PARIS — Ukraine has a deal in place with the European Defence Agency that could be triggered to enable defense-cooperation projects with the bloc once the war with Russia ends, according to the agency’s chief executive, Jiří Šedivý.
Ukraine is one of a handful of nonmember states that have negotiated so-called administrative arrangements with the agency, an entry requirement into the bloc’s sprawling bureaucracy for jointly developing military capabilities. Dated December 2015, the deal was never used because of Ukraine’s interest in building its arsenal with a focus on quantity rather than new creations, Šedivý told Defense News.
“I can imagine that after the war, there will be interest also in industrial cooperation, and we can use the framework of the administrative arrangement for EDA,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of the Eurosatory defense exhibit in Paris this week.
To be sure, there are a lot of “ifs” wrapped up in such a scenario. There is no end game in sight for the fighting in Ukraine amid Russian politicians suggesting Moscow is still intent on entirely subjugating the country. The balance of firepower has recently shifted in favor of the invaders, who are grinding down a Ukrainian force desperately awaiting more heavy weapons than allies can deliver.
But Šedivý's comments — along with the prospect of Ukraine getting EU membership candidate status now gaining traction in Brussels — signal that European officials are at least envisioning concrete ways of pulling Kyiv closer to the union, including on defense matters.
Meanwhile, a similar administrative arrangement between the European Defense Agency and the U.S. government remains under negotiation. In particular, European concerns related to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations have yet to be sorted out, according to Šedivý.
The ITAR regime is Washington’s way of exerting influence over any aspect of military-grade equipment or knowledge generated with even the slightest level of U.S. participation. The regulations are guaranteed to come into play in virtually any defense cooperation project between the U.S. and the EU.
“We’ve had several rounds of discussions, including in Washington, and there is a very clear effort to reach an administrative arrangement as soon as it would be possible, and that’s probably all I can say at the present moment,” Šedivý said.
But he did note that negotiations are happening amid “very strong goodwill and very good atmospherics.”
Sebastian Sprenger is associate editor for Europe at Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, and on U.S.-Europe cooperation and multi-national investments in defense and global security. Previously he served as managing editor for Defense News. He is based in Cologne, Germany.