Procurement: China and the Ukrainian Connection


November8, 2006: While Russia has been a major supplier of modern weapons to China, especially since the end of the Cold War in 1991, another crucial, if not major, source has been Ukraine. China buys about $100 million worth of weapons from Ukraine each year, less than five percent of what it gets from Russia. But Ukraine supplies some vital technologies. That's because of the way the Soviet Union was dissolved. To keep things simple, when the Soviet Union was broken up into 14 countries, state owned facilities belonged to whatever new country they found themselves in. The Soviet Union spread defense plants around, and a number of vital ones ended up in Ukraine. So China buys Ukrainian jet engines, and power plants for its warships. Many spare parts for China's growing fleet of Su-27/30 warplanes also come from Ukraine. Russia also produces many of these items, but Ukraine is often the low bidder. Ukraine has also sold manufacturing technology to China, so that the Chinese can make their own weapons components.

In the last few years, however, Ukraine has become a less important supplier for China. That's because the election of a reform government in early 2005 removed a corrupt crew that was willing to sell China anything, especially if the right people got bribes. The reform government not only made those deals more difficult, but also wants Ukraine to join NATO. That will mean many restrictions on what weapons Ukraine can sell to China. So, for the moment, the Chinese are getting all the Ukrainian goodies they can.


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