Ukraine has signed contracts for joint cooperation on technology weapons production with Western partners in its effort to boost its defense industry at home and to reduce its dependence on military supplies from the West.
Defense Minister Rustem Umerov announced on Facebook that there are multiple new agreements between companies for collaborating on production or sharing technology.
Increasing production domestically has become crucially important due to uncertainty surrounding future military aid from the United States and European Union, as well as depleted stockpiles in the Western world.
Kyiv has hosted a number of conferences with members of the international defense industry. This week it held a conference with the largest British defense manufacturers, while last September it hosted more than 250 Western weapons producers, followed by a joint Ukraine-U.S. defense conference in Washington in December.
Umerov stated that we have entered into a memorandum with the United States for the purpose of collaborating on production and sharing technical data.
Ukraine is also looking for additional partnerships similar to its collaboration with German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall AG to maintain and fix Western weapons. They have also entered into an agreement with two American companies to co-produce essential 155 mm artillery shells.
The strategic industries ministry reports that domestic defense production has tripled in 2023 and is projected to grow six times in 2024.
On Friday, Hungary prevented the European Union from providing financial assistance to Ukraine, while on Thursday the EU decided to start discussions about potential membership with the struggling country.
The financial aid package of $54 billion needed to combat the Russian invasion in Ukraine was approved by 26 out of 27 EU countries, despite the veto from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. European Council President Charles Michel made the announcement.
Michel stated that Sweden is required to seek approval from its parliament regarding the aid package, which is a standard protocol for the country.
Michel stated that the EU will make an effort to achieve unanimous agreement regarding the budget for Ukraine in the beginning of next year.
Although Hungary’s leader has hindered progress in negotiations with Ukraine, Michel stated, “This is a significant moment, a significant European Council.”
For weeks, Orban had declared his opposition towards Ukraine’s EU membership and vowed to veto the decision.
Ultimately, he opted not to exercise his veto power regarding Ukraine’s potential membership in the EU. Instead, it was reported that he exited the room during the voting process in Brussels, allowing the remaining 26 member countries to come to a unanimous decision.
The Belgian Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo, stated that Orban did not use his veto because he recognized that it would be unjustifiable.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declared that the EU membership negotiations are a triumph for Ukraine and all of Europe.
Russia responded to the EU’s choice to initiate discussions for Ukraine and Moldova’s membership by criticizing it as a politicized move that could disrupt the bloc. Additionally, they commended Hungary for voicing their opposition to the talks.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin, stated to reporters that the EU has consistently maintained strict standards for admission. Currently, it is evident that neither Ukraine nor Moldova fulfills these requirements.
Peskov stated that the addition of new members could create instability within the EU. He also mentioned that, as we are located on the same continent as the EU, we are closely monitoring the situation.
Zelenskyy’s success in the EU was achieved following his recent journey to Washington, during which he was unable to persuade U.S. legislators to provide extra financial support for Ukraine’s battle against Russia.
Republican lawmakers are pushing for any additional funding for Ukraine to be contingent upon measures to improve border security with Mexico, despite the U.S. already providing over $100 billion to Ukraine.
In his daily speech, Zelenskyy stated that the Nordic countries have committed to providing aid packages totaling over $1.4 billion.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry’s statement on Telegram, 26 Ukrainian drones were destroyed by anti-aircraft units over the Crimean Peninsula on Friday.
The ministry released a statement stating that the interceptions occurred between 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. (1730-1930 GMT).
According to a report on Telegram by Vladimir Saldo, the governor appointed by Russia to oversee part of the southern Kherson region, separate Russian anti-aircraft units successfully shot down a minimum of 15 aerial targets near Henichesk.
There were no immediate reports of harm or injuries in either case.
On Friday, during a meeting in western Ukraine, a member of the village council set off three hand grenades, causing serious injuries to himself and approximately twenty-four others, according to officials.
A man was recorded on social media entering a room where the village council of Keretsky convened to discuss and approve the community’s budget.
The man, who was preliminarily identified as Serhii Batryn, a council member who belongs to Zelenskyy’s Servant of the People party, took three grenades from his pockets, removed the pins and threw the weapons on the floor in front of him.
Police in the Transcarpathian region reported that 26 individuals sustained injuries, with six of them in critical condition, according to an official statement. The individual responsible for detonating the grenades also suffered severe injuries and emergency medical personnel were working to save their life, as stated by police.
The reason for the attack and its possible connection to the war in Ukraine are still unclear.
The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, and Reuters provided some of the information in this report.