"Changing the course in the Ukrainian direction" is a topic that attracted the attention of political scientists and experts after Putin's sudden announcement of the modernization of power in Russia itself. Unchanged, Russia remains Ukraine's greatest enemy and most important danger. But the transformation of the course will not happen - as before, the Kremlin's primary goal remains the destruction of Ukraine as an independent state and the transformation into a vassal territory. At the same time, I consider it necessary to express reservations to supporters of the idea that Moscow seems to have laid down its weapons. This is a very false thought, a dangerous illusion. And one of the Kremlin's new pitfalls aimed at hindering the development of Ukraine's defense potential.
Russia - hard to disagree with - has put off the idea of a large-scale war with Ukraine. Given the possibility of using more sophisticated, you can say, filigree methods of tameing Kiev. At the same time, the Kremlin's "military lever" may appear at any time, and the Ukrainian authorities must not forget, not ignore. Moreover, in case of Kyiv's desire to end its status as an outsider of political battles, only a powerful defense potential can change the rhetoric of negotiations with Moscow.
As for the subtle methods of struggle mentioned, it should also not be assumed that the Kremlin's subversive activities will completely change the current format. Yes, the center of gravity will move into the political plane - with the realization of the task of all-round multifaceted and multi-way support of pro-Russian political forces and networks of Russian influence. Interestingly, this is happening today. It is a question of conducting a very demonstrative (and, in principle, typical) modern special operation by the Kremlin agency. In particular, when in several areas of Kyiv on the night of January 30, boards appeared with the slogan "Russia is our strategic partner" and a photo by Oleg Katyushchenko. We can say today that the political and subversive activities of Russia in Ukraine will gain momentum and demonstrate the full diversity of modern technologies. The security information plane will for some time become a key factor of influence and confrontation - the spheres of influence will touch both the media and directly various mechanisms of change of consciousness in the society..
In this context, one can fully agree with Russian political scientist Andriy Piontkovsky regarding his statement about the most dangerous scenario for Ukraine. "Kozak is more delicate than Surkov, Moscow wants to" push "self-proclaimed DNR and LNR into the political body of Ukraine" (January 29). Such a course, by the way, is entirely consistent with the worst-case scenario (out of eight possible), which in 2019 modeled the Defense Intelligence Main Directorate of Defense in Ukraine - provoked, created and directed by Moscow, the Kremlin will declare war on the public. And, of course, in accordance with its development will be able to use (or not apply) its notorious "military lever".
So, again, it is Moscow who has the choice and agenda, while Kiev is still only focused on reflection. This is another reason to appeal to the creation of a powerful military as a reliable institution for deterring external aggression.
The Kremlin moves to the fight in stealth mode
Although in real life, the statement "The Kremlin goes to fight in stealth mode" is not completely untrue. The Kremlin has been waging a "war of attrition" for quite some time. The "dilution of forces" that the Ukrainian authorities have succeeded in has created an additional trump card for the Kremlin - in real life, we all experience it in the form of almost daily reports of losses (I want to focus on how the number of sniper bullets has increased). It is also evidence that the war will continue to play its powerful role in the siege of Ukraine by Russia. In this context, information from the Ukrainian intelligence that the grouping of Russian-occupying troops in the Donbass is now reinforcing the leading positions of sniper pairs arriving from Russia (not to mention artillery and tanks being diverted closer to the line of demarcation) looks like a sign of development. "The Russian-occupation command is attracting additional sniper pairs that do not belong to full-time units 1, 2 of the AK and arrive in temporarily occupied territory from Russia, across the border-controlled areas of Ukraine," said the IOU Main Intelligence Directorate.
By the way, time does not play out for Putin. Which made him resort to tactics. He needs a victory that he can use to make his top tenure easier. But at the same time Vladyslav Surkov left the civil service not so much "in connection with the change of the course of the Russian Federation in the Ukrainian direction", but for personal reasons. Because his personal importance in the process of the attack on Ukraine with the appearance on the stage of Dmitry Kozak lost the factor of "the main". Therefore, the one who was considered the "architect" of the events in the Donbass, decided to leave the scene.
