Dmitry Tymchuk, Information Resistance
March 14, 2014
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine
On the question of – who is to blame?
Admiral Tenyuh, head of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, made a statement that the Ukrainian ground forces only have 6,000 combat-ready servicemen. That information came as a shock. Next, came a question – who is responsible for the fact that a state whose army was almost 800,000 strong in 1991, turned out to be one of the most helpless states in the world in 2014 (in terms of the ratio of combat-ready servicemen to total population)?
Let’s try to analyze this. In October of 1991, the Verkhovna Rada [Ukrainian Parliament] set the prospective size of the army and the Navy at 450,000 people. This amounted to 1% of the population – according to international standards, this is the upper threshold, after which the army becomes a burden on the economy.
This was the number specified for Ukraine in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE). According to this document, Ukraine can have: 450,000 personnel of the Armed Forces; 4,080 tanks (3,130 in active units); 5,050 armed combat vehicles (4,350 in active units); 4,040 artillery cannons, caliber over 100 mm (3,240 in active units); 330 strike helicopters; and 1,080 combat planes.
With proper military training, this is a force to be reckoned with, as far as a European country goes. This is also a force that can withstand the Russian aggression (here, we apply the Military Arithmetic 101, which states that the number of attackers for a successful offense must be at least three times the number of defenders; these are tried and true military norms).
However, by 2000 (tenure of President Kuchma), our army had dwindled to 310,000. And it kept going down, up until the Russian invasion in late February 2014.
Does this mean that the people responsible are all presidents, starting from Kuchma, and all ministers of defense under those presidents?
Not quite. Kuchma was the first president to declare Ukraine’s intention to join NATO. This direction was also supported by President Yuschenko, from his first day as President to his last. Membership in NATO means guarantees of common security (Article 5 of the Washington [North Atlantic] Treaty). It means that the army does not need to be huge and powerful – but compact and prepared to take part in multinational NATO operations. That was the kind of army Ukraine was, in fact building between 2002 and 2010.
However, the situation changed drastically in spring 2010, when [Victor] Yanukovych came to power. After first announcing that Ukraine would be a non-aligned state, this strategist started cutting the army further down, instead of quickly building it up (which would give Ukraine sufficient defense capability under the new conditions). As a result, today the ranks [of the Ukrainian army] count some 180,000 soldiers and officers. Considering the measly amount of financing allocated to combat training and technical re-equipment, a mere several thousand are combat-ready.
Therefore, direct responsibility for the current state of the army and Ukraine’s inability to defend itself lies with VFY [Victor Yanukovych], and his strategists [Mikhail] Yezhel, [Dmitry] Salamatin and [Pavel] Lebedev [Ministers of Defense of Ukraine between 2010 and 2014]. As well as the heads of the General Staff, who obediently managed this breakdown – among them the “failed hero” General [Volodymyr] Zamana.
None of this makes us feel better now, of course. But at least we know who must (and hopefully, will) be held responsible. They should know it as well.