Specialists of the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies (CDCA) offer their analysis of key trends in security and defense in the first half of May, 2019 year.
In the first half of May, the key challenge for the 2019 was the formation of an updated security sector structure, in particular, the discussion and preparation for solving personnel issues that took the lead in reforming Ukrainian realities.
At the same time, the experts of the Central State Tax Administration noted the constant tensions in the security sphere caused by, on the one hand, the concern about the use of the period of the transfer of power to neighboring hostile Russia (declared "passport blackmail" and a significant deterioration of the situation on the front, in the zone of combat collision), and, on the other hand, with the process of awareness of the new power team levels of responsibility for the development and implementation of a new state strategy. In this environment, the "personnel opposition of the presidents" was transformed into dangerous risks, namely a series of measures by Petro Poroshenko aimed at influencing the team of the newly elected head of state, Volodymyr Zelensky. First of all, through the use of the cadre lever and the rapid formation of a cohort of supporters in various professional circles of the security and defense sector.
Thus, the nervous bursts of the security environment, and of society as a whole, were caused by a number of rewards, groundless rendering of military ranks and individual personnel transfers. These steps were mostly negatively perceived by the expert and professional circles of the security and defense sector; from the side of the political party there are supporters of "personnel offensive" by Petro Poroshenko and his opponents.
Among the steps that should be mentioned first of all, the title of the Hero of Ukraine (9 May) was given to the head of the Security Service of Ukraine Vasyl Hrytsak. Also, the rank of general of the army - the highest military rank in Ukraine. The public lens also received decrees on the assignment to the Deputy Chief of the General Directorate of the SBU on Combating Corruption and Organized Crime Colonel Sergei Kovalenko of the Major-General's Major General's rank, and also the assignment to the head of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, Petro Tsigikalo (2 May), of the Army General's Military Rank . The observers noted that the main border guard of the country went from the colonel to the general of the army in less than four years, while its predecessor needed as much as 18 years.
But this gang rose in the political and media circles after President Poroshenko assigned Pavlo Demchini the first deputy head of the Security Service of Ukraine the rank of colonel general, while, according to reports from journalist Yuri Butusov and head of the Center for Combating Corruption Vitaliy Shabunin, "secret by decree ". Under the conditions that NABU investigated possible illegal enrichment and abuse of office by Paul Demchin. In addition, Poroshenko secretly conferred the rank of general on one of the Colonels of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who has a positive reputation as a military one and succeeded, thanks to the acting president, in one of the key positions in the management of the OPK-PTS. Among the steps of this nature are the appointment of the president as deputy chief of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense on the eve of the liberated head of protection of Petro Poroshenko Yuri Fedorov (about this 14 in May reported strana.ua with reference to a source in the administration of the President of Ukraine). The same source assured that the former chief of the Security Service of the President was given the rank of Lieutenant-General with a secret decree.
No less important given the influence on the staffing of the newly-elected head of state is the rotation of the commander of the Joint Forces, in particular, it is possible that before the assumption of the post of President Zelensky, the military general Sergei Naev (also with a positive reputation in the professional environment) was released with high probability may be appointed by the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces (or for the post of Chief of the Armed Forces in the event of the operational separation of such a post). I remind you that Petro Poroshenko 6 appointed Mayor-General Alexander Sirsky as the new commander of the Defense Forces. However, the game of political ambitions may have somewhat harmed the military environment, since, say, the appointment of Naev for the inauguration of Zelensky can, if not kill the wedge in military command, create unhealthy rivalry. In addition, according to Poroshenko, as military sources point out, there may be certain hopes that General Naev will be forced to influence the future head of the General Staff of the General Victor Mugenka in such circumstances.
So, In view of the preparations for the political struggle, Pyotr Poroshenko implemented several important tasks for himself as a policy. First, it has formed among prominent military and influential representatives of secret services supporters who are likely to support him in the political struggle. Secondly, he began active realization of the intention to influence the future personnel policy of the newly elected head Zelensky. Finally, his political force shows he has an extraordinary activity to mobilize. On the other hand, such actions of the head of state constitute significant new risks to the state, primarily a demonstration by western partners of the intensification of political struggle and the presence of internal contradictions. This can be used by the Kremlin.
