There is no reason for optimism yet

There is no reason for optimism yet
There is no reason for optimism yet

What inheritance went to the new Minister of Defense of Ukraine


At the ceremony of presenting Mikhail Yezhel to the leadership of the Ukrainian military department, the newly appointed Minister of Defense noted that overalls will become the main uniform in the army in the next five years. Thus, making it clear to everyone that there is a lot of work to bring the armed forces into proper condition …


The presidential elections held in Ukraine led to changes in the leadership of the country's power structures. But practically everyone was surprised by the decision of President Viktor Yanukovych to appoint Mikhail Yezhel as Defense Minister. On the one hand, with a high degree of probability, it was predicted that Alexander Kuzmuk, People's Deputy of the Verkhovna Rada from the faction of the Party of Regions, the ex-head of the military department, would come to this post. On the other hand, as an alternative, it was expected that the post would again be taken by a civilian person - a professional politician. But, apparently, the political component in the issue of selection and appointment of top leaders of the power sector in the country has now started to go off scale that even those prominent representatives of the Ukrainian power elite, who previously selected their team solely on the basis of "nationality" and personal loyalty, are now looking at things are more objective.

For example, former President Leonid Kravchuk (1991-1994) strongly opposed the appointment of a politician as Minister of Defense. In an interview with The Day newspaper, he, in particular, considered it necessary to state: “My position is as follows. There cannot and should not be any political figures in military affairs … I am firmly convinced that now it is necessary to bring a professional to the Ministry of Defense. A man who spent his whole life in the army and knows all military laws. " According to Kravchuk, such a minister will be perceived by both the soldiers and the rest of the country's population. He considers it sufficient to have one political leader of the army. This is the president, who is also the supreme commander in chief.

In general, one can agree with the position of Leonid Makarovich and recognize his moral right to make such assessments. Interestingly, Oleksandr Kuzmuk also opposed the appointment of a representative of another department by the Minister of Defense.

Although to say that earlier the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine was headed exclusively by civilian politicians would be self-deception. Yes, indeed, formally ex-ministers Yevgeny Marchuk, Alexander Kuzmuk (during his second term in the department), Anatoly Gritsenko, Valery Ivaschenko are civilians. But at the same time, all of them have vast experience of service in law enforcement agencies. However, the newly appointed Minister of Defense has an undeniable dignity compared to his predecessors: Mikhail Yezhel has a military career behind him that looks more than decent. First of all, this is the experience of leading the naval forces for a considerable time, and he received them not in finished form, but in fact in the process of creation. For comparison: after the collapse of the Soviet Union, his colleagues in the ground forces and air forces of that time inherited a huge "legacy", but it was only reformed, reduced, plundered …

Staying for several years as chief inspector of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine also gave Mikhail Yezhel an undeniable "trump card".Called on duty to check and control everything that is inside the military department, he, like no one else, knows its real condition, problems, etc. And a correctly defined diagnosis of a "disease" is already half the success of the future "treatment."


The numbers speak volumes about what "inheritance" the reserve admiral got this time. For example, in 2009, the aviation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine received only 2.5% of the minimum required amount of funding. With an annual demand of 65-70 thousand tons of fuel, aviation units were provided with them at the level of about four thousand tons. More or less ready for missions about three dozen Ukrainian fighters (out of more than a hundred of these aircraft in combat units). In 2009, the average flight time for one aviation crew of the Ukrainian Armed Forces was 17.5 hours, and for an army aviation crew of the ground forces - only 10 hours. For comparison: the flying time of combat pilots in Belarus and Russia is 40-60 hours, in Romania - 100, in Poland - 150.

There are other indicators of the level of training of the Ukrainian Armed Forces: the average stay at sea of ​​the ships of the Ukrainian naval forces was about 11 days, and the total indicator of parachute jumps among the military personnel of the airborne and airborne forces was 15 186.

To fulfill all the programs planned in 2009 in the Ukrainian armed forces, their budget was supposed to be 32.4 billion hryvnias. For the army to “simply develop and perform its functions” (words of the ex-defense minister Yuri Yekhanurov), “only” 17.7 billion hryvnias were required. And the government has allocated to the military department for the year only 8, 4 billion, or 0, 87% of GDP.

