Though military integration between Russia and Ukraine is well down from its Soviet-era peak, Ukraine still makes a surprising number of essential parts that go into modern Russian weaponry.
According to a 2009 survey by Kiev's Razumkov Center, Ukrainian factories produce the engines that power most Russian combat helicopters; about half of the air-to-air missiles deployed on Russian fighter planes; and a range of engines used by Russian aircraft and naval vessels. The state-owned Antonov works in Kiev makes a famous range of transport aircraft, including the modern AN-70. The Russian Air Force was to receive 60 of the sleek new short-takeoff-and-landing aircraft, which now it may have to do without.
Valentin Badrak, director of the Center of Army Studies in Kiev, says that even Russia's new Ilyushin Il-476 transport aircraft, which is built in the central Russian city of Ulyanovsk, cannot be produced without Ukrainian spare parts. He says Russia will be hurt by a cutoff of cooperation in "several spheres.... In Ukraine we have about two dozen companies that had projects with Russia important to Russia's security and defense."
The mainstay of Russia's strategic missile forces is the SS-18 Satan multiple-warhead intercontinental ballistic missile, all of which were produced in Soviet times at the giant Yuzhmash works in Dnipropetrovsk, and which still rely on Ukrainian expertise to keep in working order. However, the Razumkov report notes that Russia's next generation of strategic missiles, including the mobile Topol-M, are entirely produced in Russia.
"We have our own specialists who can service the Satan missiles," says Mr. Litovkin. "The problem is mostly a legal one," because the Ukrainians have the propriety rights to do that work, he adds.
Selling Russian secrets?
The Kremlin may also be worried that a Ukraine freed from its contractual obligations to Moscow might go out and sell Russian military secrets to other countries.
Russia's foreign ministry posted an unusual note earlier this week warning that Ukrainian representatives of Yuzhmash, which built the SS-18, were meeting with "representatives of some countries, regarding the sale of a production technology for heavy-class intercontinental ballistic missiles."
It added "we trust that despite the complicated foreign policy situation in Ukraine and the lack of legitimate supreme authorities, the current leaders of the country will be responsible, will fully comply with their obligation" to fulfill legal requirements and international rules against the proliferation of missile technologies.
Some Russian bloggers suggested that Ukraine was trying to sell Russian heavy missile technology to Turkey, a NATO country.