Zelensky opens forum in bid to attract arms makers

In an effort to entice additional manufacturers to produce weapons in Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hosted Kyiv’s inaugural International Defence Industries Forum on Tuesday.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Kyiv has relied largely on Western funding, but it is now trying to strengthen its domestic defense sector out of concern that its partners’ support may wane.

“Our first task is to win this war and return a lasting and, most importantly, reliable peace to our people. We will accomplish this task through our cooperation with you,” Zelensky said in a speech at the opening on Friday.

“We are interested in localising the production of equipment necessary for our defence… and advanced defence systems used by our soldiers that give Ukraine the best results at the front today,” he said.

Officials from over 30 countries and 250 defence firms were gathered for the forum, which comes as Zelensky lobbies the West for more arms to wage a counteroffensive against Russia.

Kyiv launched its push back to regain occupied territory in June but has acknowledged slow progress as its troops encounter lines of heavily fortified Russian defences.

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