Ukrainian civil society responded more readily to Putin’s invasion than the government

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2016/08/29 • Analysis & Opinion, Military analysis, Russia, Ukraine

Article by: Oleksandr Lashchenko

Interview with Ihor Koziy, military expert at the Institute of Euro-Atlantic Cooperation and Valentyn Badrak, Director of the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament

President Petro Poroshenko: Our enemy’s country is nine times larger than ours and has a military budget hundreds times greater than ours.

Our military parade is a signal to the enemy. Ukrainians are ready to continue fighting for their independence. That’s why the aggressor should remember the wise counsel of the Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky: “Comrades Muscovites! Don’t mess with Ukraine!”

– Mr. Koziy, do you really think Putin won’t dare challenge Ukraine again?

– I don’t think we’ve resolved all our problems just by staging a military parade or through our President’s tough speech. Do you actually believe Putin watched our parade, took fright and decided he’d not touch Ukraine ever again?

Definitely, not. We need to continue working and getting ready for other important and well-prepared actions by the Russian Federation.

– But, in fact, I think all skeptics – even in Russia – agree that there’s a big difference between Ukrainian Armed Forces in 2014 and now. In your opinion, how did this happen? Was it all made possible thanks to volunteers and volunteer soldiers? Or did the government, despite all its faults, also make a significant contribution to strengthening the defensive potential of our country?

– Let’s try to look at it from a different perspective.

First, don’t forget that it was the people of Ukraine that helped this country to survive. Ukrainians took up arms and went to defend their country; families sent their sons to the front lines when the army and its high command failed to do what they were supposed to do under the Constitution of Ukraine.

This is indeed our greatest victory over the Russian Federation. We should understand that we can rely only on ourselves, on our own strength and energy!

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As for other significant matters relating to our Armed Forces, I would probably add two more. The first point is related to the preparation of our troops and command headquarters, and the second point is linked to modern technology and weapons. But, the most important point is our government’s ability to quickly re-equip our army if our country is threatened.

– The Investigative Committee of Russia has announced that they are suing prominent Ukrainian servicemen, namely Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak, Chief of Staff Viktor Muzhenko and several others for allegedly “using illegal means and methods of warfare in southeastern Ukraine”. Mr. Koziy, what does all this mean?

– I think it’s just another “misunderstanding” on the part of the Russian Federation. It’s as if Ukraine were to initiate criminal proceedings against Russia for violating some international legislation somewhere in the Far East or Siberia.

What business does the Russian Federation have in our territories? Let’s try to look at the situation from that angle… If you’ve occupied our territory, then you’re obviously the invader. Therefore, we should demand that our government raise this issue and officially call Russia an aggressor state, an aggressor that has occupied part of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, an aggressor state that has occupied all of Crimea.

– Petro Poroshenko also said during a meeting with Ukrainian diplomats that the “Normandy format” to resolve the conflict in Donbas may be revived.

“My talks with Germany and France have given us reason to hope that the “Norman format” will soon be revived.” said Poroshenko.

Putin’s name was not mentioned. But, perhaps Poroshenko was thinking of the Putin who, after the so-called “sabotage incident” in occupied Crimea, announced that the “Normandy format” did not make sense. Mr. Koziy, what did Putin mean?

– In my opinion, it was a trite incident in Crimea as it sometimes happens in the military of some countries, especially those under a totalitarian regime. It’s when subordinate leaders do something, get scared and then try to blame someone else. Suddenly, they begin to understand what’s going on and that everyone already knows about it.

I think Chief of Staff Sergei Ivanov was dismissed when the FSB created this story about a Ukrainian sabotage group entering Crimea. The main purpose of the story was to justify the Russian victims during military exercises.

– Mr. Koziy, how will the situation develop? Autumn is coming… If Putin suddenly launches a full-scale offensive against Ukraine, the weather conditions may not be very favourable. Should we completely reject this option? Or is it realistic?

– You’re right. The question is not whether this is likely to happen or not. The question we need to ask ourselves is this: to what extent are we ready or not ready in case of a Russian offensive? Are we preparing for it?

