Ukraine offers itself as test site for Western weapons
Ukraine has invited foreign arms manufacturers to use it as a location to try out new weapons in battlefield conditions, Defense Minister Alexey Reznikov said on Tuesday.
In an interview with the Atlantic Council, a US-based pro-NATO lobby group partly funded by the industry, Reznikov said that Ukraine can already be considered “essentially a testing ground.”
“Many weapons are now getting tested in the field, in the real conditions of the battle against the Russian army, which has plenty of the modern systems of its own,” he explained.
Stressing that Ukraine is a trusted partner and needs all sorts of weapons, Reznikov revealed that the government is interested in building up the country’s “testing ground” potential.
“We are sharing all the information and experience with our partners. We are interested in testing modern systems in the fight against the enemy and we are inviting the arms manufacturers to test their new products here,” the defense minister said.
He added that his offer could provide “a good chance” for Poland, the US, France, Germany, and other countries “to test [their] equipment.”
“Give us the tools, we will finish the job and you will have new information,” Reznikov said.
Extending his gratitude to the US and its allies for the ongoing weapons supplies, the minister stressed that in order to successfully fight the Russian forces and especially to conduct a counterattack, Ukraine needs more arms, “fast and in sufficient quantities.”
He specified that before all else, Kiev needs air and rocket defense systems, long-range weapons, anti-ship missiles, aviation, tanks, and armored vehicles.
Reznikov also hailed the US-provided High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and added that “for an effective counteroffensive,” Ukraine would need at least 100.
As of July 8, the US has provided 12 HIMARS systems to Ukraine. The White House revealed on Tuesday that a new package of military aid to be announced this week will include more of these weapons systems.
Moscow has consistently warned Western countries against providing Ukraine with weapons, saying that it would not prevent Russian forces from achieving all the goals of the military operation, but would lead to prolongations of the conflict and to unnecessary casualties. Russia also made it clear that any foreign arms on Ukrainian territory would be considered legitimate targets.
Earlier this month, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that the country’s forces had destroyed two HIMARS launchers in Donbass.
The Russian military also claims that some of the weapons sent by the West to Ukraine “are spreading throughout the Middle East region, and also end up on the black market.”
Kiev describes such allegations as “propaganda.”