German arms company to help maintain weapons in Ukraine
German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall said Friday it will form a joint venture with Ukraine’s state weapons manufacturer to maintain military vehicles in Ukraine and later produce some equipment.
Ukraine’s allies have sent it a huge amount of military gear, including armored fighting vehicles and heavy battle tanks, to aid Kyiv in its fightback against Russia.
The first stage of the agreement between Rheinmetall and state manufacturer UkrOboronProm involves maintenance and repairing of vehicles transferred to Ukraine.
Later, they plan to jointly produce some of the German company’s equipment in Ukraine, said Rheinmetall.
Rheinmetall was seeking to assure “that help reaches Ukraine as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said CEO Armin Papperger.
The company did not give further details, but financial daily Handelsblatt reported preparations were being made for tanks to be built in Ukraine.
In an interview in March, Papperger said the company was holding talks to build a tank factory in Ukraine.
The companies have signed an initial agreement, and the joint venture — subject to official approval — is expected to be operational from mid-July.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Germany has dropped a traditionally pacifist stance and become one of Ukraine’s biggest military backers, delivering a wide array of weaponry to Kyiv.
After coming under sustained pressure earlier this year, Chancellor Olaf Scholz agreed that German-made Leopard battle tanks could be sent to Ukraine.
Berlin has since delivered some of its own Leopard tanks to Kyiv.
Rheinmetall has received a boost from the Ukraine war, posting record results last year and joining Frankfurt’s blue-chip DAX index in March.
Its shares rose about three percent on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange after the announcement of the tie-up with UkrOboronProm.