We must all understand that Putin decided to seize Crimea because our army wasn’t ready to uphold Article 65 of the Constitution of Ukraine, namely to defend our homeland. That’s all there is to it! This state of affairs actually prompted Putin to act, encouraged him to invade and occupy. He thought this would continue, but the people of Ukraine responded more readily to to Putin’s invasion than our government.

– Mr, Koziy, just before the Day of the National Flag Petro Poroshenko declared that “it is our goal to raise the Ukrainian flag over Donetsk, Luhansk, Simferopol and Sevastopol”. Do you think it was just a rhetorical statement? Or, can Ukraine resume full control over the occupied territories?

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– That’s a difficult question, and we shouldn’t make predictions. It’s perfectly clear that we have a President, whose name we all know, and we had a preceding president, whose name we also all know, who actually surrendered part of Ukraine. Let’s leave it to the Prosecutor’s Office!

Now the question is whether the President and the government will act in order to return these occupied territories? The people elected and entrusted them with all the necessary powers. Therefore, we shouldn’t speculate, or stipulate, or imagine things… The question should be put in another way: we must ask this President what he did, why he did it, and in fact why these territories have not been reintegrated into Ukraine, or, conversely, thank him for restoring the integrity of our state.

This is most important because the irresponsibility that we’ve been seeing for two and a half years is just too much… Look, Ukrainians armed our soldiers, and the government disarmed them. Ukrainians did everything possible to keep Ukraine whole, united and indivisible, and the government did everything to allow events that have contributed to the situation we now have in our country. Ukrainians applied all efforts and means to arm our country – and equip it with nuclear weapons too – and the government has done everything to make nuclear weapons, tactical weapons, actually non-existent. No one, but no one has taken on responsibility for this!

These questions must be raised repeatedly so that neither the first, the second nor the last president of this country can act with such impunity and irresponsibility as we sometimes see.

– Mr. Badrak, do you think that Ukraine can protect its independence?

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– Today, we see that the Ukrainian army has significantly changed its image. This army is now motivated and hardened. So I have every reason to believe that Ukraine will be able to protect itself in a modern war. The General Staff of Russia knows this.

Of course, everything is not as we experts would like it to be. Unfortunately, throughout Ukraine’s short history, we’ve witnessed how helpless our political leaders really are. Moreover, our government is doing only half of what could and should be done.

So, what hasn’t been done yet? There’s no project for a professional army. Our professional army is created, so to say, not as a real professional one, but only as a contractual army.

Second point… There’s been no attempt to fully rearm our country, neither have serious rearmament processes or projects been launched. This is the government’s fault because the defense industry is managed in an artificial, manual mode.

If there are no relevant laws or proper vertical management of the defense industry, there can be no decent conditions for western defense companies to come to Ukraine and build a large-scale military and technological cooperation agreement.

Those appeals to provide Ukraine with weapons, support, and technical help belong to the past. Today and tomorrow call for close collaboration with Western defense companies as partners that have the technology and want to cooperate with Ukraine. We just lack some technology, some systems in order to establish a viable defense industry. Unfortunately, we’ve seen no breakthroughs.

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There’s another question that hasn’t been solved. The issue of territorial defense. A draft law on territorial defense has been on the table since June last year, but unfortunately, no one’s considering it.

Yes, our army has become stronger and more hardened, but we’re still very far from knowing how to conduct a contactless war. So, unfortunately, we’re back to building a Soviet type of army. As in Soviet times, we will have to depend on men who will be in the field, engage in direct combat, etc., whereas we should rely more on missile systems and unmanned systems. Yes, they are expensive, but it’s a matter of time.

We have a powerful enemy, so we must build up a strong deterrence system. We have to do this, regardless of the expense!

– Mr. Badrak, when Putin made his “Crimea” statement, which we mentioned above, some military experts, both in Ukraine and Russia,started predicting a full-scale attack by Russia. Do you think this is probable?

Let’s be realistic. Russia has created a closed circle with regard to war preparations. Yes, we have issues with reserves, resources, and other general problems. But, when we see that everything’s ready for an offensive, a full-scale war with the participation of the Russian army, we cannot and should not keep silent. That’s why I say the chances of war are 50 – 50.

