“British defence executives are reportedly worried about being outperformed by German and French rivals
Senior British defence industry officials are discussing the possibility of manufacturing weapons and armoured vehicles in Ukraine under a local license, The Telegraph reported on Saturday. Some executives have already visited Kiev to explore options for setting up joint ventures, the newspaper wrote.
According to the report, British manufacturers are concerned that their French and German rivals could be the first to seal a deal with Kiev. One executive was quoted as describing the negotiations as a race to put London “at the front of the queue.” It was also said that such a licensing deal would likely require the approval of the British government.
The news comes as Ukraine’s Western supporters step up their military aid to Kiev amid its armed conflict with Russia. Britain pledged last month to deliver a squadron of Challenger 2 tanks for the first time.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who hosted Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky during his unannounced visit to the UK on Wednesday, instructed the Ministry of Defence to study the issue of supplying Kiev with fighter jets. “We take these decisions carefully and we do it thoughtfully. We are aware of potential escalatory risks,” Sunak’s spokesperson said this week.
Moscow has repeatedly warned that “flooding” Ukraine with foreign weapons would only lead to further escalation and that Western arms would be treated as legitimate targets. “These actions will not substantially change the outcome of the conflict,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday. He added that military aid to Kiev would only make the conflict “more painful for Ukraine.”
Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine nearly a year ago, citing the need to protect the people of Donbass and Kiev’s failure to implement the 2014-2015 Minsk peace accords.”