By Mike Stone
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is scheduled to speak to U.S. arms makers and military leaders on Sept. 21, when he is expected to make an appeal for more weapons for his country’s defense against Russia, according to an advance notice of the speech seen by Reuters.
Zelenskiy was set to speak by video link before a conference hosted by the National Defense Industrial Association in Austin, Texas, in his first-ever speech to the U.S. defense industry.
Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s minister of defense, was also slated to appear at the Future Force Capabilities conference and appeal for support for the country’s fight against Russia’s invasion, now more than six months on.
The association’s members include Raytheon Technologies Corp and Lockheed Martin Corp, which jointly produce Javelin antitank weapons that have been used by Ukraine.
Those companies and other top weapons makers, including Boeing Co, Northrop Grumman Corp, General Dynamics Corp and L3Harris Technologies Inc, were present at an April meeting called by the Pentagon to discuss Ukraine’s weapons needs.
Ukrainian forces were charging through an expanding area of previously Russian-held territory in the east on Friday after bursting through the frontline in a surprise breakthrough that could mark a major turning point in the war.
Ukraine would like to receive an additional 50 to 80 multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) from foreign partners, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s president, said on Friday.
The latest U.S. weapons aid package includes more ammunition, humvees and anti-tank systems.
Washington has already provided more than $10 billion in military assistance to Zelenskiy’s government since Russian troops invaded on Feb. 24.
(Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington; Editing by Bill Berkrot)