As for why Kozak, the journalist Vitaliy Portnikov (Glavred) on January 30 said: “Let us at least remember Mr Kozak's activity in Moldova, about what happened recently, about this famous combination of the transition of power. in Moldova from oligarch Plahotniuk to pro-Russian President Dodon with the participation of pro-European, pro-Western forces, who participated in the overthrow of Plahotniuc and the formation of a coalition with pro-Russian forces and were then thrown out of power, and with the participation of the United States and the European Union. however, they were involved in the formation of a coalition of pro-European and pro-Russian forces of the first stage for the final return of Moldova to the Russian sphere of influence. " Also, it is the political "combination" in Ukraine that the Kremlin leader expects from his exile. But war, sabotage, acts of terrorism can be used in the same way by Moscow, but in other proportions and other messages. First of all, in order for the pro-Russian political forces to raise their heads and make a loud call for "peace."
The significance of the events in the Russian Federation itself, namely, the emergence of a new government headed by Mikhail Mishustin on January 21, should not be overstated. Putin will totally control Russia. Key positions remained unchanged: Vladimir Kolokoltsev remained head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergei Shoigu retained the position of the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov remained the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Anton Siluanov retained the post of the Minister of Finance of the Russian Federation. The same political cosmetology is applied exclusively to Putin, and so frankly, cynically and not obscurely, that the conclusion is only one: Putin is feeling well, is feeling the unwavering power of his own team and is continuing his destructive path.
Risks for Ukraine in the International Arena
Europe gives up. During the second half of January there were many negative events that have a negative color for Ukraine. The deputy chairman of the Russian State Duma, the head of the Russian delegation to PACE Petro Tolstoy, vice-president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (January 28), the man who called Ukraine and Georgia "ineligible," should start. The problem is not only that Moscow's decision has been able to “stretch” against the protests of the Ukrainian delegation. In fact, this event testified that the PACE's renewal of Russia's participation in the work of the organization ceased to be the area where progressive European policy is taking place. More, Europe as a whole is increasingly playing up to Putin, demonstrating a willingness to put up with the Kremlin's aggressive, anti-Western policies.
NATO remains a center of resistance for the Russian Federation and hides weakness. Within a few weeks, as part of the Europe 2020 Defender exercises, the United States will deploy 200 troops to Europe, the largest deployment of US troops in Europe since the end of the Cold War. According to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, "it is wrong to say that the US is leaving Europe, and closer EU-NATO cooperation also means closer cooperation between Europe and North America and greater transatlantic ties, despite all the existing differences". However, in recent years, the destructive and unpredictable position of US President Trump has lost US leadership in the Alliance, putting the military bloc on the brink of survival. Also, this move can be seen as a resuscitation, not as a consequence of "shared fundamental values".
Will Russia be able to “curb” Belarus? Moscow is steadily forming a dangerous ring around Ukraine. In order to involve Minsk in the fairway of its foreign policy, Moscow is actively rearming Belarus. For example, in the second half of January, Russian media reported that the supply of 12 Irkutsk Su-30SM fighter jets to Belarus would take place almost domestic (that is, within the range of $ 24-30 million, with an export value of up to $ 80-90 million. $). Belarusian analysts do not even rule out the possibility of offsetting - with the continuation of free deployment of Russian military facilities in Belarus after 2021. It's quite clear that "Taming" Belarus threatens Ukraine with the possibility of organizing an armed attack from the territory of this country.
As for Minsk's position, President Lukashenko is trying to resist, but there is not enough force and external support for that. "They'll eat within a year" - that's how Lukashenko spoke about an alliance with "brother Russia" on January 24, adding that he did not want to be the last president of Belarus. One of the practical steps taken by Belarus is to address the issue of US oil supplies via Odessa. However, according to experts, these deliveries are still made manually, and therefore the reorientation of Belarus to other suppliers is not necessary to speak.
Progress in Security and Defense Reforms in Ukraine
SSU reform as a key element of the transformation of the security sector. The absence of a new Law of Ukraine “On SBU”, despite the insistent recommendations of Western partners, the requirements of the active part of society and the provisions of the Law of Ukraine “On National Security” adopted in 2018, creates additional obstacles for the perception of the current authorities. In particular, the absence of restrictions on the SBU's powers at this time remains a significant negative factor in society's perception of Ukraine's overall transformation and plays no role in favor of the image of the head of state. So far, the SBU combines law enforcement and intelligence services that are unparalleled in the Western world.