In reality, the financing of the activities of the State Program for the Development of the Armed Forces of Ukraine during 2006-2009 was carried out only in the range from 30 to 50% (2006 - 50%, 2007 - 39%, 2008 - 54%, 2009 - 28%). This already allows us to confidently speak at the moment about the impossibility of its implementation on time and the need for the new minister to develop a plan of anti-crisis measures to actually save the Ukrainian army.



Initially, Mikhail Yezhel found himself in a very delicate situation of ethical choice. On the one hand, he faces serious tasks, which will require real professionals who are well versed in all areas of activity of such a problematic military department. On the other hand, it is a completely logical desire to bring like-minded people to key posts, people whom he trusts and has certain obligations to them. In addition, the "new team" that has taken over power in the country will influence the appointment of the minister in its own business and political interests.

And on the third - what to do with those officials who remained from the previous leadership? Some of them are in place and will continue to benefit the state. But after the victory of the Orange Revolution, generals were appointed to high posts, who were previously dismissed from their posts with scandals for certain serious omissions, for example, explosions at ammunition depots. It is difficult to understand the logic of Yezhel's immediate predecessors, but now such "rehabilitated" generals as V. Mozharovsky, R. Nurullin and the like still hold high posts. Only the efficiency of these commanders in modern conditions is painfully controversial …

The process of choosing a new minister is aggravated by ethical issues: as the commander-in-chief of the Navy, the chief inspector of the Ministry of Defense, he faced many of the current leaders of the military department in his service, who suddenly became his subordinates. And now “to put some out the door” is morally problematic enough.

It would be wrong not to point out another component in the work of the new Minister of Defense: he is forced to spend a significant part of his time on work and contacts outside the walls of his department - with the presidential administration, the Cabinet of Ministers, other ministries and state structures. They are also headed by new people, and each has its own interests.In addition, some officials in the course of their previous activities did not show any particular desire to work in the interests of the country's security structures, starting with the newly appointed Prime Minister, whom we respect. And Mikhail Yezhel will certainly have to communicate with them: on budget financing and provision of the Armed Forces with everything necessary, personnel issues, lawmaking, etc.

Not being previously a politician and a public person, not having a resource of personal influence, a level, for example, of his predecessor and at the same time rival Alexander Kuzmuk, the new minister will have to find a way out and fill these gaps.


Literally a day after his appointment, on Saturday, March 13, Yezhel held a meeting with the leadership of the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff on the future appearance of the command and control system of the military department. During an almost six-hour (!) Meeting, he heard the heads of the main structural divisions of the Defense Ministry and the General Staff. Moreover, this or that decision on their further fate immediately followed: to expand, reorganize, reduce, reassign, etc. only about 3% of its budget.

On Monday 15 March, work continued with other military command structures such as Joint Operations Command, Support Force Command and the like. The participants of the mentioned meetings drew attention to the style of work of the new minister: he did not listen to the reading of the "sleek" reports of the speakers, but transferred the meeting to a business discussion "not from a leaf". And it was bad for those leaders who could not substantiate the achievements and the need for the units headed by them in "live" communication.

It should be mentioned that General of the Ukrainian Army Ivan Svida, who was recently appointed Chief of the General Staff, took a roughly similar path. Having come to his post at the end of last year and having familiarized himself with the state of affairs, he instructed to work out the issues of optimizing the organizational structure of the "brain" of the Ukrainian armed forces. Moreover, three groups of specialists were engaged in this. The testimony was supported by the acting minister Valery Ivashchenko at that time, having given instructions to carry out similar work in departments and directorates that are not part of the General Staff, but subordinate to him personally.

This is doubly important, since it is not a secret that the overwhelming desire of the business-political elites in power to exercise control over the material resources of the military department is not a secret. And high-ranking civilian officials appointed to positions related to public procurement, the distribution of money from the military budget, etc., are doing everything possible to preserve the previously existing "relationship" schemes.

For example, after Yury Yekhanurov left the military department, an attempt was made to revise the structure of the central apparatus of the Ministry of Defense in order to deprive some officials of access to the schemes of "control" of resources created by them. But the "system" was outraged, and the case even came to trial. Thus, the Constitutional Court determined whether the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers, which obliged the head of the military department to coordinate the approval of the structure of the central apparatus of the Ministry of Defense with the first deputy prime minister, was in accordance with the basic law of the country.

