In 1991, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ukraine gained capable army with a relatively modern armament and developed infrastructure: about one million military servicemen, more than twenty thousand of land-based units and more than ten thousand air force equipment, a separate air defense army, as well as its own nuclear weapons. Thus, Ukraine became the third most powerful nuclear country in the world after Russia and the United States. Ukraine had 176 intercontinental ballistic missiles, more than 2.5 thousand units of tactical nuclear weapons, and dozens of strategic bombers. Except that the suitcase with the red button was in Moscow, but the Ukrainian government could solve the problem.
In 1995, after the division of the Black Sea Fleet of the USSR, Ukraine received about 18% of its capacity.
Thus, only 25 years ago, Ukraine had one of the strongest armies in the world and could adequately respond to any external threat. At the same time, this was also the problem: the million strong army was simply unnecessary for the young state, which has chosen the path of democratic values. Moreover, it was an incredible economic burden. Also, none of the superstates wanted a new competitor: after the Cold War, the world took an official course on disarmament. Ukraine has fulfilled its part of the deal – disarmament and the surrender of nuclear weapons – unlike Russia and the United States. In the coming years, other countries have only increased their military potential.
On December 5, 1994, the President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma and the Presidents of the United States, Britain and Russia signed the Budapest Memorandum on Ukraine’s non-nuclear status. Under this document, the parties promised to respect the independence, sovereignty, and borders of Ukraine; refrain from threats or use of force, do not use any weapons against Ukraine, refrain from economic pressure, do not use nuclear weapons against Ukraine, and pursue urgent assistance from the UN Security Council in the event of Ukraine being subjected to military aggression. Ukraine, in its turn, refused not only to manufacture, use and store nuclear weapons in its territory, but also to withdraw from membership in any military bloc. This beautiful and important step as a symbol of improvement of relations between nations was made in exchange for peace guarantees for our country, destroyed by Russia 23 years later.
The non-nuclear status of Ukraine remains unchanged. In March 2016, President Petro Poroshenko confirmed the chosen course. As for the regular army, by 2014, there were at least three attempts to create a professional army. However, the reforms each time ended with a delay or termination of their implementation due to lack of funding. A full-fledged contract army was never created, the new military equipment was not procured in sufficient quantity, the old ones were wearing out, and educational institutions were closing. Due to the corruption and low discipline in the unstable system, the level of trust and the status of servicemen were on the downward trend. Young Ukrainians began to massively avoid military conscription, which became a national trend. The reluctance to serve in the Armed Forces of Ukraine created another possibility for the growth of corruption in all related areas: from public administration to medical institutions.
It came to the point that in October 2013 the then President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, completely canceled the conscription from 2014, in accordance with the State Program on Armed Forces reform until 2017, which provided for another attempt to create a contract army. The regular army was actually repealed.
Following the annexation of the Crimea, already in April 2014, the decisions that led to the loss of the Ukrainian Army’s combat readiness were transferred to the General Prosecutor’s Office, the military service was restored, and the program of the previous reform was canceled.
With the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, it became clear that the army was absolutely not ready to protect the borders of the state and its citizens from the military aggression of Russia.
The spontaneous recovery and maintenance of the Ukrainian Army began with the Revolution of Dignity, and to a large extent remains a merit of a large-scale volunteer movement. In May 2015, the founder of the “People’s Project” platform, the Coordinator of the Volunteer Council at the Ministry of Defense, David Arakhamia, stated that 14,500 volunteers and more than 2.5 thousand organizations are constantly helping the army.
In March 2015, the law “On Volunteer Activity” was adopted, legalizing fundraising by volunteers, in particular for the needs of the army.
At the beginning of December 2014, GfK Ukraine conducted a study on the state of the volunteer movement in Ukraine. It turned out that 62% of Ukrainians recognize the role of volunteers in last year’s political changes, 85% believe that volunteering helps to strengthen peace, and 81% of people tend to consider volunteering as an obligatory part of civil society.
According to Vitalii Deineha, head of the volunteer group “Come Back Alive”, volunteers raised more than a billion hryvnias for the needs of the military during two years of the war (as of April 2016). The fundraising through SMS-service 565, which lasted until October 2015 (the message to this number cost UAH 5), brought the Ministry of Defense UAH 38.8 million. And the war tax (1.5%), which is collected since August 2014, amounted to almost UAH 14 billion.
