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Zelensky's 12 key decisions in Ukraine's national security and defense area

Author : Yuriy Kochevenko

In order to try to understand the strategy in security and defense sectors, it is worth remembering and analyzing the decisions of the new government
16:27, 8 October 2019

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky
Open source

In order to try to understand the strategy in security and defense sectors, it is worth remembering and analyzing the decisions of the new government. I have chosen the 12 most important or indicative ones. Just decisions and actions – not statements. They are ranged in relatively chronological order. We analyze calmly, with a minimum of emotions and a maximum of facts.

1.Armed Forces of Ukraine. Appointment of Lieutenant General Khomchak Head of the General Staff - Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The first solution and very fast. In general, it would be logical to appoint a combat colonel or one who received the general's rank during the war or at least graduated from American War College.

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Obviously, it was extremely important to quickly remove disloyal Muzhenko (previous Commander-in-Chief, - ed.), but at the same time maintain a certain continuity and control over the Armed Forces of Ukraine. In fact, Khomchak does not differ from Muzhenko. He is the same "pre-war" general of the Soviet-post-Soviet school. And we also did not see significant changes in the command of the Armed Forces, only a slight rotation.

It is symptomatic that after the appointment of the Commander-in-Chief, the President did not intervene in the affairs of the army. Obviously leaving this to the future Minister of Defense. And this is rather a positive fact.

2.National Security and Defense Council (NSDC). Appointment of Danyliuk Secretary of the NSDC. I am not personally acquainted with Mr. Danyliuk, and his competence in security matters is unknown to me. According to reviews, this person is smart, he has his own moral principles. He never voiced any interesting or even contradictory ideas regarding the future security sector. In essence, the NSDC apparatus did not start its work at all. Obviously, there was not enough time for this. Well, his activities at the post have ended already.

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3.Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). Appointment of Ivan Bakanov as Chairman of the SBU. A longtime friend without any experience in working in the security services. In general, the President’s desire to have, on the country's main intelligence service, a person completely dependent on himself, who reigns supreme, is logical. Zelensky takes care of his own safety, has a good reason. Another question is whether such an appointment is consistent with national security.

4.Minsk group. At first, everything seemed to be not bad. The composition of the group has not changed too much. And professional people were brought there. And the return of ex-president Leonid Kuchma was a balanced decision. However, it was not clear how agreements are formed and what they rely on. A clear minus was the resignation of Roman Bezsmertny.

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5.Demilitarization of Stanytsia Luhanska (Donbas). A lot has been said about this. This actually flowed from the very leapfrog of the Minsk process. The arrangements are not entirely clear, not entirely transparent. In fact, it resulted in a unilateral withdrawal of Ukraine’s troops. The number of attacks did not decrease.

6.Liquidation of Ministry of Information Policy. Yes, this is also a matter of national security. It is possible to evaluate the effectiveness of the ministry in different ways, but its liquidation has left the issue of information security of Ukraine in an uncertain state in general. Who should deal with these issues - the National Security and Defense Council, the Ministry of Culture? And this is despite the fact that our losses in the information war are becoming more painful and tangible.

7.Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. New Minister of Defense Zagorodniuk is an entrepreneur and volunteer. This appointment was received with cautious optimism among the volunteers. Zagorodniuk headed the Design Office for Reform of the Ministry of Defense. The new minister should not have his own combat experience. And, as for me, in a country in the fifth year of the war, this is definitely a disadvantage. The government’s program contains general declarations: NATO standards, restoration of the military-industrial complex, etc.

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8.Parliamentary committee on National Security, Defense and Intelligence. Yes, I believe that the formation of a committee that is responsible for the legislative support of our defense is an important decision. MPs Zabrodsky, Kostenko, Berezin (members of this committee) know what war is. What the rest is doing there, in particular its head, is hard for me to understand.

9.Release of prisoners. One of the most emotional episodes of Zelensky’s latest reign. The whole country cried, and so did I. Those who risked the question of the price of that release were accused of cruelty. Our 35 comrades came back home. But the prisoners’ exchange does not mean winning the war.

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10.Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense. For the general public, the structure is little known. But overestimating the importance of power steering is difficult, especially during the war.

11."Just stop shooting." Such a decision was not publicly voiced, but information about our fire in response strangely disappeared from the Joint Forces Operation daily reports. Our soldiers are used as whipping boys. They are targeted, but they keep silent. Unfortunately, this is almost true. Now, the combined forces open fire in response, in less than half the cases. Well, remember the statement by Khomchak that there are shellings, but in general they do not violate the cease-fire.

12.Steinmeier formula. This is a step that, in its own sense, can, in its consequences, outweigh everything taken together. And this is the question of the existence of our state. Having all the opportunities for this, the president did not even try to impose his game but became a pawn in a stranger.

* * *

Therefore, as we see, the vast majority of decisions is an appointment. Which is logical for the newly elected head of state. However, the glaring crisis of incompetence, which is gradually permeating the entire system of state administration, is already evident; it is felt particularly acute in national security issues and is especially dangerous.

The president has so far failed to formulate his own strategy for victory in the war.

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