Not everything is unambiguous within the military department either. For example, there is the Main Directorate of Communications and Information Systems of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. But there is also another structure - the Department of Transformation and Information Technologies of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, numbering 21 people.Among its tasks are the implementation in the military department of the state policy of informatization, the introduction of modern information technologies, as well as the project of creating a Unified automated control system of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

There are also other "pairs" that unnecessarily duplicate each other:

- Department of Humanitarian Policy of the Ministry of Defense and the Main Directorate of Social, Psychological and Educational Work of the General Staff;

- Department of Personnel Policy of the Ministry of Defense and the Main Directorate of Personnel of the General Staff;

- Sports Committee of the Ministry of Defense and Physical Training Department of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

And what standards provide for the existence of the so-called military service structures? Note that during the Soviet Union they were absent as unnecessary.

There is generally a unique structure - the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense. This special service, being formally just a structural unit of the military department, in practice has turned into an independent entity in the state-political sky of the country, endowed with a separate line in the state budget. Which, by the way, is enshrined at the legislative level.

It is not surprising that the leaders of the GUR got carried away with gaining "access to the bodies" of Ukrainian politicians, and they themselves went into politics, business, etc. But then it is appropriate to raise the question of the "high quality" of their work, since with authority, independence and other "attributes" they are all right. Don't believe me? Then let someone answer: where was this special service when the pirates were capturing Ukrainian citizens? How are things going with the use of space intelligence information (note that the purchase of commercial images due to their delay of several hours does not count)? Why is Ukraine systematically "wet" in the information space?

I would like to share a number of interesting facts. It is about the conditions under which the formation of the Joint Operational Command is taking place. This military command body was audited by the Commission of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine three times (!) During 2009. Sorry, but military structures at the stage of their formation, according to generally accepted rules, should not be subject to inspection activities of this level. And although formally OOK already exists not only on paper, but also in real life, it needs time to firmly "get on its feet", and the third stage of its creation is completed only in 2010.

Are there really high officials who do not understand these simple things? Apparently, there are such narrow-minded people. After all, those who know the realities of army life will confirm that a few weeks before such inspections, the planned daily activities of the military organism are practically paralyzed and the entire personnel in an emergency work only to meet the inspectors with dignity and show the result.


The current year does not give much reason for optimism yet. It is no coincidence that the Chief of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, General Ivan Svida, said in this regard: “As for the strategic directions, we will implement, first of all, those that do not require significant material costs, but are related to organizational issues and the improvement of the control system. The Armed Forces must function as a mechanism, which means that duplicating functions must be eliminated so that everyone clearly knows their area of ​​responsibility, is responsible for a specific area, today this issue requires clarification. As for funding, we will ask for as much as we need, not only for the maintenance of the armed forces, but also for elementary development. This amount has already been determined - we need UAH 19.8 billion. These funds will be enough to ensure the minimum security of the state. Ideally, for us to be provided with everything and at the same time to develop the army, 30 billion hryvnias are needed.Since we understand that the situation in the country is now difficult, and in addition to the military, there are also teachers and doctors, we have determined the minimum required amount - about 20 billion hryvnia. But not the 13 billion included in the draft budget for the next year, of which 4 is a special fund, and consider that this money is not and will not be."

Undoubtedly, Ivan Svida evaluates the situation in the country objectively and therefore does not dream of getting something completely impossible.

But … After the presidential elections for at least six months, Ukraine will be "carried away" by reformatting the power structures and relations between them. Ukrainian elites are busy with questions of their well-being in the changed system of business-political coordinates. The Minister of Defense also needs to organize his work in the new post. Leaders of a lower rank in the military department itself await anxiety for the decision of their fate. And when everyone around them feels like "temporary workers", will someone in such conditions engage in creative work for the benefit of the armed forces? The question is rather rhetorical …

And the funds for the military department in the draft budget for 2010 do not give reasons for particular optimism. However, there is also no reason to say that rhythmic financing will be carried out. It is not for nothing that the documents of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine clearly state the requirement not to carry out expensive combat training events in the first four months of 2010.

Over the 18 years of the existence of the Ukrainian army, attempts to reform its command and control system have been made several times. Moreover, this "kind" of reforms has become the most frequently repeated. We will not dare to assert that the leapfrog of these innovations went for the good. Alas, so far we see a complex, cumbersome, unsystematic "colossus" of the Ukrainian military department. And the words from the famous fable come to mind: "And you, friends, no matter how you sit down, you are all no good for musicians." I would like to wish that finally the new Minister of Defense and Chief of the General Staff would be able to rebuild the system in accordance with modern realities and in accordance with common sense …

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