Strategic conversations will allow Arizona to provide path forward on Ukraine’s future through partnerships and new investments
SCOTTSDALE , Ariz., June 9, 2023 — The Arizona Defense and Industry Coalition (AZDIC) returned to the United States today after a week-long trip to Ukraine to meet with high-ranking leaders regarding defense technologies, reconstruction efforts, digital transformation, food security, educational and R&D opportunities.
AZDIC President Lynndy Smith was invited to Ukraine after hosting Parliament Member Dmytro Liubota earlier this year to discuss immediate defense technology needs. Through partnerships with Tina Waddington, Executive Director of the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations, Austin Kennedy, Senior Advisor for Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Billy Kovacs, Federal Affairs Director for Governor Katie Hobbs, David Cook, Arizona State Representative and Chair of the International Trade Committee, Robert Medler, President of the Southern Arizona Defense Alliance, and Rick Stilgenbauer, Senior Public Policy Advisor at Squire Patton Boggs, AZDIC is working to support Ukraine with everything from immediate defense materials to long term reconstruction efforts and development of a domestic defense industry.
“Arizona and America continue to stand with Ukraine. The Arizona Defense and Industry Coalition’s visit to Ukraine helps us further support Ukraine against Russia’s illegal and unprovoked war,” said Arizona Senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema.
“It was an honor to host the Arizona Defense and Industry Coalition,” said Liubota, Kharkiv parliament member. “Their passion and dedication to creating productive solutions for Ukraine will have a significant impact on our ability to succeed during this current crisis.”
“For Ukraine, relief does not come in one shape and size,” said Governor Katie Hobbs. “The country’s needs are unique and span a variety of industries and infrastructures. Arizona is home to many impressive innovations and research centers. I look forward to discussing how Arizona and Ukraine can further partner in efforts to defend and rebuild Ukraine.”
“The future of Ukraine cannot be built by simply investing in outdated infrastructures,” said Rick Stilgenbauer, Senior Public Policy Advisor at Squire Patton Boggs. “By partnering with allied nations, Ukraine can harness the latest technologies and advancements to improve the lives of every citizen. In this instance, reconstruction and innovation will go hand-in-hand, and we’re honored to provide assistance wherever it is needed most.”
During this visit, the AZDIC delegation met with high-ranking officials including Ukrainian Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov, Volodymyr Gavrilov, Deputy Minister of Defense Sergio Blevins, Deputy Minister of Strategic Industries Android Melnyk, Deputy Minister of Foreign AffairsYegor Dubynskyi, Deputy Minister for Digital Transformation Oleksandr Korienko, First Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Mykolaiv Boyko, Deputy Chairman of Kyiv Regional State Administration Evgen Ivanov, and Deputy Chairman of Kharkiv Regional State Administration. Additionally, the Arizona delegation also visited the City of Irpin where they saw first hand the cruelties of Russian aggression.
“The level of conversations during our visit cannot simply be explained,” said Rep. Cook. “I am honored to participate in this delegation on behalf of Arizona Speaker of the House Ben Toma as Chairman of International Trade Committee and I am overwhelmed with joy that the Arizona legislature and the Synergy of the Development of Ukraine have entered into a formal memorandum of understanding to establish immediate and long term strategic communications and actions between Arizona and Ukraine.”
“We return to Arizona with a commitment to provide real solutions for Ukraine both now and in the future,” said Lynndy Smith. “We have already arranged a platform for our over 1,200 defense contractors in the state of Arizona to discuss potential solutions to priorities related to drone surveillance, munitions, and aircraft procurement and maintenance.”
“Arizona is home to numerous defense assets including the 162nd Wing of the Arizona Air National Guard which was honored to be selected to host Ukrainian pilots for an initial evaluation of their ability to transition to the F-16 platform,” said Robert Medler, President of the Southern Arizona Defense Alliance. “As the administration continues to evaluate assets for Ukraine, we would welcome the opportunity to host their F-16 training in Tucson.”
Prior to visiting Ukraine, the AZDIC delegation attended a briefing in Rome with Ambassador Cindy McCain, the Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme. The ongoing global food crisis has been exacerbated since the war’s onset, as Ukrainian farmers were unable to export critical wheat and grain supplies for an extended period of time.
About Arizona Defense and Industry Coalition (AZDIC)
The Arizona Defense and Industry Coalition (AZDIC) is a coalition of regional organizations inspired by Senator McCain, comprising the defense and mining industries, military, veterans and more, to act as a united voice and advocate for regional and national security efforts. 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 US national security efforts. AZDIC’s mission is to unify the AZ defense industry and its stakeholders to help secure both AZ regional and national security through better communication and policy reform. For more information on AZDIC, email Lynndy Smith at LS@defensecoalitions.org.