While the coronavirus has been riveted by the attention of the world and the Ukrainian authorities, Ukrainian soldiers are killed every day on the eastern front by the Russians and their mercenaries. Many do not notice that in a pandemic, the war not only subsided, but also markedly gained momentum. Purposeful, systematically organized shootings of Ukrainian soldiers by snipers and PTKR calculations are intended to undermine the morale and morale of the army. It should be emphasized that since the beginning of 2020, there has been a deliberate hunt for military OOFs, with Russian militants choosing as targets of logistics vehicles or individual servicemen - the task of destroying as many people as possible is underway.. It is worth mentioning that during his visit to Kiev, American General Wesley Clark (the one who at one time commanded NATO forces in Kosovo and headed the Allied Headquarters of Europe) in communication at the beginning of the Russian war with experts said that for Ukraine in the war of low intensity become critical of the loss of about a dozen soldiers each month. In Ukraine, over the last three months, the casualties have reached almost one and a half dozen military per month - the same OOS has crossed a critical boundary requiring a real revision of the defense formula.. Both in the use of weapons and in the field of rapid rearmament. We will not conclude how far the Kremlin manages to influence the level of morale of the army (since the beginning of the year, 42 soldiers were killed in the Donbass, 2019 thousand people escaped from the conscription in 245), but there is something to think about.
In addition, in the second half of March, there were some events that should set the army and the public on a long-running fight against another virus, the Kremlin. Because Putin's enemy has actually reigned in the Kremlin by 2036. In this connection there is no doubt that attempts to escalate the war, unless Russia absorbs the gloom of the economic crisis or resolves the “Ukrainian issue” politically, will be. In addition, speaking at the board of the Ministry of Defense on March 22, the head of the Defense Ministry of the Russian Federation, Sergei Shoigu, said that by the end of 2020 in the Southern military district - that is near the borders with Ukraine - two new missile crews and a rifle division will be created.
But, unfortunately, it must be admitted that the work of the authorities on strategic issues today, when not paralyzed, is moving far beyond the expected pace. By the way, by June 10 the main document Ukraine is preparing for the first time in its history - the State Defense Plan - should appear. However there is a risk that the “human factor”, together with the pandemic, may nullify promising intentions in the field of defense construction.
It is quite symptomatic that it was against this background that there were signs of a deep crisis in the new government. The first clear sign was the release of Sivokho from the NSDC and the scandal over the corruption of President Ermak's brother, the head of the Office. There is no doubt that they are indirect, but they are connected with the agreements signed on March 11 in Minsk on the creation of a body that actually captures the subjectivity of the ORDL. It should be emphasized that a significant part of Ukrainian society has expressed outrage over the implementation of such agreements, which will in fact change the format of the negotiations and remove Russia from the level of the conflict participant to the observer level. Experts associate their appearance with the personal vision of the process of reaching the state of peace by the chairman of the OPC Andriy Yermak. Even in the presidential faction "Servant of the People", the attitude towards the "Ermak Plan" is ambiguous. Thus, the People's servant People's Deputy and at the same time the head of the Ukrainian delegation in PACE Elizabeth Yasko called the new Minsk arrangements of the OPU head Andrei Ermak a trap and urged official Kyiv not to sign the document on the creation of the Consultative Council with the representatives of the ORDL.
The development of a crisis of power has intensified and activated the coronavirus. Namely, in the conditions of the state's salvation, President Zelensky had to go into a hidden conflict with the oligarchs - in the course of passing notorious laws on the non-return of bankrupt banks and the land market. Although both have been endorsed by the Council since March, they have shown the weakness of the presidential power in the face of quiet resistance by the oligarchs. Thus, the price of the votes cast for the president was the confrontation with Igor Kolomoisky and the real collapse of the monopoly power, which Zelensky so proud of (as is known, none of the critical decisions on March 30 was voted on by the presidential faction "Servant of the People" by itself.
This situation significantly affects the potential of Ukraine in the fight against the main enemy of statehood and independence - Russia. It creates conditions for the Kremlin not only for additional manipulation, but also for active actions inside Ukraine - both political and sabotage, terrorist. The overall conclusion of the state of the security environment around Ukraine indicates that the country has become a more vulnerable target for external influences.
International events and challenges for Ukraine
The coronavirus, like all crises, appeared suddenly and timely. Already, at the end of March, as China reported a pandemic, experts began actively discussing the likely negative effects. The vast majority of estimates indicate a high likelihood of dramatic changes in the world and a number of negative forecasts for Ukraine. “The EU is inevitably weak. In the EU, centrifugal trends will increase and localization will begin… The European Union will not be able to remain in its present form after the current shock… In the US, in fact, they default, they cannot service their national debt. And so, the US is no longer the engine of world development, ”Oleg Soskin, political scientist and director of the Institute for Transformation of the Society, made the prediction. Such assessments claim some generalization, including the negative effects of changes in the EU, NATO and other international structures. For Ukraine, almost all possible scenarios are challenges, and their study, research and preparatory steps would be reasonable.
