in 2020 alone, Pakistani delegations paid 17 working visits to Ukraine, where they had the opportunity to clearly see readiness of the country’s defense companies to fulfill ongoing and future contracts. In turn, Ukrspecexport experts last year made ten working trips to Pakistan.
Another confirmation of the deepening of relations between Ukraine and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in the field of military-technical cooperation was the International Arms Exhibit IDEX-2021, where, in fact, a nearly 86 million contract for tanks repair was inked.
The remaining doubts that Pakistan once again treats Ukraine as a reliable strategic partner were dispelled by the visit to our country in May this year by the Commander-in-Chief of the IRP Army, General Qamar Javed Bajwa. This is the first time in the history of Ukrainian-Pakistani relations that such a high-level visit has taken place. Its outcome has confirmed that Pakistan, as a country developing a program of high-precision and tank weapons, boasting of significant military-industrial ambitions, is truly interested in cooperation with Ukraine.
By the way, the Kremlin was outraged with the news, launching a powerful media campaign in the framework of their hybrid war against Ukraine, aimed at compromising the country and portraying it as an unreliable partner in the field of military-technical cooperation. On the eve of General Bajwa's visit to Kyiv, the Russian media – and, surprisingly some Ukrainian ones – span a series of manipulative and propagandistic reports on the alleged failure of the flagship of Ukraine's tank industry, the Malyshev Kharkiv Plant, in fulfilling the order of its Pakistani partners.
And as soon as the reports came that an advance payment had arrived in Ukraine from Pakistan, a new wave of media dirt was launched from Moscow. The monitoring of the information space showed that within a single day, the flow of distorted and manipulative information about the actual state of affairs at the Malyshev Plant was picked up by a dozen fringe news sites and bot networks.
So, this is how the Russians, through their elaborate psy-ops, try to hinder the efforts of both Ukrainian arms manufacturers and special exporters. However, on the other hand, they prove that we are moving in the right direction, achieving significant results along the way. In general, in the armored sector of military-technical cooperation alone, the volume of export contracts has already increased several times. At the same time, new areas of cooperation with Pakistan’s Air Force and other customers from this country have been opened.
It should be added that another delegation of Pakistan’s army is expected to visit Ukraine in the near future, which will result in the signing of new contracts for the supply of the latest products of the Ukrainian defense industry. The leaders of the Pakistani defense industry intend to continue cooperation with Ukraine, deepen production cooperation, and purchase new weapons. This is our historic chance not to lose, but to increase, preserve, and develop our military-industrial potential.
Vadym Nozdria is Director General at State Company Ukrspecexport
* The views and opinions expressed in this op-ed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Ukrinform
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