MOSCOW — Russian defense industry firms are resorting to dirty tactics to outcompete their Ukrainian counterparts on the international arms market, Sergii Siliusarenko, CEO of Ukrinmash, a state owned defense investment and export company in Ukraine, said Friday.
His remarks came after his firm secured a tender for a helicopter repair facility in Bangladesh, winning over a Russian bid.
“The Russian side has recently been resorting to tactics of, for instance, bombarding potential customers with letters demanding to exclude Ukrainian enterprises from tenders,” Siliusarenko was quoted as saying in the statement, which was published by the Ukrainian arms export agency Ukroboronprom. “Allegedly, only Russia has the right to repair or modernize Soviet equipment.”
Siliusarenko’s remarks came with an announcement that Bangladesh had chosen his firm in a tender to build a repair facility for that nation’s Soviet-built Mi-8/Mi-1 helicopters. During the Soviet-era, Ukraine was a major defense industrial center. Refurbishment of Soviet-built hardware sold to third-parties around the world is a major business for both Ukrainian and Russian firms.
Competition between the two for such contracts is understandably strong. But against the backdrop of conflict between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea and eastern Ukraine, relations between the two nations have never been worse. And Siliusarenko says that Russia is playing dirty on the market, attempting to “blackmail” potential customers into buying Russian over Ukrainian services.
“This causes damage to our economic interests,” he said. “Repair of aviation equipment — both helicopters and aircrafts — constitutes a significant part of income for Ukraine. That is why Ukraine should apply a consolidated approach... in order to prove that such Russian actions and demands are unjustified.”
The Bangladesh contract, however, was a boon to the Ukrainian defense industry, the Ukroboronprom statement said. An unattributed quote in the statement boasted that the contract “strengthened [Ukraine’s] positions and expanded possibilities for repairing military equipment of Soviet production on the markets of third countries.”