By: Micaela Burrow, Daily Caller News Foundation
Ukraine will work with American defense companies to co-produce weapons for the fight against Russia’s invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced Friday as he closed out a visit to Washington.
Zelenskyy stopped at the White House, the Pentagon and Congress on Thursday, making his appeal to the U.S. government for continued security assistance as opposition in Congress to funding Ukraine’s defense appears to strengthen. In a daily address to Ukrainians posted on the presidential website Friday morning, Zelenskyy made the case the weapons deal agreed to on that trip would boost Ukraine’s air defense capabilities and create jobs for both Americans and Ukrainians.
“It was a very important visit to Washington, very important results,” Zelenskyy said.
“And a long-term agreement — we will work together so that Ukraine produces the necessary weapons together with the United States. Co-production in the defense (sector) with the United States is a historic thing,” he said.
Zelenskyy thanked Congress for sustained support and underscored the importance of transparency, words likely aimed at anti-intervention Republicans skeptical of U.S. support for Ukraine, many of the same who threaten to derail passing a budget over concerns America is spending too much.
“There were clear, straightforward questions from members of the House of Representatives and senators. There were straightforward answers,” he said.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy pressed Zelenskyy in a private meeting over the potential trajectories the war could take and whether Ukraine’s military was using U.S.-provided weapons responsibly, The Washington Post reported, citing people familiar with the meeting.
Zelenskyy also hinted at “important agreements” reached during his visit to the Pentagon.
The Biden administration announced $325 million in new weapons for Ukraine on Thursday. Noticeably absent in the package were Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), long-range missiles capable of hitting behind Russian lines and possibly into Russia itself.
The Biden administration has placed ATACMS on the table for Ukraine since early in the spring but has not approved the weapons.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Strategic Industries, which manages domestic arms production, inked cooperation agreements with three industry associations on Thursday, Zelenskyy said. About 2,000 weapons and technology firms in those associations are American.
“We are engaging them to work in Ukraine. We have a memorandum on energy cooperation,” he said.
Ukraine has invested heavily in its own defense industry as the war, now in its 19th month, has created demand for massive quantities of weapons, ammunition and support equipment, according to Reuters. Air defense in particular has become a priority due to Russian air strikes in cities across Ukraine that kill civilians and damage buildings.
Kyiv plans to host a global arms industry forum with representatives from over 20 countries to solicit further investment, Reuters reported. In addition, it’s working with Ukraine’s primary weapons firm, Ukroboronprom, to improve transparency and make it easier to cooperate with U.S. industry.
The State Department, Department of Defense and White house did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.