"During the bombing of an infantry fighting vehicle near the Crimean region in Lugansk, the commander of a mechanized platoon of the battalion of the 93rd separate mechanized brigade" Cold Yar "of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Lieutenant Dmitry Firsov. This is a message dated March 7th. The next day, March 8, fighting began near the airport near the village of Pisky, which lasted for several days: the Armed Forces lost two trucks and killed three people. Such reports, albeit different in the frontline but similar to the fatal outcome, have increased significantly in recent times. And official Kiev says its intention to reach peace ...
"Unfortunately, it should be noted that the activity of the enemy is largely explained by the sharp reduction in the number of combat outputs of special forces and snipers, the reduction in the number of combat missions for the use of guided missiles, mortars, artillery, and it happened in accordance with the decisions of the president," - wrote March 12 Censor.NET editor Yuri Butusov, after confirming the existing contradiction between the official position and the real state of things in the war.
Thus, although the coronavirus seems to have captured all the attention of society, one cannot fail to notice the fact that Russia has expanded its arsenal of aggression against Ukraine by choosing a combined version of the realization of its invasive interests. On the one hand, the Russian military and Kremlin-led units of mercenaries not only reduced but also increased efforts in the Donbass - their main goal is to reduce the morale of the Ukrainian defense forces as a result of the constant killings of the military. It can be argued that it is the quiet, consistent and systematic killings of the military that have become a key challenge for the whole Ukrainian society, including the current government.
Against this background, the process of negotiation and the emergence of new challenges are expanding through the involvement of leaders of terrorist organizations. Creation and design of the so-called Advisory Board, within which the actual dialogue of Ukrainian officials and representatives of LNR will take place/DNR observers have already called the move toward recognizing pro-Russian terrorist structures and Russia's status in the war. This challenge is so powerful that it can lead to extremely dangerous shifts in society, including open resistance to power.
Another political irritation emerged in March, which could translate into an additional challenge. It is about Putin's actual proposal to have one of the leaders of the pro-Russian OPHZ Party Viktor Medvedchuk as a communicator between him and President Zelensky. Military-political blackmail, with Zelensky's consent, could cost him a large part of the rating and even turn into a wedge between the authorities and society.
By the way, according to the intelligence department of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine (March 3, 87), the grouping of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation along the state border of Ukraine in the temporarily occupied territory in Donetsk, Luhansk regions and Crimea is about 90-1100 thousand troops. These include 2500 tanks, 1600 armored combat vehicles, 340 artillery and missile systems, 240 combat aircraft and 50 combat helicopters, more than 6 ships / boats and XNUMX submarines.
Risks for Ukraine in the International Arena
One of the most significant events of the first half of March was the collapse of the energy markets that experts associate with Saudi Arabia and the US. This, in the opinion of some profile experts, can significantly destabilize the situation in Russia. If the results of deliberate manipulation of oil prices and the exchange rate are successful, it can lead to the displacement of Russia from the world energy market. And as a result, it is noticeable to influence the positions of the Russian authorities.
Incidentally, in Russia itself recorded the infallibility of the power of the current head of state. Namely, on March 10, by the decision of the State Duma, Vladimir Putin was granted the right to become a lifelong president. Which is, to some extent, a landmark event, as Putin is a recognized Ukrainophobe and an enemy of the independent Ukrainian state.
At the beginning of March, positive news emerged for Kyiv from the US. Namely, on March 7, the Pentagon announced plans to put $ 125 million in additional weapons on Ukraine, including armed military patrol boats. A few days earlier, Washington announced that the United States would allocate $ 38 million to Ukraine. to enhance cybersecurity (over the next four years).
The United States also called on the world community to impose sanctions on Russia (March 7). And three days before, German Defense Minister Annegret Crump-Carrenbauer announced the possibility of applying sanctions against Russia to end hostilities in Syria.
Another event has to be analyzed by the security structures of Ukraine. Thus, six EU countries have established cybernetic forces (May 5): Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Croatia, the Netherlands and Romania have signed an agreement to create a Cybernetic Rapid Response Force. The issue of cyber defense is thus becoming a feature of the global trend. For Ukraine, this aspect is even more relevant, as under certain conditions domestic capabilities could turn into one of the levers of asymmetric weapons and deter the Russian aggressor..
Also interesting were the results of the primaries (March 4) in 14 US states, where former Vice President Joe Biden emerged as the Democrat leader, though the fight against Bernie Sanders is still ahead. For Ukraine, the likely change of president in the United States remains relevant and important, not only for bilateral cooperation but also for NATO leadership, which has in fact been undermined by unpredictable Trump.
Challenges within Ukraine
On March 11, a new Minister of War was introduced in Ukraine, who gave encouraging signals to troops and members of the military and military sector in his speech, “The Armed Forces need technological modernization and transition to modern weapons systems using the latest technologies. We need a thoughtful weapons development program, not a haphazard purchase for patching old holes, ”Andrei Taran said during the presentation.
Another event - the appearance of President Zelensky's decree # 5920 (of February 27, 2020) - needs some rethinking and support, first of all, from the public. The CDAC has already stated that the decree could actually be the basis for the creation of a new ideology of rearmament of the defense forces and, eventually, of the transformation of the national army and defense industry. But that may not happen - the "human factor" in Ukraine quite often crosses out promising endeavors.
