DFNC1: first International Defense Industries Forum

(To Renato Caputo*)

On September 29, Kyiv hosted the first International Defense Industries Forum (DFNC1), which brought together 252 companies from more than 30 countries producing a full range of weapons, military equipment and defense systems. The forum was jointly organized by three Ukrainian ministries: the Ministry of Strategic Industries, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

An event of this magnitude took place in Ukraine for the first time. The event was attended by manufacturers of tanks, artillery, drones, ammunition, innovative software developers and owners of unique complex technologies from partner countries. In addition, Ukrainian state and private enterprises of the defense-industrial complex, both large industrial groups and start-ups in the field of defense technology, took part.

DFNC1's key slogan is "building the arsenal of the free world together, because freedom needs strength to defend itself from tyranny."

The International Defense Industries Forum was opened by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The head of state noted that, precisely in Ukraine, the most powerful industrial and defense complexes, their priorities and defense standards in the world will be determined for decades.

The guests were addressed by the head of the office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, Minister of Defense Rustem Umyerov, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba and Minister of Strategic Industries Oleksandr Kamyshin. 

The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, the Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg and representatives of the partner countries intervened with their own video messages. Eric Schmidt, founder of Schmidt Futures, gave his own speech.

Honorary speakers at the Forum were Slovakia's Defense Minister Martin Sklenar and NATO Deputy Secretary General Wendy Gilmore.

In their speeches, Ukrainian officials expressed gratitude to partners for their support for Ukraine and confidence in the great new opportunities opened up by the Forum. In particular, in the production of a sufficient number of weapons to meet all the security needs of Ukraine and its partners.

Ukraine has the necessary foundations to build a powerful defense-industrial complex. Ukrainian enterprises are already producing artillery ammunition and cartridges, artillery systems of the NATO 155mm caliber, as well as unique automated systems: naval drones, long-range UAVs, missiles, anti-tank systems, which are actually used at the front. The development rate of Ukrainian production and Ukrainian technologies is constantly increasing.

The defense industry is one of the key components of the development of the Ukrainian economy. 

As part of the Forum, the Ukrainian side signed 20 documents with foreign partners. These are agreements and memoranda on the production of drones, repair and production of armored vehicles and ammunition. Cooperation agreements include joint production, technology exchange, component supply. Defense cooperation with Ukraine is an equal partnership that strengthens all parties.

Localization of production in Ukraine will make it possible to attract a wide range of technologies, ideas, solutions and receive weapons tested in real combat conditions.

During the International Defense Industries Forum, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced a series of new initiatives to strengthen defense cooperation. Therefore, in order to increase the investment attractiveness of the Ukrainian defense industry, a special economic regime for the industry will be introduced. Its development is entrusted to the Ministry of Strategic Industries, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Economy. The detailed plan will be presented by the end of the year.

A special Defense Fund will also be created, which will be managed by the Ministry of Defense. It will also be replenished with profits from the sale of confiscated assets of the Russian Federation. The funds will be distributed across three areas: soldier welfare, military infrastructure and development of new technologies. This will allow the Ministry of Defense to use an additional source of funding, in addition to the state budget and private investments.

An important moment of the forum was the creation of the Defense Industries Alliance, to which all manufacturers of weapons and military equipment from different countries of the world can join. By the time the Forum closed, 38 companies from 19 countries had already joined. 

Furthermore, bilateral and multilateral meetings of the state leadership with representatives of Ukraine's partner countries and foreign defense companies took place within the framework of the Forum.

* He is currently a university professor of “International Law and Security Regulations (IUS/13)” and is a member of the Advisory Board of the European Intelligence Academy in Athens (Greece). From June 2014 to July 2017 he worked as a State Official with diplomatic accreditation in Uzbekistan. In the XNUMXth legislature he was part of the Cabinet Office of the Minister of Defense.