Tucson helps rebuild Ukraine

Expertise from U of A and industry across the state offers expertise beyond defense and winning the war
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 7:36 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - A country still fighting a war sees help and hope in Arizona. Ukrainian industry leaders were in Tucson Wednesday to see how it can help rebuild the country. Ukrainians focused on not just winning the war but rebuilding the country are in Tucson seeking assistance in various fields.

“Arizona has the potential to help Ukraine win a war,” said Sergii Demydenko, CEO of Rebuild Ukraine Synergy, through a translator.

At the University of Arizona Wednesday, he said that he sees Arizona as part of Ukraine’s future even as it continues to fight a war with Russia. Ukrainian pilots train in Tucson, and the country depends on defense technology from Raytheon. The country has a relationship with Arizona that goes back to the late Senator John McCain.

“John McCain lived in Arizona and he was a big friend of Ukraine,” Demydenko said.

“They told us yes, we’re interested in procuring immediate defense technologies, but also how do we partner with Arizona in the long run to build back Ukraine,” said Lynndy Smith, president and CEO of Arizona Defense and Industry Coalition.

Smith worked in the late senator’s office and visited Ukraine in June. Now, she and the AZDIC are showing what other Arizona institutions like the University of Arizona can offer in water, energy, medicine and other fields with the help of Dr. Elliott Cheu, the University of Arizona’s interim senior vice president of research and innovation.

“So if we can bring technology, we can bring our know-how and the strength of the people and the faculty hear at the university to bear on these kinds of problems, I think we can come up with really interesting solutions to that,” Dr. Cheu said.

“Ukraine, after we win the war, will be advanced, modern, and beautiful,” Demydenko said.

He said the three things that grabbed his attention were setting up a medical system, assistance with science research, and education of the next generation of professionals like doctors and engineers.

“And this can be done only in cooperation with people who are willing to invest in Ukraine, willing help Ukraine and willing work with Ukraine to make Ukraine better,” Demydenko said.

The collaboration will likely begin soon enough that an update could be available in a matter of months.

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