October 2, 2023
Arizona Defense and Industry Coalition (AZDIC) leads second delegation to Ukraine for launch of the Inaugural International Defense Industries Forum (DFNC1) with President Zelenskyy
Forum provides platform for AZDIC President to meet with Ukraine President Zelenskyy, Secretary of the National Security and Defense, Minister of Strategic Industries, and Minister of Defense to discuss joint production opportunities with Arizona businesses
Kyiv, Ukraine — Last week, in a significant step towards bolstering Ukraine’s defense capabilities and fostering international collaboration and economic development, the Arizona Defense and Industry Coalition (AZDIC) led a delegation to the Inaugural International Defense Industries Forum (DFNC1) in Kyiv. Hosted by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the event was co-organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Strategic Industries, and Ministry of Defense.
Among the 252 attendees from over 30 countries was AZDIC President Lynndy Smith, who led a delegation of five companies eager to explore partnership and production opportunities in Ukraine. The participating companies included executives from MD Helicopters, Diamond Age, Empty Shell Defense, New Use Energy, and Squire Patton Boggs.
At DFNC1, Ukrainian leaders highlighted their commitment to long term partnerships and contracts with US industry to rejuvenate Ukraine’s industrial base and ensure the production and resupply of various defense systems and products. This initiative not only enhances the global reach of companies involved but also supports Ukraine in becoming increasingly self-reliant on weapons produced by its own defense industry, in collaboration with international partners.
“AZDIC serves as an example of how states should facilitate effective partnerships and industry collaboration with the Ukrainian Government,” stated Ukrainian Minister of Strategic Industries (MSI), Alexander Kamyshin. “Arizona has been a long-standing supporter of Ukraine Independence through the work of the late Senator McCain and AZDIC is carrying on the Senator’s legacy and impact through their work with Ukraine today.”
During the forum, AZDIC President Lynndy Smith participated in a close circle meeting with President Zelenskyy, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksiy Danilov, Minister of Strategic Industries Alexander Kamyshin, Minister of Defense Rustem Umerov, and key executives from leading defense manufacturers. An important dialogue on cooperation was also held with the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Vasyl Teterea, Deputy Chief of the National Guard of Ukraine Oleksandr Bilous, Deputy Head of the National Police of Ukraine Hennadiy Fedoruk. During these meetings, Smith underscored the urgency for companies to invest in Ukraine to ensure mutual success in the future. She highlighted the need for joint ventures, disclosing that AZDIC had received over 50 proposals from Arizona businesses and universities interested in establishing operations in Ukraine.
“AZDIC is committed to driving direct connections between Ukraine and industry members interested in the development of joint ventures and production opportunities,” said AZDIC President Lynndy Smith, “This collaboration not only strengthens our respective industries but is also emblematic of the collaborative spirit between Arizona and Ukraine. Together, we are forging a path toward mutual progress and prosperity.”
AZDIC’s engagement with Ukraine initially started with a partnership with Rebuild Ukraine Synergy, an organization that leverages public diplomacy and international cooperation to propel Ukraine’s development in key areas including defense, economy, culture, and technology.
“Together, we are forging new paths of collaboration that will drive progress, innovation, and shared prosperity for both nations,” said Rebuild Ukraine Synergy CEO Sergii Demydenko. “We are thrilled to collaborate with AZDIC to expand these critical conversations nationally, through the umbrella of the Global Defense & Industry Coalition.”
Furthering their commitment to Ukraine, during the Forum, AZDIC and the delegation members signed the Ukraine Defense Industry Compact. As signatories, they join leading defense industry players around the world supporting Ukraine’s fight for freedom and independence. They also reinforce their commitment to the recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine’s economy by looking for opportunities to engage in trade and investment, peer-to-peer expertise sharing and other partnership-based business activities.
“We are deeply committed to Ukraine’s safety and security.” said MD Helicopter’s VP of Sales and Marketing, Jason Lindauer. “Our advanced light attack scout helicopters would safeguard both military and civilian personnel as they enter and exit the battlefield. Beyond the initial supply, our dedication extends to empowering Ukrainian workers. We are prepared to establish a comprehensive ecosystem, involving training and maintenance programs, all managed by skilled Ukrainian professionals. This holistic approach ensures the sustained success of our
products within the country, contributing significantly to Ukraine’s defense capabilities.”
“I am deeply honored to work with AZDIC and our partner companies and Universities to provide Ukraine with unwavering support,” said Squire Patton Boggs Sr. Policy Advisory and Chairman of the AZDIC Advisory Board, Rick Stilgenbauer. “My former boss, Senator John McCain, was a staunch advocate for Ukraine, and his legacy lives on through AZDIC’s continued mission. We stand united in empowering Ukraine to embrace a prosperous and secure future.”
“Our mission goes beyond just technology; it’s about making a real impact,” said Diamond Age CFO Cole Young. “Today, we want to assist by constructing 3D printed bunkers, ensuring immediate safety. Tomorrow, we aim to develop cutting-edge military barracks, enhancing security measures. Looking ahead, our vision includes rebuilding entire communities sustainably and securely. We are committed to supporting Ukraine’s resilience, both in times of conflict and in the pursuit of lasting prosperity.”
“At Empty Shell Defense, we are deeply committed to supporting Ukraine through the development of advanced manufacturing facilities for critical munitions,” said Empty Shell Defense CEO Jeffrey Pitts. “This proposal not only aims to supply essential resources during the war but also establishes a foundation for long-term industry success for Arizona and Ukraine.”
“As a Ukrainian by blood and an entrepreneur based in Arizona, I’m deeply connected to both worlds,” stated New Use Energy Founder, Paul Shmotolokha. “We are honored to supply Ukraine with vital battery generators during these challenging times. Yet, our commitment goes beyond immediate need. We are driven to establish local production in Ukraine, not just to bolster the Ukrainian workforce and economy but also to foster long-term stability and growth.”
The event in Ukraine follows the historic signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between AZDIC President Lynndy Smith and Ukrainian Minister of Strategic Industries, Oleksandr Kamyshin. President Zelenskyy graced the occasion, accompanied by US Senator Mark Kelly, senior staff from the office of US Senator Krysten Sinema, and senior leadership from Squire Patton Boggs. The MoU serves as a catalyst for the development of joint ventures and production opportunities, with AZDIC acting as a vital bridge between Ukraine and defense and mining entities in Arizona and other targeted US states.
About Arizona Defense and Industry Coalition (AZDIC)
The Arizona Defense and Industry Coalition (AZDIC), a chapter of the Global Defense & Industry Coalition (GDIC), is a partnership of regional organizations inspired by Senator McCain, comprising the defense and mining industries, military, veterans, and more. Founding members include West Valley Defense Alliance (WVDA), Mesa Industry & Defense Council (MIDC), Southern Arizona Defense Alliance (SADA), and Yuma 50. Together, these groups work closely to foster innovation and advocate for those providing critical resources and services to the U.S. warfighter and our allies abroad. AZDIC’s mission is to unify the Arizona defense industry and its stakeholders to help secure both state and national security through better communication and policy reform. For more information on AZDIC, email Lynndy Smith at LS@defensecoalitions.org.