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Translated by: Christine Chraibi
Source: Radio Liberty

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  • Randolph Carter

    “Ukrainians took up arms and went to defend their country; families sent
    their sons to the front lines when the army and its high command failed
    to do what they were supposed to do under the Constitution of Ukraine.” This borders on treason; has any information ever been released as to why the high command sat on their fat medal-bedecked derrieres and did nothing? Is this true, or someone’s hyperbole?

    “…we should demand that our government raise this issue and officially call Russia an aggressor state, an aggressor that has occupied part of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, an aggressor state that has occupied all of Crimea.” Same comment as above; if this has not been done, why not? Would such a statement be made to the UN, the EU government or to whom? Will it help in terms of weapons, support systems, and state-of-the-art hardware or is it just another empty diplomatic gesture?

    “But, when we see that everything’s ready for an offensive, a full-scale
    war with the participation of the Russian army, we cannot and should not
    keep silent. That’s why I say the chances of war are 50 – 50.” Can Ukraine rely on anyone for support? The USA is in the middle of an election (which means nothing will come from us), the EU is purely corrupt, and I see nobody else on the horizon (except Britain, – see “UK to enhance NATO’s ability to rapidly respond to threats” below)

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-to-enhance-natos-ability-to-rapidly-respond-to-threats

    • Quartermaster

      Ukraine needs help, but she must also mobilize what she has.

    • Oknemfrod

      While the dwarf is weighing out the ups and downs of the folly of a full-scale invasion, the future resolve and fierce resistance on part of the Ukrainian people is surely a factor, but mainly from the internal policy standpoint – that is, how the new jolt of pseudo-patriotic hurrah will be balanced by the endless stream of C-200s, which in the case of such massive an adventure would be utterly impossible to hide despite all FSB efforts.
      However, methinks the main factor affecting his cogitations in this direction lies in a different plane – to wit, which instruments of economic and, more importantly, personal financial retribution are likely to be used against him and his coterie by the West should he decide to invade. These tools are sharp and easy to engage, and while he gives no flying horse squeeze to the lives of his fellow countrymen (let alone Ukrainians), he sure as he11 cares about his own posterior.

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        If the dwarf needs some new shot of patriotic hurrah, all he has to do is invade and annex Belarus. Losses will be minimal as there wil be hardly any resistance given that both the armed forces of Belarus and KGB are riddled with pro-Dwarfstan moles. If the dwarf is smart he will do this just before the Duma elections. Quite frankly I’m surprised he hasn’t done so already.
        For the dwarf the advantages are huge and the backlash will be nothing but a few verbal protests, if that- his vassal Adolfina Merkel will see to that. I wouldn’t harbour any ilusions about any retribution should the dwarf decide to actually launch an open invasion of the Ukraine- not with the current bunch of useless cretins the west currently has as “leaders”- Obama, Merkel, Hollande, Renzi, Rutte etc etc.

        • Oknemfrod

          Come to think of it, if the dwarf had been sure that no terrible personal retributions would ensue, he would, at a minimum, have invaded the entire Ukrainian Southeast. It looks, though, that after the Crimean affair he is not so sure, for he had hoped – scratch that, was confident – that there would be no Western response at all. Timid as the sanctions are, he must be having a burning sensation from their barely touching the sphincter and reflecting how it would feel if much more of much hotter stuff were shoved up the orifice surrounding it.

    • Bo Mychajliw

      Because until February 2014 all the “Generals” were Yanukovich appointees whose job was to selloff as much military hardware as they could and basically eliminate the Ukrainian military as an even “national guard” force much less a military. WHY? So that Yanukovich and Putin would never have any opposition form Ukrainians to what they wanted to do with Ukraine. First Yeltsin / Putin got the USA and Great Britain to push for Ukrainian nuclear disarmament so that there would be NO NUCLEAR DETTERENT to Russian aggression, the Budapest Memorandum to the final Helsinki Accords. Provide Ukraine “false security” by guarantees of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity “GUARANTEED” by America, Great Britain and the Russian Federation. Second, install a pro-Russian government that cannibalizes the Ukrainian military leaving nothing of substance left to defend itself with. Sell off what you can for money in foreign bank accounts, sell the rest for scrape metal dollars and sell the new arms your armament industry produces to other countries, keeping nothing for your own requirements. NOW UKRAINE IS AN EASY TARGET FOR RUSSIAN AGRESSION!