On the other hand, Covid-19 has opened up new opportunities for influencing the Western world. Russia, which itself suffers severely from the pandemic, nevertheless tries to use the coronavirus for its political purposes (confirming, among other things, that the value of human life in the Russian Federation is worth little). For example, experts are convinced that the Kremlin conducted a series of information and psychological operations in Italy. Even according to the Italian media, by providing assistance, Russia is guided by far from the only humanitarian motives, but pursues its own political and diplomatic interests. According to Italian journalists, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has agreed to accept Russia's assistance for "strengthening excellent personal relations" with Moscow. The naked eye can see how the Russian Federation is trying to reach from Italy the same loyalty and level of cooperation it has achieved in relations with Turkey - amid a political earthquake inside NATO. It is significant that Moscow has gone even further - sending humanitarian aid to the United States to fight the coronavirus. And President Trump called Russia's actions "very kind." This landmark political move is unlikely to change the Russian-American model of modern relations, especially as many political scientists believe: because of Trump's own irresponsible stance on the Coronavirus as a politician, he is coming to the bottom. It is symptomatic that it was on the last day of March that information was released about the first pandemic of the US military (as of March 30, 569 US servicemen were infected with a coronavirus).
Of the news that can be considered positive for Ukraine is the statement by NATO's Commander-in-Chief on March 30. "We need to strengthen Ukraine's Armed Forces as much as possible," said Supreme Commander-in-Chief NATO Joint Forces in Europe, General Curtis Scarprotti. In response to a question from Republican Senator James Ingoff about whether he agrees that the United States should give Ukraine a lethal thrust, Curtis Scarparrotti said the Ukrainians were fighting hard, calling them disciplined warriors. "They are opposed to the so-called separatists, who are, in fact, Russian heirs. Russia is supplying them with lethal weapons and is also trying out some new military methods there, ”General Scarparrotti said..
In addition, the Commander-in-Chief of the NATO Joint Force in Europe acknowledged that “in Ukraine, the Russians are to some extent doing what they did in Syria. This is to use the Ukrainian conflict as a test ground for testing their latest technology and methods. Among them, what you have mentioned is the reduction of time between when a target is detected and when it can be hit, in particular using drones. " It is important that US military managers recognize not only the Kremlin's most destructive mission in the territory of Ukraine, but also determine the specific actions of Russian militants. They also determine the level of threat to themselves. “This is a problem for the USA as well. After all, other terrorists are beginning to apply these methods to some extent. We are working on these technologies. Working with Ukraine also gives us the opportunity to test some of the things we do. We need to provide them with early warning systems and the like so that they can counteract what the Russian henchmen are doing, ”General Curtis Scarparrotti said at a hearing at the Senate Committee.
It is also interesting that a week before the hearings of the Secretary-General of the Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, at the presentation of the annual report, stated that "Russia's aggressive actions in Ukraine, in particular destabilizing military behavior and the use of hybrid tactics, adversely affect international security."
Challenges within Ukraine
Due to the crisis caused by the coronavirus, Ukraine has already entered the forefront of a marked economic downturn. In particular, according to the European Business Association (Day, March 26), almost half of the companies (48%) have already recorded between 20% and 50% of revenue losses. Another 16% decided to change staff salaries, and 14% decided to cut staff. Therefore, it may also have a significant negative impact on the activities of the defense companies of the country. Despite President Zelensky's assurances that there will be no cuts in state defense orders (DOS), it is already clear at the beginning of April: not all of those who hoped to work on defense will receive contracts from customers within DOS-20. This becomes a very important and dangerous challenge not only for the enterprises themselves, but also for the process of re-equipping the state defense forces. Among other things, it requires from the customers, and especially from the Ministry of Defense, prompt response and probably certain revision of the contents of the DOS-20. Especially against the background that Presidential Decree No. 5920 of February 27 approved only main indicators DOS-20, the rest should be finalized in the process, ie today.
Despite the devastating coronavirus, it is important for the military-political leadership of the state to immediately focus on the preparation of the Defense Plan of Ukraine. For the first time in its history, a document that Ukraine has to create should bring together all the main indicators. To integrate economic, infrastructural, purely military, information-psychological and many other possibilities into a single plane. Just like in the face of an epidemic, everything must be based on a precise mathematical calculation: for what period of time, by what forces and means the enemy can inflict such losses that he refuses from further aggression. Including the calculation of the use of asymmetric capabilities, “human factor” potential, new military and dual-use technologies. Including the calculation of what means are used at the stage of deployment of the enemy (and at what depth of the turret, that is, advance strikes on its territory!), Which are on the line 100–50–20–5 km. And, of course, solving the problems of coordination of all structures of the defense forces, including public-private interaction.
Another major problem is the development of motivation for service in the Armed Forces, other armed forces of the state and the conscious participation of Ukrainians in the development of the territorial defense system. The development of a realistic “motivational package” for military personnel, as in 2014-2015, remains extremely relevant.
Some steps have already been taken in this direction. Yes, March 23 The Verkhovna Rada has registered a number of bills aimed at increasing the level of social protection of war veterans and combatants. In particular, on consideration of Parliament: draft Law on Amendments to the Law of Ukraine "On the Status of War Veterans, Guarantees of their Social Protection" on Increasing the Level of Social Protection of War Veterans "(Reg. No. 3228); Draft Law on Amendments to Article 23 of the Law of Ukraine "On Compulsory State Social Insurance against Unemployment" to increase the amount of unemployment assistance for participants of the Anti-terrorist operation and other war veterans (Reg. No. 3249); Draft Resolution “On Preventing the Stop of the Operation of Veterans Hospitals during the Implementation of the Second Stage of Medical Reform” (Reg. No. 3235). The adoption of the bills will help solve the problems that exist in the field of health care for war veterans and combatants, as well as increase their level of social protection during unemployment. However, in view of the epidemic, the prospects for adopting these ROMs and for promoting other motivational development decisions remain uncertain. In this regard, it should be emphasized that the coronavirus epidemic should not stop the preparation of the state and the entire nation for resistance to the enemy, which has intensified the comprehensive preparation for the destruction of the Ukrainian statehood.
Director of the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Research (CDACR)