Also, from the beginning of the conflict, there are public organizations active in assisting the IDPs, providing psychological support to the soldiers, taking care of the wounded, the disabled, and families left without breadwinner because of hostilities, organizing searches for the deceased and helping to exchange captives.
Volunteers work in close collaboration with the new government: in October 2015, the Council of Volunteers was created under the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. By the presidential decree, the council was given the right to dispose of budget funds for the financial support of the army. Also, participants of volunteer movement joined the Reform Project Office, established in 2016 under the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
The biggest volunteer organizations and associations: “People’s rear”, “Come Back Alive”, “Wings of Phoenix”, “Army SOS”.
Since the beginning of hostilities, about 100 thousand volunteers have joined the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, reported Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak in March 2017. This significantly influenced the composition of the troops and the attitude of the civilian. Serving in the army became honorable, in a short time, the ordinary warrior became the hero of Ukrainian society.
Thus, the new reform of the Ukrainian Army began spontaneously, not by the adoption of a new doctrine, but with the Revolution of Dignity and the creation of volunteer battalions to participate in military actions in the east.
Officially, the reform of the Armed Forces of Ukraine began with the adoption of a number of key documents: National Security Strategies (May 2015), Military Doctrine (September 2015) and the Strategic Defense Bulletin (May 2016).
The objectives of the new reform in the main State documents
National Security Strategy of Ukraine:
Restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine. For this purpose, powerful Armed Forces of Ukraine equipped with modern weapons and military equipment, as well as other effective intelligence, counterintelligence, and law enforcement agencies should be created.
Creation of an effective security and defense sector by improving legislation, effective centralized management, upgrading the state system of strategic planning, introduction of an integrated system of education and training, improvement of budgetary policy, improvement of the system of democratic civil control, strengthening of parliamentary control, development of the system of military patriotic education.
Increase the state’s defense capability. First of all it is modernization and priority development of the defense-industrial complex, the production of competitive weapons and military equipment, import substitution and increase of own production of critical components and materials; deepening of cooperation with other states, first of all NATO member states, the EU; achievement of full independence from Russia in terms of the production of military equipment; actual defense reform and creation of a powerful military-trained reserve.
According to the Strategy in the medium-term perspective, the Armed Forces of Ukraine will be staffed on a fixed principle with the gradual increase of the contractual component of the army. The Strategy also provides for the creation of a Military Police and the transfer of majority law enforcement functions from the Security Service of Ukraine to law-enforcement agencies, except for combating crimes against the basis of national security.
To deprive the Ministry of Internal Affairs of unusual control and permissive functions and turn it into a civil central executive authority.
Give more rights and responsibilities to the National Guard to increase its capabilities for providing public safety and supporting the operations of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in a crisis environment.
Develop the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine as a military formation.
Create a State Bureau of Investigation responsible for conducting criminal investigations.
Reform the prosecutor’s office in accordance with the norms and standards of the European Union.
Reform the system of public administration with the new quality of anti-corruption policy.
Reach the full compatibility of the security and defense sectors with the relevant structures of NATO member states and ensure the future NATO membership.
The top priority of Ukraine’s foreign policy, according to the document, is the strategic partnership with the USA as a guarantor of international security in the Euro-Atlantic area by Ukraine-US Charter on Strategic Partnership of December 19, 2008.
The Strategy is the main document for the strategic planning, on the basis of which all other papers in the field of national security protection are developed.
Military doctrine of Ukraine:
Repulse the armed aggression of the Russian Federation.
Ensure the defense capability of Ukraine.
Ukraine’s participation in the implementation of the common security and defense policy of the European Union.
Decent perception of Ukraine at the international level.
Compliance with the criteria for EU and NATO membership.
Eliminate illegal Armed Groups.
Restore the credibility of military service.
Provide social guarantees to servicemen.
Improve state information policy.
Increase the effectiveness of the domestic military-industrial complex.
In the face of the real threat of aggression, preservation of mixed principle of manning the Armed Forces of Ukraine with a gradual increase in the number of soldiers serving under the contract.
Integration of volunteer formations into the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the National Guard.
Prevention of new armed conflicts, systemic strengthening of the national defense capability, increase of Ukraine’s role and image on the international stage.
