Ukraine cannot regain its position on the global arms market in the past. In 2008-2012, our country ranked ninth, now we have already slipped to 12th place and we have every chance to leave the second twenty soon. Against this background, China continues to confidently strengthen its position, squeezing Ukraine even in the country's traditional sales markets, Russia does not give up its positions in the top three. Ukraine's current failures in the global arms trade are due to the fact that the legacy of Soviet weapons, which the country used in the past, has long since dried up: you have to go out of your way to sell new developments, but it's not so easy.
Ukrspetsexport, a Ukrainian state-owned arms trading company and part of the state conglomerate Ukrainian Defense Industry, is pessimistic about the future: restrictions on movement in connection with Covid-19, the lack of opportunities to visit individual countries, invite partners to Ukraine will further hinder the development of military-technical cooperation. By the end of the year, Ukraine will reach the level of sales in 2018, when it sold weapons worth $ 250 million, assures the new head of the Ukrspetsexport unit responsible for the export of Ukrainian weapons, Vadym Nozdrya. According to him, this is much better than last year's indicators, which are considered to be the bottom - the volume of trade amounted to only $ 173 million. It is worth saying that even if such volumes of arms sales can be achieved, they will still be incomparably less than in successful years: in 2012, for example, Ukraine sold weapons worth $ 1.34 billion, which made it fourth in the world ranking of arms exporters.
The successes of the past years are explained by the presence of stocks of Soviet weapons, which other countries were willingly buying. "Until 2014, Ukraine was selling everything that remained in warehouses since Soviet times: armored vehicles, aviation, and artillery. And it would be one thing if this money, at least part of it, were spent on maintaining the military-industrial complex and the Armed Forces of Ukraine, but this, of course, did not happen," retired lieutenant general, candidate of military sciences, doctor of technical sciences, professor Ihor Romanenko told.
In recent years, about a third of the proceeds from sales of weapons in Ukraine have been accounted for by sales of armored vehicles. Not less than 16% are aircraft repair products: we are talking about extending the service life of Antonov's products, which has not been producing new aircraft for many years, as well as helicopters and engines from MotorSich and Ivchenko-Progress. Another 20% of exported equipment were naval weapons.
After the stocks of Soviet weapons dried up, Ukraine began to lose ground, losing the competition to Russia and China. In particular, China not so long ago managed to win another significant victory, having won a tender for the supply of armored vehicles to Pakistan, which since 1996 has been considered Ukraine's traditional partner in the field of military-technical cooperation. Former head of state of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf publicly called Ukrainian tanks the best in the world. Recently, however, an $ 860 million contract for 176 VT-4 main battle tanks was signed with the Chinese corporation Norinco. The country decided to purchase 236 155-mm wheeled self-propelled guns SH-15 from the same corporation for the needs of its army. Pakistan is buying from Russia a batch of Russian Mi-171 helicopters assembled by the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant. The cost of the contract reaches $ 40 million. 18 people work from Russia in the service of the military attaché in Pakistan, and only one from Ukraine, Vadym Nozdrya explained at a briefing the reasons for the latest failures in Pakistan.
In fact, everything is much more complicated than the number or level of professionalism of the country's representatives, experts say. “It is very difficult to successfully sell abroad types of weapons that are not in service in our own Armed Forces,” says Romanenko, noting that due to scarce funding in 2000-2014. new types of weapons were supplied to the Ukrainian Armed Forces only in single copies, there was no question of any serial order.
Before Poroshenko came to power, 1% of GDP was allocated to finance the Armed Forces of Ukraine, under Poroshenko - 2.5%. At the same time, the requirement of the Law "On Defense" and the requirement of the National Security Strategy to allocate 3% of GDP were not met, despite the fact that there was a war. And 5%, which were allocated to the power structures, were divided equally between the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Security Service. And only in 2020, for the first time, more than 3% were allocated.
According to Romanenko, Russia has a significant advantage, in particular in aviation, armored vehicles, missiles, not to mention nuclear weapons, weapons for the Navy. "This is a more powerful state, you need to realistically assess and understand. They have a more powerful economy. For twenty years Putin has been rearming and modernizing the Armed Forces and has brought the composition of new types of weapons, types of weapons of the 21st century in the arsenal of the Russian Armed Forces from 60% to 90%. The Armed Forces of Ukraine have 10-15% of new types of weapons," the general told 112.ua.
Arms exporters, according to SIPRI, in 2019
What can we say if Ukraine prefers to buy weapons for its own army not from the domestic military-industrial complex, but abroad? As you know, the Ministry of Defense purchases Dana self-propelled artillery units (ACS) from the Czech company Excalibur Army for $ 40 million.
In general, it is premature to put an end to Ukraine as a global arms exporter, General Romanenko is sure. According to him, our country still has traditional capabilities in armored vehicles, armored personnel carriers, and anti-tank vehicles. This year, Ukraine has sold the S-125 Pechora missile system to Turkey, negotiations are continuing on the joint development and production of Bayraktar drones. Military experts see prospects for Ukrainian precision weapons and radar systems.
To achieve success, it is necessary to overcome the main obstacle - corruption, Romanenko emphasizes. For the military-industrial complex of Ukraine in recent years, it is corruption that has been the main scourge.