In this regard, the CSTAC announced its own disclaimers, which are seen as key.
The first is organizational, because this is where it all begins. The same goes for ways of organizing the functioning of the defense industry and creating mechanisms for technology development. It is worth recalling the most significant positions for the development of the country's defense potential. This is the creation of a targeted State Fund for the development of the defense-industrial complex of Ukraine; creation of defense technology development agency; creation of a central executive body (CEB) responsible for the formation and implementation of the state military-industrial policy and functions for managing state-owned objects in the defense-industrial complex; and the development of a military-technical cooperation (PTS) strategy.
Formally, now the CEB exists - its functions are entrusted to the profile department of the Ministry of Economic Development, headed by a deputy minister, that is, not a member of the government. Unfortunately, since the decree's appearance, the long-awaited appointment of a profile deputy prime minister has not taken place, as there has been no determination that the creation of a central executive body is the creation of a new ministry. The logical step to strengthen the defense-industrial component in this way would be to determine that the Vice Prime Minister would also be the Minister of such a Ministry - for the defense industry. After all, the Ministry of Public Procurement should coordinate the activities of 16 contracting authorities. So now the initial data already carry significant risks of non-compliance with the provisions of the decree of the head of state, at least in a timely manner.
In order to actually implement such revolutionary and large-scale changes, we obviously need to resort to unconventional decisions. In particular, to decide to create a designated ministry on the basis of the existing profile of the Ministry of Economic Development - by removing it from the Ministry of Economic Development. The next step is to urgently address personnel issues, first of all, regarding the Deputy Prime Minister - Minister of the Ministry of Defense Industry. And also - the head defense technology development agencies, which should also be subject to the profile of the Deputy Prime Minister through the said Ministry. As well as fulfilling the tasks of solving the economic issues of the PTC, for example, in the field of setting up joint ventures with foreign countries. This approach would save time and complete organizational and administrative tasks by the end of this year.
The second is the need to adjust the ideology of rearmament when creating new programs for the development of the Armed Forces, OVCs and OPCs, or extending the implementation of the developed programs (in particular, ensuring that the State Targeted Defense Program for the Development of Armaments and Military Equipment is updated to 2024 within a three-month period 2022).
The President of Ukraine has taken a very significant step - he changed the decision of the Ministry of Defense regarding the financing of missile programs exclusively for the budget. For the expert environment, there are two signals: that, first, the DOS is formed without proper external expertise, and therefore there can be serious error decisions; and second, that it is not a shame to make mistakes. At the same time, there must be a conclusion for military managers. Namely, if society does not claim knowledge of covert defense procurement (DOS), then at least it needs to clearly identify and follow the priorities of rearmament.
About the priorities themselves. In the context of a very rapid transformation of wars and hostilities, Ukraine, which has a significant scarcity of resources, should finance the production of, above all, those weapons that it will be ready to use in this war today. And only in the second place - in the long run. To do this, you must respond to events immediately. For example, according to Erdogan, eight tanks of Armor were destroyed by the Turkish Tanks. In turn, the Russian Federation states that since the beginning of the year, due to the use of EW funds, first of all, the Krasukha (and Tu-214R) reconnaissance complexes have destroyed about 20 Turkish drones since the beginning of the year. However, most likely somewhere in the middle. But it is impossible to ignore the increase in cases of use of Russian drones and mercenaries on the Donbass, the near constant deaths of Ukrainian soldiers and officers.
It would be logical to get an answer to the question: when and how Ukraine plans to use a corvette, which is going to spend $ 250 million? When and how tactical aviation will be deployed, which can spend 15-20% of the total defense budget on modernization. The CDAC is not against such projects, but for a reasonable redistribution within the rapid response to the changes of the modern world of war.
In mid-2019, the CDAC and the WIBD insisted that the creation of strike aviation complexes (BACs) and shock ground-based unmanned platforms (ie, combat robots) would become one of the five priority rearmament programs. Other promising programs are: EWB and EER, automation and communications, and rocket programs directly. Yes, the development of Silent Thunder is still underway, but it is an effort of a private enterprise. And in February 2020 (27.02.20/XNUMX/XNUMX, Ukrinform), the CSTAC expert group directly called for the creation of units of shock tanks and ground-based robotic platforms. By now everyone has already waited that even Ilon Musk paid attention to unmanned aerial complexes and made conclusions about their advantages over modern fighters. Of course, these are not the tanks that are in Ukraine today and may appear in the near future. But also the shock tanks that were purchased in Turkey, and possibly those that could be produced in conjunction with Turkey.
Similarly, new programs must show the political will and leading role of the state. How to step up work on new defense technologies. So is the activation of alternative routes, in particular, the PTS. If, for example, Ukraine supplies engines for Turkey's new shock drone (Akinci), then why can't it claim to jointly manufacture such tanks and its own missiles? It will be cheaper for all participants, and such drones can be used from the first day they enter the troops.
Therefore, in the renewed ideology of rearmament, priorities should be formed with regard to two fundamental factors - the preservation of the lives of the Ukrainian military today, and the creation of a striking component of deterrence of external aggression - in the medium term..
Director of the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Research (CDACR)