      • Randolph Carter

        Interesting point; the idea that Putin and Russia really began the war on Ukraine many years ago before actual hostilities. I had no idea that Putin was part of the negotiation of the Budapest Memorandum, written in 1994 and designed to remove considerable assets from Ukraine: nuclear weapons (which Russia had in abundance).

        Yanukovich’s disassembly of the Ukrainian military also is interesting – it means he was a sock-puppet for Putin for years. I wonder how many others in the Verkovna Rada who are still in power are also Putin allies. Also the oligarchs; I recall reading about one (Firtash) who ran just about everything except the weekly poker game.

        In short, it looks like the war in Ukraine has been in the planning stages (with some diversions in strategy) for at least 20+ years.

        • http://www.krantvannederland.nl/ Cees Boogaart

          A article from 20 years ago in short: when russians behave as russian (like they do today)
          https://www.reddit.com/r/russiawarinukraine/comments/36v3bj/a_prediction_of_20_years_ago_about_ukraines_nukes/?ref=search_posts

          • Randolph Carter

            An excellent article, especially the comment: “In truth, Eastern Europe would be far safer behind Ukraine’s atomic arsenal than America’s meager commitment.” I wonder how the situation would change if Ukraine had kept even a fraction of her nuclear deterrent.

          • http://www.krantvannederland.nl/ Cees Boogaart

            in my search for the 20 year history I found a article that said Ukraine has “forgotten” to give last ones….remember all “soviet/russian” nukes were designed,built, and maintained by Ukraine..we all know how well “russians” handle nuclear sites like Chernobyl, the first nuclear attack of Russia against Europe.

          • Randolph Carter

            Cees, I wouldn’t qualify Chernobyl as a nuclear attack by Russia against Europe unless you are saying that the contamination, fallout, higher cancer rates, etc. were the form of the attack. There is excellent documentation here:

            http://www.angelfire.com/extreme4/kiddofspeed/

            by a young lady named Elena, who is the daughter of a physicist and can gain access to Chernobyl. She rides her motorcycle through Pripyat and surrounding area and has documented the “accident” and subsequent coverup/spin/propaganda by the Soviet Union. Interesting reading, especially the “post-accident” lying and misdirection.

          • http://www.krantvannederland.nl/ Cees Boogaart

            it were russian technicians who blew it up, and russian goverment did a massive coverup, similar to kremlinmedia denying there are russian soldiers, commanders and even general in occupied donbass.

        • Bo Mychajliw

          I think that Yeltsin really wanted to have peaceful coexistence and joint economic growth with Ukraine. Mutual respect for both nationalities and improvement of the life style of citizens of both countries.
          However Russian nationalists and Putin once got to be head the FSB / KGB in 1998 he saw an opportunity to reestablish the Russian “empire” starting with Chechnya and Georgia followed by Ukraine. No Western reactions to Chechen Wars and Georgia provocation and war opened the door to Crimea and eastern Ukraine, once Yanukovich fled to Russia.

    • http://www.krantvannederland.nl/ Cees Boogaart

      EU is corrupt and will fall apart in next years, sanctions are now at level 3 (US) should have been from start at level 10 ofc., both USA and EU have lendlease programs for Ukraine so Ukraine can borrow weapons from them (pay only the ones destroyed) EU signed that on January 15, 2015 https://www.reddit.com/r/russiawarinukraine/comments/4chmz5/how_ukraine_can_get_the_eu_defensive_weapons/?ref=search_posts

      But Yes Ukraine has to do it alone, perhaps together with other east-european countries.

  • zorbatheturk

    Size is not everything. A determined people will never be subdued.

    In 1979 China decided to invade Vietnam. The plan was to teach the Vietnamese a lesson. Instead, the lesson was learned by China. 80,000 PLA troops crossed into Vietnam. 17 days later 20,000 of them were dead. The Chinese withdrew and pronounced the exercise had been a ” glorious success. ” Yeah, right.