PRAGUE/WARSAW, Nov 24 (Reuters) – Eastern Europe’s arms industry is churning out guns, artillery shells and other military supplies at a pace not seen since the Cold War as governments in the region lead efforts to aid Ukraine in its fight against Russia.
Allies have been supplying Kyiv with weapons and military equipment since Russia invaded its neighbour on Feb. 24, depleting their own inventories along the way.
The United States and Britain committed the most direct military aid to Ukraine between Jan. 24 and Oct. 3, a Kiel Institute for the World Economy tracker shows, with Poland in third place and the Czech Republic ninth.
Still wary of Russia, their Soviet-era master, some former Warsaw Pact countries see helping Ukraine as a matter of regional security.
But nearly a dozen government and company officials and analysts who spoke to Reuters said the conflict also presented new opportunities for the region’s arms industry.
“Taking into account the realities of the ongoing war in Ukraine and the visible attitude of many countries aimed at increased spending in the field of defence budgets, there is a real chance to enter new markets and increase export revenues in the coming years,” said Sebastian Chwalek, CEO of Poland’s PGZ.
State-owned PGZ controls more than 50 companies making weapons and ammunition – from armoured transporters to unmanned air systems – and holds stakes in dozens more.
It now plans to invest up to 8 billion zlotys ($1.8 billion)over the next decade, more than double its pre-war target, Chwalek told Reuters. That includes new facilities located further from the border with Russia’s ally Belarus for security reasons, he said.