All the marked events took place against the background of the metered reactions of the headquarters of President Zelensky, which can be called rather reflections on the steps of Poroshenko passing power. At the same time, the fact of an emotional record of his answer Zelensky gave a signal that the expected Poroshenko cooperation will not be. Moreover, the matter goes to even more confrontation. It should be added that the newly elected head of state may face certain problems in the field of appointment of staff. Indirectly this has been confirmed recently by Dmytro Razumkov, an advisor to the Zelensky headquarters on the air of one of the TV channels, when he actually proposed an "act of goodwill" - the resignation of defense ministers and the Foreign Ministry, as well as the Attorney General after the inauguration of the new president. It should be emphasized that only the parliament, which, in the event of a possible confrontation with the newly elected head of state, may be reluctant to do so, can only be dismissed by the current Attorney General and the head of the SBU. The same some voluntary resignations are needed by the team of Zelensky to unleash their hands for the implementation of personnel policy - today, in a confrontation with the parliament, the hands of the new president are almost tied up. For example, only the parliament can dismiss an acting minister of defense; as well as appoint - the actual approval of the nominee proposed by the president. In addition, the same situation around the post of the Chief Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense - the head of military intelligence can be appointed only on the submission of the Minister of War. In this context, it is rather interesting that even a new commander of the Joint Forces may be appointed by the new president, but on the recommendation of the Chief of the General Staff (now, according to the Law on National Security, the Commander of the Joint Force is subordinated to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine). That is, it makes sense to talk about the formation of a number of specific traps for the newly elected president by the current president. In addition, there are potential difficulties in changing the head of the Border Guard Office as this requires the submission of the head of the State Border Guard Service. The latter is appointed and dismissed by the Cabinet of Ministers on the proposal of the Prime Minister, made on the basis of proposals by the Minister of the Interior (although it is anticipated that the Navy Minister Arsen Avakov will be completely on the side of the newly elected president and will remain in favor, it is unknown how the current head of the State Border Guard Service will lead taking into account the "rapid collapse of stars" on his chase thanks to Petro Poroshenko).
Worth paying attention to the assessment of the situation by some experts. In particular, Viktor Nelbozhenko, a well-known political scientist and sociologist in Ukraine, and sociologist, Ukrainian National Barometer, Viktor Nabozhenko, 11, described the actions of Petro Poroshenko as "discrediting the president of Ukraine, destabilizing the supreme power in Ukraine" in May. He sharply described the "violent activity" of the president regarding the creation at the expense of an administrative resource of a bloc of supporters, calling it a form of "political cover-up of its corrupt multi-year activity on the post of President of the country." "This is due to the appearance of numerous new high-ranking judges, new generals, heroes of Ukraine, who would never have become them if Poroshenko did not lose the election." Finally, the expert's conclusion is as follows: the intention to weaken President Zeleny Poroshenko "helps the Kremlin to keep Ukraine in its orbit."
Indirectly, the "opposition of presidents" contributes to the aggravation of relations between the winner of the second round of the presidential election and the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, which may lead to the dissolution of the parliament. This position of 11 in May was confirmed by Zelensky's advisor, former Minister of Finance Volodymyr Danylyuk. As of the beginning of the day, 15 in May does not know if parliament will accept the demand of the newly elected president, or insist on another date, which inevitably exacerbates relations between the president and parliament and is likely to lead to the dissolution of the latter.
Thus, one can state that once again the political ambitions of individual politicians place Ukraine at the risk of a political crisis.
Estimation of current military threats to Ukraine
Despite the high intensity of the attacks of the Russian-backed groups in the Donbass, as well as the use by occupiers of banned heavy artillery and mortars, the implementation of the military scenario by the Kremlin seems unlikely. First of all, because of the hopes of a hostile Ukraine for the camp to introduce a significant number of pro-Russian forces into the future parliament and to achieve the possibility of blocking strategic decisions, especially in the security and defense sector. Already at this time, such Moscow expectations may be at the level of 15,5% (if the percentages of pro-Russian presidential candidates are mathematically matured during the 2019 election year, in particular, 11,67% Yuriy Boyko and 4,15% Oleksandr Vilkul). But given the loosening of the domestic political situation and the increase in military losses at the front, the Kremlin expects to get even better results. The same the results of the next parliamentary elections are perhaps the biggest challenge for Ukraine at this time, and the ability of the newly elected president to mobilize new pro-Ukrainian forces (anti-Russian in their views) is the greatest risk of the year. In this case, the ability of the OS to actively and effectively respond to a purely military threat from Russia is a significant guarantee of success..
Incidentally, one should pay particular attention to the emergence of "rhetoric of war" in the military leadership of Ukraine. In particular Former Commander of Operation Combined Forces, General Sergei Nayev was the first in the last few years who frankly declared the possibility of a successful military operation to clear Donbass from the occupation troops. "The main thing in the relief operation is the rapid advance of the Ukrainian army, the rest in the areas under control will complete the other security structures," said General 12 in May. Adding that "the military operation to liberate Russia occupied territories of Ukraine will take no more than one day."
Significant in this statement are at least two nuances. First, she heard a television channel in opposition to the current president Poroshenko (in an interview TSN) Moreover, it sounded oppositionally and to the views of Poroshenko, who is convinced that there is no military solution to the problem of the occupation of the Donbas. Secondly, he said this is a general with a serious combat experience, authority and justification of his position. "It is very time consuming for a military action on the liberation of the territory - less than a day," the rhetoric is a very strong psychological argument not only in the actual struggle against the Russian enemy, but also in the field of attracting potential allies, in particular, the United States (on the issue of expanding cooperation with the new government and providing more substantive military technical assistance). In addition, it is a clear signal to many European players, especially those who play the Kremlin.
