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East European arms manufacturers thriving on war in Ukraine: Report

GROT C16 FB-M1, modular assault rifles system is seen at PGZ (Polska Grupa Zbrojna) arms factory Fabryka Broni Lucznikin Radom Poland, November 7, 2022. (Reuters photo)

An investigative report shows how Eastern European arms manufacturers have multiplied their profits by exponentially increasing their weapon deliveries to Ukraine since the onset of a Russian military operation against Kiev.

"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," Reuters reported on Thursday.

Russia started the military campaign in its southern neighbor in February. It says it launched the operation in order to defend the pro-Russian population in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk against persecution by Kiev.

Back in 2014, the two republics broke away from Ukraine, refusing to recognize a Western-backed Ukrainian government there that had overthrown a democratically-elected Russia-friendly administration.

Ever since the beginning of the war, Kiev's allies, led by the United States and Britain, have been pumping Ukraine full of advanced weapons, a step that Russia says would only prolong the hostilities.

Catching up with the trend, Poland is now the third country in terms of arms supplies to Ukraine, and the Czech Republic the ninth, the report said, citing figures provided by the Germany-based Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

"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 defense budgets, there is a real chance to enter new markets and increase export revenues in the coming years," said Sebastian Chwalek, CEO of the state-owned Polish Armaments Group (PGZ).

PGZ now plans to invest up to eight billion zlotys ($1.8 billion) over the next decade, more than double its pre-war target, Chwalek told Reuters.

The company, which he said has delivered artillery and mortar systems, howitzers, bulletproof vests, small arms, and ammunition to Ukraine, is likely to surpass a pre-war 2022 revenue target of 6.74 billion zlotys ($1.4 billion).

Also reflecting on the surge in the Eastern European arms shipments to Ukraine, Czech Ambassador to the Western military alliance of NATO, Jakub Landovsky said, "This is a great chance for the Czechs to increase what we need after giving the Ukrainians the old Soviet-era stocks. This can show other countries we can be a reliable partner in the arms industry."

Ukraine has received nearly 50 billion crowns ($2.1 billion) of weapons and equipment from Czech companies, about 95% of which were commercial deliveries, Czech Deputy Defense Minister Tomas Kopecny also told Reuters.

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