Walking through his Mississauga, Ont. factory, Roman Shimonov says he’s excited that his armoured personnel carriers will be part of the Ukrainian war effort.
“We truly believe that these vehicles are extremely needed in Ukraine,” he says.
Shimonov is the CEO of Roshel Smart Armoured Vehicles and creator of the Senator Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) – a large green vehicle made of certified ballistic steel and 100 mm glass windows.
The Senator APC has been used by NASA, the United States State department, and various police forces – and it’s been in action in Ukraine since April 2022.
Shiminov said the vehicles help evacuate people from the conflict zones, adding, “they take part in reconnaissance and surveillance operations and we feel nothing but proud.”
Last week, the Canadian government committed 200 of Roshel’s Senator APCs to Ukraine at a cost of $90-million.
While touring the Roshel factory, Shiminov eagerly showed how the vehicles are built entirely in-house, allowing for fast builds.
“The biggest challenge is to make sure that all of the components will be ready on time so we can produce four vehicles every day,” he said.
Designed in 2018, the Senator starts with the base of a Ford F-550. Then, the walls of ballistic steel and 100 mm windows are added. The Senator also has an in-house designed computer system that allows it to be driven remotely.
Shimonov said there is much more at stake than just filling an order. His wife is Ukrainian and, as he points to one section of the factory, he said, “Most of the people here are Ukrainian refugees.”
Since the start of the war, Roshel has hired 80 Ukrainian refugees.
One of them is 68-year-old Volodymyr Moyseyev. A welder by trade, Moyseyev was visiting family in Canada when the war broke out, so he stayed and applied for a job.
Working by himself in the back, Moyseyev said, “I used to build ships in the shipyard. And now I build armoured personnel carriers.”
Roshel’s contribution is being recognized by Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky who tweeted a thank you to Justin Trudeau and defence minister Anita Anand.
“The Ukrainian army needs 200 Senator APC’s more than ever. Together we are moving towards victory,” the tweet said.
Shimonov said this is a unique opportunity for his Ukrainian workers, who may have otherwise felt helpless.
“These people can help their country by building vehicles that in a very short time will be in a conflict zone,” he said.
Shimonov said they are in constant contact with the Ukrainian military in order to make adjustments to their design. With production moving 24/7, all 200 Senator APC’s will be delivered by summer.
Shimonov said he’s had to pay a price for his involvement — he’s one of four people at Roshel who are sanctioned by the Russian government. He has also decided to armour his own vehicle, just to be safe, he said.
Moyseyev said that his job at Roshel is only part of the work he and his family have ahead of them.
“After everything is settled in Ukraine, and I’ll be able to bring my family back from Canada, I will go and I will rebuild,” he said.
“We’ll build the houses. We’ll rebuild the schools. Kindergartens. And everything else that will be required.”
Until then, the work and the war effort continues.