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Zelensky opens forum in bid to attract arms makers

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has lobbied the west for more weapons to counter Russia. (AP pic)

KYIV: Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has opened Kyiv’s first International Defence Industries Forum, in a bid to attract more manufacturers to build arms in Ukraine.

Kyiv has depended heavily on western aid since Russia invaded last year, but is increasingly seeking to bolster its domestic arms industry amid fears support from its allies may waver.

“Our first task is to win this war and return a lasting and, most importantly, reliable peace to our people. We will accomplish this task through our cooperation with you,” Zelensky said in a speech at the opening yesterday.

“We are interested in localising the production of equipment necessary for our defence … and advanced defence systems used by our soldiers that give Ukraine the best results at the front today,” he said.

Officials from over 30 countries and 250 defence firms were gathered for the forum, which comes as Zelensky lobbies the west for more arms to wage a counter-offensive against Russia.

Kyiv launched its push back to regain occupied territory in June but has acknowledged slow progress as its troops encounter lines of heavily fortified Russian defences.