Read the original article at radiosvoboda.org
Armed Forces of Ukraine celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary. However, some experts say that the Ukrainian army, in fact, is only three years old. Because only after the beginning of the armed conflict in the east of the state combat-ready units were emerged, logistics began to improve, and the transition to contract basis was sped up. However, military experts point out that the reform of the Ukrainian Army is far from its end. They said the armed forces of Ukraine are structured on the Soviet model, and algorithms for decision making, strategic command and coordination have changed just a little.
Major achievements in the development of the Armed Forces of Ukraine took place precisely during the period of military conflict in the east.
"All the previous years, except for the last three, we reduced the armed forces and trying to decrease the number of soldiers and equipment, conversed arms and technology. This is the first time in the history of independent Ukraine when the armed forces have grown numerically and qualitatively. This is turn around at 180 degrees. It’s blessing in disguise, life forced us to do this, but in the end it is good that we returned to restoring the country's defense and combat capability of our armed forces, " says military expert Oleh Zhdanov.
Among the achievements of the past almost three years, experts distinguish the following:
- Renewed armed forces. Is it bad or good – it’s a secondary issue, but today they exist, they are combat-ready, they are deployed. There are problems with the equipment, but to deter Russian aggression we have enough equipment and weapons, given some units in warehouses and that which can be renovated and put to the ranks;
- Transfer of army to contract basis. At the beginning of armed aggression Ukraine was forced to declare six waves of partial mobilization. The country cannot afford to abandon term conscription, however, the army has contract basis;
- Creation of Special Operations forces is also mentioned as a positive change. They are created with and for the "templates" of NATO. As analysts hope, exactly the special operations forces will form the basis of a new army.
Reasons of making a leap in restoring armed forces
25 years Armed Forces anniversary – this date is more than nominal, says presidential adviser Yuri Biryukov, three years ago there was no army in Ukraine, he adds.
"For three years we have been walked a long way to ensure that we have the army, still able to maintain Russia's military aggression. It was possible due to the fact that we all worked: Department of Defense worked on this, the General Staff worked, Supreme Commander worked, deputy corps and Cabinet of Ministers worked, volunteers worked, we all worked. Precedents of such format of hostilities, of this magnitude, at such length of the front line, with the use of such equipment, weapons – we haven’t seen around the globe, perhaps since the days of the Vietnam conflict," said Biryukov.
In early 2014, Ukraine faced a choice: either to surrender or to provide security on its own. The engine, which led a whole state system to the result, consisted of volunteer battalions, Ukrainian civil society, director of military programs of Razumkov Center Mykola Sungurovskyi.
"Most volunteer battalions at the end of 2014 joined the armed forces, or the National Guard of Interior Ministry. On their basis and on the basis of mobilization and conscription waves armed forces have been practically re-created, operational capacity of are far from ideal, however sufficient for defense in this situation, "- said the expert.
Challenges and shortcomings
Yuri Biryukov said that eight months ago, the Defense Ministry has made a request for 108 billion UAH, but only 64 billion were allocated. This does not allow closing all directions on maintenance to reach 100 percent. Adviser to the President connects this with the difficult economic situation in the country through which it is impossible to finance the needs of the army in full. Military expert Oleh Zhdanov, despite a number of positive changes, said that the revival of the army is still going in the format of the USSR.
Military expert and volunteer Yuriy Kasyanov believes that not enough attention is paid to the development of the armed forces and defense sector, taking into account the confrontation with powerful neighbors like Russia.
"It is not because there is no money, but because the lack of the will of our leaders to deal with this neighbor. The whole world has long gone ahead. And Russia also has created a new generation of armed forces, not to mention those forces that are created in Europe, the US, Israel and others. And their economy is quite different, namely they have strong private sector that deals with defense, research issues, the creation of unmanned vehicles, IT technologies used for military purposes. Our Ukroboronprom works by Soviet standards of the late Soviet Union, while also there’s huge corruption component in it,” says Yuriy Kasyanov.
Need for volunteer help
Volunteers from the first days of the start of military aggression in Ukraine helped to provide the Armed Forces with clothes and equipment, which the state did not have time to handle with. Now the composition and nature of volunteer help has changed significantly.
"I am one of the first volunteers. We provided military with uniform, high boots, radios, body armors, pants, socks and so on, I drove a 20-ton truck. All that I delivered, basically, now is providing by the state", - says Yuriy Biryukov.
Financing and quantity of Armed Forces
In numerical equivalent the army increased by 2.5 times, at the beginning of the war in Ukraine there was 115 thousand soldiers, now according to the law - 250 thousand, said Oleh Zhdanov.
Public funding compared to 2013 increased, in fact, 3 times.
"When talking about the military budget of 110 billion, it should not be confused - there also National Guard and Security Service and Interior Ministry are included. Pure defense budget for the Armed Forces of Ukraine is UAH 50-55 billion, a 2.5% of GDP. And all military block gets 5% of GDP "- explains Zhdanov.
In developed countries, 2-4% of GDP is allocated only for the needs of the armed forces, said the expert.
Losses of Armed Forces
According to the Ministry of Defense, as of November 2016 over a period of ATO in eastern Ukraine 2145 soldiers of Armed Forces were killed. Non-combat losses amounted to 487 soldiers, and 7091 soldiers of Armed Forces were wounded.