Maintaining the level of defense capacity, which, alongside with taking the full advantage of the opportunities for peaceful settlement of interstate controversies, will correspond to the level of military threats and will ensure military-strategic parity in the region.
Restoration of military infrastructure, redeployment of military units and defense forces, taking into account the strengthening of the permanent military presence in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine.
The Strategic Defense Bulletin is a roadmap for the reform based on the Military Doctrine and in line with the objectives of Ukraine to meet NATO requirements.
Military budget of Ukraine
In 2015, the provisions of the National Security Strategy of Ukraine and the Military Doctrine of Ukraine provided for the annual allocation of budget funds of at least 5% of GDP to finance the security and defense sector, including at least 3% of GDP for defense. In previous years this indicator was as follows:
2004 – 1.8% of GDP (UAH 6 billion)
2005 – 1.4% (UAH 6 billion)
2006 – 1.2% (UAH 6 billion)
2007 – 1.3% (UAH 9 billion)
2008 – 1.2% (UAH 12 billion)
2009 – 1.1% (UAH 10 billion)
2010 – 1% (UAH 11 billion)
2011 – 1% (UAH 13 billion)
2012 – 1% (UAH 14 billion)
2013 – 1% (UAH 15 billion)
2014 – 1.7% (UAH 27 billion)
2015 – 2.6% (UAH 52 billion)
2016 – 2.5% (UAH 59 billion)
2017 – 2.7% (UAH 69 billion)
Authorities responsible for the reform implementation:
President of Ukraine as the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, which is responsible for coordination and monitoring of the activities of executive bodies in the field of national security and defense.
The Ministry of Defense and the General Staff of the Armed Forces. According to the Euro-Atlantic norms and standards, the duplication of functions of these bodies will be excluded by 2018.
Also, by 2020, it is planned to establish separate positions “The Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine” and “Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”
The current situation
According to the Strategy for Sustainable Development “Ukraine-2020”, the reform of the national security and defense system is of paramount importance. Since the beginning of hostilities in the east, 2,629 servicemen were killed (officially). More than 600 thousand people were forced to abandon their homes and leave the war zone in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and about 20 thousand – from Crimea and Sevastopol.
Therefore, the situation requires strong and urgent action from the Ukrainian government.
The system changes began with the introduction of the three-level command system of the Armed Forces of Ukraine: General Staff, Cross-sectoral Institutions’ Management and Military Unit Command. These changes helped to manage army administration.
There is a gradual increase in the technical base. In 2015, under the state defense orders, the army received 1711 units of weapons and equipment, more than 400 thousand units of missiles and ammunition. In 2016, the State Concern “Ukroboronprom” handed over to army more than 6,200 units of military equipment.
At the beginning of 2017, a record number of military contractors were registered in Ukraine – more than 70 thousand people.
In order to get rid of corruption in the system of government orders, the Ministry of Defense uses the electronic procurement system from 2015. Also, some success had been achieved in the reform of the food supply of the army: in October 2016 a new concept of the food system was developed. So far, it has been experimentally introduced only in two military units. The gradual transition to a new food system is scheduled for 2017-2020.
The number of training operations and joint training of Ukrainian military personnel with servicemen of other countries and NATO has significantly increased.
Since 2014, the number of the military has been increased to 250 thousand people. According to the international rating Global Firepower-2016, Ukraine ranked 30th in the world and 8th in Europe in terms of military power. According to this rating, Russia ranks 2nd in the world.
In 2016, Ukraine has risen in the overall ranking of militarization from the 23rd place in 2015 to the 15th. This is evidenced by the Global Militarization Index (GIM). Also, in 2016, Special Operations Forces and a training center were created.
Even today, Ukraine can independently supply the needs of the army by 40%, earlier this figure was 8-12%. And to a large extent – thanks to private companies. However, the government which monopolized the market is not interested in their development.
Hands-on management of the security sector is also a big problem. At the beginning of the war, this was well grounded. However, after three years of the war it only hinders the reform development, makes it almost impossible to resolve such issues as system rearmament and system military cooperation. This is a huge white spot that does not allow taking steps in all directions of the reform: the concept of the army, the defense industrial complex, military-technical cooperation.
Also, due to the lack of definition of the Army’s concept and refusal to create a professional army, we actually get a situation where the front-line troops almost do not receive modern weapons and do not have the proper social security. Considering that Ukraine embarks on the course of the creation of a Western-type army, this is unacceptable.
