Britain has secured a deal with Ukraine to produce military vessels for £1.25 billion ($1.61 billion), in a “historic agreement” signaling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s determination to improve his country’s navy.
The president arrived in England on Wednesday and is scheduled to hold talks with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, after which they will sign a “Ukrainian-British Agreement on Political Cooperation, Free Trade and Strategic Partnership.” In the afternoon, Zelensky and his wife, Olena, met with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Catherine.
According to reports, the agreement will include the production of eight Barzan-class fast attack missile boats. These vessels were first produced in the 1990s, designed and built specifically for the Qatari Navy by Vosper Thornycroft, a shipbuilder based in the port city of Southampton. Two months ago, during a visit by British defense secretary Ben Wallace to Ukraine, the UK pledged “even closer collaboration” between the two nations, and this new deal appears to be another step forward in the relationship.
The bilateral “important strategic document” between London and Kiev will be signed at a Naval base, Zelensky revealed.
The two large European countries lie outside the European Union, but both pursue a pro-American foreign policy. Ukraine is the continent’s poorest state, per capita, but Britain is its third largest economy overall, behind Russia and Germany, according to IMF GDP estimates, adjusted for purchasing power parity.
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News about a potential deal between the UK and Ukraine first appeared on the Ukrainian Military Portal in September, when it was reported that the UK would lend Kiev money to purchase eight missile boats. According to the portal, two will be built in the UK, and the rest at a shipyard in Ukraine.
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The deal between the two countries provides a much-needed boost for the Ukrainian Navy, which lost a significant part of its capability following Russia’s 2014 re-absorption of Crimea. With the loss of the Crimean port of Sevastopol, Kiev lost most of its naval infrastructure, as well as a large chunk of its personnel, many of whom defected to Russia.
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