Ukraine Seeks US Weapons at Middle East Arms Expo

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the 2015 IDEX arms exposition in Abu Dhabi.

Marcus Weisgerber

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Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the 2015 IDEX arms exposition in Abu Dhabi.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko came to a massive arms tradeshow in Abu Dhabi where he called on Washington to provide his military with defensive weapons.

ABU DHABI – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko renewed his push to get defensive weapons from the United States and same time inked a military cooperation pact with the United Arab Emirates.

Poroshenko came to the International Defence Exposition and Conference, called IDEX, the largest arms show in the Middle East and a place where defense firms from around the globe come to show off their latest weapons and equipment to deliver his plea for arms, which the United States remains reluctant to provide.

“We [want to] increase the defensive capabilities of the Ukrainian Army only to better defend our territory,” Poroshenko said.

During a brief press conference, Poroshenko stressed several times that he is only seeking defense weaponry for the military, which has been battling pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine. Asked the type of assistance he would like to get from Barack Obama and the United States, Poroshenko continued his push for defensive weapons.

“We hope that in the very near future we can have a decision for the helping us to obtain the defensive weapons,” he said.

Poroshenko said he would like counter-battery and communications equipment from the United States.

Ukrainian officials met with Pentagon acquisition executive Frank Kendall on Monday evening. Kendall told Defense One before that meeting that he would be “in listening mode trying to understand what their needs are.”

(Read more: US Military Increasing Foreign Expo Presence After 2-Year Downturn)

On Tuesday, Poroshenko met with representatives for U.S.-based Textron Systems, according to Ukrainian officials. The Ukrainian military is interested in the company’s Commando armored vehicles.

The Ukrainian president casually strolled around the massive exposition hall at IDEX visiting American, European, Middle Eastern and Asian defense company exhibits. He was spotted looking at an armored vehicle built by Korean automaker Kia.

The Ukrainian delegation had “very important negotiations here for [the] supply of defensive weapons,” Poroshenko said.

More than 20 Ukrainian companies displayed arms at IDEX, including large armored personnel carriers. Poroshenko said it was the most Ukraine has ever displayed at the weapons bazar here.

The president declined to provide details about the types of weapons purchased by or from Ukraine. He did say that the equipment purchased by Ukraine is defensive.

In addition, Poroshenko agreed to a “military and technical cooperation” pact the United Arab Emirates during a meeting with Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown price of Abu Dhabi, and Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the country’s prime minister.

(Related: Paralyzed by Ukraine, Dumbfounded by Russia)

“In the current situation this is extremely important to have this type of relation, really partnership, really strategic, which we have now with United Arab Emirates,” Poroshenko said.

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