In this context, it is important to expressly acknowledge the general that the forces organized by Russia's armed terrorist organizations "DNR" and "LNR" in direct support of Russia to resist the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Currently, under the control of terrorists and Russians are Donetsk, Luhansk and a number of regions occupied by Donetsk regions of Lugansk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine (ORDLO). Thus, General Naev noted that the command posts in the 1 and 2 armies occupy only Russians, and their number is 35 thousand people. "A third of them are made up Russian military personnel and mercenaries ", - insists the general, emphasizing that command posts in occupation formations occupy exclusively Russian officers. Also, Russia sent to the ORDLO the army special forces. In general, according to General Naev, there are about 11 thousands of Russian citizens in Donbass in the "armies of the armies", and the other personnel is locals. " That is the Ukrainian general frankly points out that the liberation of the Donbass will come from Russian occupation, while confident in the readiness of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to defeat the Russian groups, and assess the morale of the Russian blocs as low. "The senior management, generals, understand that there will be no career growth, so they sit calmly in their posts. And among junior officers the mood is not very good, "- said the ex-commander.
The significant elements of the promotion of the Ukrainian idea are also recognition of the deteriorating situation in the Donbass by the special representative of the United States Department of State for Ukraine, Kurt Volcker. "Over the past five years, Russian militants and protagonists have made life in Donbass worse. Including Russian-language ones, about which they are said to care, "said Volker via Twitter, stressing Russia's responsibility. The attitude of the inhabitants of Donbass to Russia may be of great significance, although at present the use of so-called "passport blackmail" by Moscow can be transformed into a new form of confrontation and artificial transformation of the occupied zone into pro-Russian space.
Significant events on the international scene and conclusions for Ukraine
Among the foreign policy challenges that are increasingly disturbing to Ukrainian power, the first thing to be said is the growth of European loyalty to Russia. So the European Union has already stated that it does not plan to introduce new sanctions against the RF due to the decision of the Russian Federation to issue Russian passports to residents of the Donbas. The ministers of foreign affairs of the EU member states, who met in Brussels to celebrate the 13-th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership, were informed by 10 in May. At the same time, the head of the Czech Foreign Ministry, Tomas Petršicek, explicitly stated that the EU countries are now "more concerned with the search for dialogue, not pressure, as the Russian Federation itself does." This position of Europeans has also been publicly confirmed by Romanian Minister Theodore Melescan.
It is quite symptomatic that it is at this time that contradictions between the US and the EU are intensifying. Recently, the United States has already warned the European Union that its current defense plans are jeopardizing the decade of integration of the transatlantic defense industry and military cooperation within NATO. This is stated in a letter to the Pentagon by the EU leadership of 1 in May, the content of which was reported by the Spanish newspaper El Pais. In particular, the letter contains a veiled threat of political and economic repression if Brussels continues to strive to promote European arms development projects with the participation of other countries, not necessarily the United States. The letter came shortly after the April European Parliament 18 gave its prior consent to the creation of a European Defense Fund. It is known that the United States is opposed to the so-called Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), a program aimed at closer cooperation in the field of security and defense involving the 25 member states of the EU. If we recall the confrontation between the United States and Turkey through the purchase of the S-400, then the heterogeneity and controversy of the western camp become apparent and add strength to Moscow.
Reformist efforts of Ukraine. Estimates of the current state
For the period under review, one should mention the signing by President Poroshenko of the decree on the enactment of the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine on 7 May 2019 of the Year "On Measures to Strengthen the Defense Capability of the State". "The document recognizes the need for further improvement of the development of conceptual approaches to strengthening the state's defense capability in the conditions of prolonged aggression by the Russian Federation," - it was reported by the team of Poroshenko.
Among other things, the decree provides for the creation of an interdepartmental working group to prepare proposals for strengthening the defense capability of the state, headed by Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Serhiy Krivonos. "The interagency working group is instructed, in particular, to develop proposals by the National Security and Defense Council to improve the territorial defense system, to increase the level of military patriotic education of young people, to prepare the military reserve of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military formations, to counter information aggression against Ukraine and to organize and support the action of the resistance movement", - noted in the message for the media. The interdepartmental working group includes the deputies of the Minister of Defense of Ukraine, the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, the Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine, the Minister of Youth and Sport of Ukraine, the Minister for Veterans Affairs of Ukraine, the Minister of Information Policy of Ukraine, the Head of the Security Service of Ukraine, National Guard of Ukraine, Commander of the Land Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
In general, when assessing the steps of the current authorities in the first half of May this year, it should be noted that the activity was directed at the preservation and development of the developed structure and the involvement of this process, including new people from reputable representatives of the security and defense sector, including from the sight for the formation of a promising core of supporters of the current president and the political force preparing for parliamentary races under his banner. With it will not be superfluous to emphasize that at this stage the decision of domestic political issues, mainly those that strengthen the influence and political potential of the most active president, prevails. The issue of success in the war against the Russian enemy, as well as the development of the security and defense sector, remained on the second, often secondary, plan. The development of risks of this very nature, primarily due to the high probability of an artificially formed political crisis, may deepen and create a permanent threat of revenge on the part of the pro-Russian forces.
Director of the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies