Support: Ukraine Strikes Back

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May 22, 2018: The war between Ukraine and Russia has had some beneficial side effects for operators of Russian military equipment, particularly India. That is because during the Cold War Ukraine was a major manufacturer of Russian military equipment; including armored vehicles, transport aircraft and engines for helicopters, transports and commercial jets. The agreement that dissolved the Soviet Union gave ownership of industrial facilities, including military ones, to the 14 new nations. But since Ukraine and Russia still depended on each other for some components there were agreements that enabled Russia to enforce lucrative maintenance and upgrade agreements with aircraft and armor vehicle export customers that certain upgrade services or spare parts could only be obtained from Russia at whatever prices the Russians demanded. Russia kept raising the prices and many export customers were not pleased. After Russia attacked Ukraine in 2014 the state of war between Russia and Ukraine changed many agreements. Ukraine felt free to go after the lucrative upgrades and spare parts markets for exported Russian aircraft, armored vehicles and even ships. Ukraine could also maintain and upgrade military electronics and since 2015 has been doing so more aggressively and successfully.

Even before the Cold War ended the two major customers for Russian military exports were China and India and exports to these two countries peaked in the 1990s. After that China depended more on locally built versions of Russian equipment (under license or not). India has not developed the manufacturing capabilities China has but both India and China found Ukraine had military manufacturing and maintenance skills that were equal to the Russians and often better and always cheaper.

As a result of all this is Russia losing billions of dollars in upgrade, spare parts and new equipment sales income to Ukraine. While India is slowly switching to Western weapons suppliers it still has a lot of Russian aircraft and vehicles in need of spare parts (especially engines) and upgrades. Ukraine can supply lots of these needs and since 2014 is immune to Russian complaints. Given that India is still the largest buyer of Russian military exports, India can ignore Russian complaints about Ukrainian competition. In addition, China and Ukraine have become partners in developing new versions of Russian designed (but always Ukrainian built) aircraft and maritime engines. This collaboration with China also gives Ukraine a valuable ally (in addition to NATO countries) against increased Russian aggression.

 


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