Contagion from the Ukraine crisis could affect its ability to honor defense contracts signed with Pakistan. In recent weeks, eastern Ukraine has devolved into chaos as Russia-backed separatists continue to fight the central government. Additionally, the loss of Crimea to Russia earlier this year affected Ukraine’s ability to manufacture important defense-related materials and disrupted supply chains.
According to Defense News, the Ukrainian government is unconvinced that it will fail to meet contract obligations to Pakistan. It has reassured Pakistan via its ambassador Volodymyr Rakomov that all obligations will be met. The ambassador met with the Pakistani Minister for Defense Production Tanveer Hussain in late April and he said that “All factories are in full swing and there are no problems of legitimacy in Ukraine as portrayed.”
Ukraine manufactures the engines that are used in Pakistan’s Al-Khalid (MBT-2000) series of tanks. About 500 of these tanks were in use by the Pakistan Army as of 2009. The tanks were jointly developed by China and Pakistan in the 1990s and now are a major component of Pakistan’s land-based conventional forces. According to sources cited by Defense News, including a former Australian defense attache in Islamabad, the Pakistani Army is particularly concerned about its Ukrainian Al-Khalid tank engines.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
It’s unknown precisely how many engines or other systems Pakistan is expecting from Ukraine but its concern over Ukraine’s internal stability appears urgent. Ukraine may also be slated to assist Pakistan in maintenance and upgrading the internals of the Al-Khalid tanks. Ukraine also provided Pakistan with a large order of T-80UD tanks in the 1990s although these are likely not the cause of concern for the Pakistan military at this time.
Considering its size, Ukraine is a major defense technology exporter, specializing in Soviet-era designs. Since its descent into internal instability this year following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the future of Ukraine’s defense industry has come under doubt. Russia has already moved to take over at least 13 Crimea-based Ukrainian defense enterprises, “including the Odessa Aviation Plant and a Joint Stock Company (JSC) Motor Sich.” The Russian military itself relies on Ukraine-based manufacturers for important defense components, including helicopter motors and engines for Russian naval ships.
Other Asia-Pacific nations are concerned about Ukraine reliability as a defense partner. According to WantChinaTimes, the escalation of the Ukraine crisis has caused China to reconsider its partnership with Ukraine. China’s procurement of helicopters, trainers, radars and tanks will be delayed due to Ukraine’s internal troubles according to analysts.