Judging by the results of President Putin’s visit to Ukraine February 11-12, Moscow and Kiev are set to actively work together in the military-industrial sphere. The visit was held under rather complicated circumstances for Leonid Kuchma: the opposition organized a series of demonstrations throughout the country demanding that he be dismissed. The meeting took place against the background of disputes concerning Moscow’s possible activities in response to the decision by the US administration to deploy a national anti-missile system. It was supposed that Putin’s visit to the Yuzhmash plant which, before the break-up of the USSR produced powerful intercontinental ballistic missiles meant that the plant would resume producing military missiles. However, Russia and Ukraine have denied such conjectures.
When answering the question of Ukrainian journalists concerning the possibility of producing intercontinental ballistic missiles in cooperation with Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin said that would never happen. He stated: “Ukraine is a nuclear-free country and we respect that status. There is no need to encroach on this state of affairs. All our plans are aimed at becoming competitive on the market for such services. The market is huge.”
Yury Alexeev, General Director of the Yuzhmash plant, made a very interesting statement. He confirmed the Russian president’s statement and noted that military production on Yuzhmash is out of the question because the plant does not have the production facilities or the legal basis to do that. However, he added that SS-18 and SS-24 missiles produced in Dnepropetrovsk are used by the Russian Strategic Missile Force and specialists of Yuzhmash assist in “keeping them fit”.
The Russian president expanded on Alexeev’s statement when speaking at the ceremony dedicated to signing Russian-Ukrainian documents. He stated that Yuzhmash, at which negotiations were held, has 75 partners in the Russian Federation. He noted that certain Ukrainian enterprises are 60% to 80% equipped with Russian products. The president said: “Development of such links is a vital concern of Russia and Ukraine.” It is natural that cooperation links include links in the military missile-technical sector.
In other words, Ukraine de-facto supports Russia’s missile programs, despite statements denying the possibility of producing missile hardware for Moscow.
In addition, missile production is a duel purpose branch. This means that Ukraine strengthens Russia’s defense by assisting in creating Russian missiles.
The fact that there were no representatives of the military in the Russian delegation emphasized the civilian nature of the negotiations. The Russian delegation consisted of Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov (he is responsible for the military-industrial sector), Yury Koptev (President of the Russian Airspace Agency), Zinovy Pak (Director-General of the Russian Agency for Ammunition), and Vladimir Pospelov (Director-General of the Russian Agency for Shipbuilding). Only Anatoly Chubais, President of RAO-EES Rossii, can be called a relatively non-defense Russian official.
It should be noted that during negotiations Presidents Kuchma and Putin signed a joint statement on cooperation in the aircraft and space sectors. This means a further development of the Dnepr program aimed at using RS-20 missiles as space rockets. In addition, Ukraine and Russia will continue the Sea Launch program. A consortium of the same name was established in 1995 for realizing this project. The consortium united Boeing (the US), Energia (Russia), the Yuzhnoye design bureau (Ukraine), Yuzhmash, and Kverner (Norway).
According to Yury Koptev the document provides for a joint use of the conversion type of the SS-18 missile. In addition the document has announced priorities in Russian-Ukrainian cooperation: exploration of the ocean and earth surface from the space, ecological monitoring, prevention of natural and man-caused emergencies, joint scientific research and technological experiments on the Russian segment of the international space station. In addition, it is supposed to research son-earth links, the moon, deep space, and to continue the creation of the international space research center in Yevpatoria (the Crimea).
Russia and Ukraine will coordinate their activities in promoting space services. It is planned to expand the sphere of application of the Zenith, Cyclon, and Dnepr rockets. Ukraine and Russia will cooperate in developing the infrastructure of the Baikonur space center and support the Sea Launch project.
The parties intend to start realizing a set of measures aimed at developing mutually beneficial production, technological, and scientific cooperation in space and aircraft industries, which, according to Moscow and Kiev, is to guarantee high quality and competitiveness of this hardware on the international market. Ukraine and Russia have decided to use space technologies for producing high-technology socio-economic products at space industry enterprises. In particular, it is planned to organize an international exhibition Space technologies for people in Kiev in September 2001.
Russia and Ukraine have agreed to satisfy each other’s needs in aircraft hardware, to realize the possibility of creating and promoting promising planes and technologies, to support the An-70 program “as the most prospective and priority-driven project in the cooperation program between Russia and Ukraine in the aircraft building sector”.
All these measures are connected with defense industry and conversion. Almost all aircraft building programs are military projects. The parties stated in Dnepropetrovsk that the Russian-Ukrainian intergovernmental negotiations concerning the prospects of a further realization of the An-70 program will take place in late March.
According to experts, the An-70 military-transport plane has been created according to a technical task given by the Russian and Ukrainian Defense Ministries. According to the decree signed by the Ukrainian government on organizing serial production of the An-70 plane the Avant aircraft building plant (Ukraine) is to build 65 such planes from 2002 to 2018. The Russian government signed a decree on building 164 An-70 planes.
According to the agreements signed by the Russian and Ukrainian leaderships it is planned to upgrade MiG-29 and Su-25 fighters in order to increase their combat potential and range. In addition it is possible that India will buy the Russian-Ukrainian An-38 plane designed for local airlines. In this regard Moscow and Kiev are preparing for a joint marketing of this plane. The cost of the An-38 plane is from $4 to $4.2 million. Moscow stated that it is planned to sign an agreement on a mutual acknowledgement of the state standards between Russian and India within the framework of Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov’s February visit to India. This agreement will open the path to the Indian market. The Indian Air Force is interested in An-38D-100 plane, a transport plane designed for carrying paratroopers.
The Russian shipbuilding agency stated that in 2001 Ukraine will supply the Russian shipbuilding industry with its products for several billion rubles. The matter concerns gas turbine engines for Talvar frigates created by the Baltic plant for the Indian Navy, and Zubr air-cushioned landing vehicles which the Almaz shipbuilding plant builds for the Greek Navy.
In addition, the Russian Agency for Ammunition and the Ukrainian state committee for industrial policy have signed a memorandum on preserving the specialization of plants and enterprises which participate in producing conversion products using double purpose technologies, a program on cooperation between Rosboepripasy defense enterprises and the Ukrainian state committee for industrial policy, an agreement on cooperation between the Ukrainian state committee for industrial policy and the Russian Shipbuilding Agency, a memorandum on developing electronic hardware between the Russian agency for control systems and the Ukrainian state committee for industrial policy, and a series of other conversion-defense documents. In other words the meeting of the Russian and Ukrainian presidents has turned to be “positive and fruitful”. According to Vladimir Putin “we have very important moves on the path of further harmonization of the Russian-Ukrainian production links”. In addition Mr. Putin noted that the countries have taken important measures for promoting their products and services. For instance, cooperation in the airspace sector is to bring $6 billion to Russia and Ukraine. The Russian president noted: “There are some other ideas concerning this theme.” The president noted, in particular, that every rocket launched by Sea Launch makes a profit $200 million worth.
All this is conversion projects. However, it should not been forgotten that Russia and Ukraine use duel-purpose technologies. This means that they are also strengthening their defense potential.