In order the reform actually took place, it is necessary to abandon the hands-on management and to adopt a number of laws, under which the defense-industrial complex will be developed, a system of rearmament will be created.
Despite the fact that all issues related to the development of the army and the defense industry have to be resolved by the Government, today they are taken outside the Government, where there is only one profile deputy minister of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade.
It is extremely important to eliminate the “Ukroboronprom” created by the team of former President Yanukovych, where managers hold two offices at the same time as officials and businessmen. This situation contributes to the fact that the contracts concluded are not advantageous to the army, but those which are beneficial to financial and industrial groups. It is necessary to change the situation with monopolization of the arms market, which prevents private companies from developing and attracting foreign investors.
The reform is also significantly hampered by the lack of parliamentary and public control.
According to the new Military Doctrine of Ukraine, adopted in September 2015, Ukraine will deepen its cooperation with NATO to achieve full compatibility with the Alliance’s forces. This means that for now Ukraine retains its non-aligned status and focuses on creating conditions for membership in the future. The active process of training and exchange of experience between Ukrainian and NATO military is underway.
According to a survey conducted by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology at the end of 2016, the church and volunteers are the most trusted among Ukrainians: 57.6% trust volunteers, 58.8% – the church. At the same time, the government has the confidence of 8.7% of citizens, the president – 16.8%, and the Ukrainian media – 32.3%.
The Attitude of the Ukrainian Population towards the entry of the state into NATO:
|2011.04||25 %||60%||IFAK Ukraine|
|2012.04||15 %||62%||“Democratic Initiatives” Foundation|
|2012.10||19 %||66%||Sociological group “Rating”|
|2012.12||15 %||60%||“Democratic Initiatives” Foundation|
|2013.10||20 %||66%||Sociological group “Rating”|
|2014.04||36 %||48%||“Razumkov Center” and sociological group “Rating”|
|2014.05||37 %||42%||“Razumkov Center”|
|2014.06||47 %||36%||Gorshenin Institute|
|2014.06||41 %||40%||“Razumkov Center”|
|2014.07||44 %||35%||Sociological group “Rating”|
|2014.09||44 %||—||The Democratic Initiatives Foundation together with Kyiv International Institute of Sociology|
|2014.10||53 %||34%||Gorshenin Institute|
|2014.11||51 %||25%||Sociological group “Rating”|
|2015.03||43 %||33%||Kyiv International Institute of Sociology|
|2015.03||43 %||31%||“Razumkov Center”|
|2015.03||47 %||29%||Sociological group “Rating”|
|2015.05||37 %||36%||Kyiv International Institute of Sociology|
|2015.06||53 %||32%||Pew Research Center|
|2015.06||41 %||30%||International Republican Institute|
|2015.08||64 %||28%||“Democratic Initiatives” Foundation together with “Razumkov Center”|
|2016.05-06||44 %||38%||Kyiv International Institute of Sociology|
|2017.06||43%||30%||Sociological group “Rating”|
October 2013 – cancellation of the conscription in accordance with the new State Program for the reform of the Army until 2017
March 2014 – National Guard of Ukraine was re-established – military formation with law enforcement functions (established in 1991, disbanded in 2000)
April 2014 – the conscription was renewed, and the previous reform of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was canceled
August 2014 – a nationwide military revenue of 1.5% of personal income was introduced. Taxation will be continued until the decision of the Verkhovna Rada on the completion of the reform of the Armed Forces of Ukraine comes into force.
February 2014 – the Ministry of Defense has started a fundraising campaign for the needs of the army “Support the army, save the country: call 565”
March 2015 – The Law “On Volunteer Activity” was adopted
May 2015 – The National Security Strategy was adopted
September 2015 – A New Military Doctrine was adopted
October 2015 – A Volunteer Council was created at the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine
May 2016 – The Project Office of Reforms under the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine was established, the Strategic Defense Bulletin was adopted
October 2016 – the structure of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine was changed, which allowed to renovate the management of the department and bring it closer to NATO standards
February 2017 – President P. Poroshenko has promised UAH 9 billion to finance the development and purchase of new weapons and military equipment for the Ukrainian Army in 2017
March 2017 – the law “On the Unified State Register of Persons liable for military service” was adopted, which would prevent evasion from the call.