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Development of Ukraine's defense infrastructure to support needs of reducing Western aid

Development of Ukraine's defense infrastructure to support needs of reducing Western aid The development of Ukraine's defense infrastructure will support the needs of reducing Western aid (photo: Vitalii Nosach, RBC-Ukraine)

The development of Ukraine's defense industry will support its needs and reduce dependence on Western aid. However, Russia is actively trying to hinder this, according to a report by ISW.

In Ukraine, officials have expressed their intention to expand the defence-industrial base inside the country and abroad since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion. Defense Minister Rustem Umerov previously identified increasing domestic production of weapons and military equipment in Ukraine as a priority for 2024.

"The short- and medium-term provision of Western air defences to Ukraine will be a critical element of Ukraine’s ability to stand up its defence industry, which will, in turn, decrease Ukrainian dependence on Western aid and especially US aid to Ukraine in the long term," said US State Department representative Matthew Miller.

According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the country cannot compensate for the lack of a sufficient number of air defence systems.

"Only Western-provided air defence systems, namely Patriot systems, allow Ukraine to defend Ukraine against the intensified Russia strike campaign," Zelenskyy said.

ISW continues to assess that with the development of its defence capabilities, the US will not need to send large security assistance packages to Ukraine indefinitely. However, the provision of Western air defence systems and missiles to Ukraine is crucial for its ability to protect its energy infrastructure and emerging defence industry from Russian strikes.

In turn, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has acknowledged that the objective of strikes on Ukrainian energy facilities is partially aimed at destroying the Ukrainian defence industry, confirming ISW's current assessment that Russian strikes on Ukrainian energy facilities are aimed at reducing Ukraine's defence-industrial potential.

The dictator stated that Russian drone and missile strikes on Ukraine's energy sector are related to Russia's goal of demilitarizing Ukraine, one of its three stated objectives in Ukraine.

He characterized Russia's ongoing strikes on Ukraine's energy infrastructure as a forced response to recent Ukrainian drone strikes on Russian oil and gas facilities. He openly stated that Russian strikes are also aimed at reducing Ukraine's defense-industrial potential.

ISW believes that the recent Russian strike campaign undermines Ukraine's electricity production capabilities. The reports of a shortage of Ukrainian air defence missiles are being used in new efforts to disrupt Ukraine's energy system.

Putin likely hopes to hinder Ukraine's defence industry development to a level close to self-sufficiency in the long term, as a strong defence industry could put Ukraine in a good position to defend against future Russian aggression and significantly reduce Ukraine's dependence on Western aid.

Significant delays in receiving Western aid, partly due to successful Russian information operations and Western indecision, have created opportunities for Russian offensive operations and the ongoing Russian strike campaign.