Rheinmetall to build and repair main battle tanks in Ukraine

Rheinmetall will open an armored vehicle plant in Ukraine within the next 12 weeks, shrugging off concerns other Western defense companies reportedly have about building a presence in the country while it is at war with Russia.

Germany’s biggest arms maker will also train Ukrainians to maintain the tanks and other armored vehicles made in the factory, which will be located in the western part of the country, CEO Armin Papperger told CNN in an exclusive interview on Thursday.

“[Ukrainians] have to help themselves — if they always have to wait [for] Europeans or Americans [to] help them over the next 10 or 20 years… that is not possible,” he said.

The company told the Rheinische Post newspaper earlier this year that it hoped to open a $218 million battle tank factory on Ukrainian soil, capable of producing about 400 tanks a year.

Papperger said on Thursday that factory workers would build and repair Rheinmetall’s Fuchs armored personnel carrier — named after the German word for fox — under license in the facility.

Rheinmetall will operate the plant in partnership with Ukroboronprom, a Ukrainian state-owned defense group, which will also own the facility. In May, the companies announced an agreement to boost Ukraine’s “defense technology capacities.”

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