Army development and internal differences. It should be noted that the development of the Armed Forces and the transformation of the army into an effective institution of deterrence of Russian aggression is hampered by the absence of a number of components. Above all, there is no person (body) in the state who would systematically engage in defense reform and army transformation. In the second half of January, there were many differences between the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff in their views on the development of the Armed Forces. In particular, if promulgated by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Vision, or the vision of the development of the army for the next 10 years, first and foremost envisages the successful deterrence of the aggressor, then NATO standards remain the main guideline for the Minister of Defense. Although it is impossible to notice the certain passion of the military department. In particular, despite the real complexity of the State Defense Order (DOS) for 2020 (for example, due to the uncertainty of the contours of the future Armed Forces and the lack of conclusions of the defense review, which the Minister of Defense indirectly acknowledged by saying that part of the DOS will be "reserved" for the future) nevertheless, he signed this important document on January 28. At the same time, according to some data in the Ministry of Development of Economy, Trade and Agriculture of Ukraine, the defense department as of January 28 this year. remained the only customer who did not decide on doses. In the same vein, the Head of the Defense Ministry expressed his hope for a real readiness to develop more flexible and sincere cooperation with the domestic industry.
ROM "On Defense Procurement". The promotion of the draft Law of Ukraine "On Defense Procurement", without exaggeration, is an effective step of the legislature on the way of normalizing the issue of re-equipping the defense forces and eliminating a number of problematic issues. It should be acknowledged that in January, the profile parliamentary committee rightly defended the priority of the development of the national defense industry and the transparency of the procedures for the purchase of weapons and military equipment (OVT) within their import. The "last word" in the sense of the ROM is left to Parliament. The most sensitive issue remains the normalization (or rather, the balancing) of the issue of imports in the course of rearmament of the Armed Forces. In the case of support by all parliaments of the positions approved by the profile committee, imports will be made in several cases, in particular when domestic producers are not able to supply defense products or perform defense work - this is the approach that public associations and non-governmental think tanks have insisted on. The additional import conditions stated in the ROM may also be considered acceptable, namely that the price quotation of a foreign company should be at least 10% lower than the offer of a domestic manufacturer, and in the case of a customer's decision to buy OVT on import in the presence of a domestic sample of OVT ( armaments), comparative tests of such armaments and military equipment shall be compulsory. At the same time, it cannot be ruled out that "certain forces" can make an effort to make imports in the final version of the "Defense Procurement" ROM.
Intelligence ROM. On January 16, draft law No. 2412-e was adopted at first reading. Despite the (generally fair) criticism of the country's overly discreet intelligence on the part of the country's top political leadership, the Intelligence ROM has hit the spotlight. It is worth paying attention to the position of dt.ua columnist Volodymyr Kravchenko (January 27), who assures that the Intelligence Act does not save the intelligence itself, in particular, the NWR. According to him, the Foreign Intelligence Service "suffers from underfunding and staffing." Among the problematic issues, the expert identified that in the initial version of the bill, “the main counterintelligence body of Ukraine - the SBU - was in fact offered to return the right to intelligence. Which would mean such a concentration of powers that no body in Ukraine has. This can pose a serious threat to the rights and freedoms of citizens. In addition, the combination of intelligence and counterintelligence in one body is contrary to the practices of many countries in the world. However, now the role of the operational units of the central office of the SBU has been reduced to conducting intelligence activities in the interests of counterintelligence. " This state of affairs is indicative of the entire security and defense sector - it testifies to the complexity of resolving sensitive issues and finding compromises that significantly, but not definitively, change the situation in the security and defense sector.
Of course, too little time has elapsed since the new government began to work out the results of state reform. At the same time, it can already be said that the authorities are sincerely trying to change Ukraine. At the same time, it faces a number of risks, among which, against the backdrop of the Putin Kremlin unfolding, remains the problem of personnel selection, particularly in the national security and defense sector. From the very beginning, President Zelensky put the supremacy of personal trust above the ideology of professionalism of management. Which, on the one hand, has the right to life, given the ability of any person to learn. On the other hand, it creates a certain amount of risks on the way to mastering the business for which one or another appointee is taken.
Also, by the end of January, a rather symptomatic statement by the head of state appeared: “Many more personnel changes are waiting for the current government until an ideal team is formed”. These words are a reflection of the current real situation around state building.
Director of the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Research (CDACR)