“Defense summary 2019”: What Ukraine has managed and failed to do

Have there been any significant changes in the defense-industrial complex of Ukraine during 2019? What security and defense risks should Ukraine be prepared for in 2020? Radio Liberty talked about that with Valentyn Badrak, CACDS Director, USSI Board Member.
Photo: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine

Have there been any significant changes in the defense-industrial complex of Ukraine during 2019? What achievements can you talk about, and what important things have remained unimplemented? What security and defense risks should Ukraine be prepared for in 2020? Radio Liberty traditionally discussed that with Valentyn Badrak, the Director of Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies (CACDS) non-governmental organization at the end of the year. Also, Radio Liberty shared the details from the 2019 report of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine.

– As for me, the situation is dissapointing. In the context of slowing down the rearmament of the Armed Forces of Ukraine within the scope of the defense budget for 2019, the Ministry of Defense proved unable to spend several billion hryvnias. It is 5 to 8 billion according, depending on the source.

This considerably harmed the issue of creation of a “digital army”.

– Is there anything done well?

– Yes, there is. It is good that Neptun tests were finished.” This gives hope that Ukraine will have its own winged rocket missile in 2020.

Creation of Vilkha missile is also positive. In 2020, Ukraine will be able to hit the enemy accurately at a 70 kilometers distance.

– In your opinion, what conceptual questions about the security of Ukraine have not been clearly answered?

– I think that the new government did not answer to itself and to the society about what the Ukrainian army of the future should be like. Unfortunately…

Talks on “NATO standards” have raised the issue of rearmament priorities, that is, the creation of adequate defense capabilities. There is an impression that the military leadership did not decide this for themselves.

– And what are the main security risks for Ukraine in 2020?

– First, it is a political risk.

The huge anti-Ukrainian information campaign around the world, the frankly increased support of pro-Russian, i.e anti-Ukrainian politicians, and in general, the formation of powerful anti-Ukrainian forces, all this allows to say that the Putin Kremlin has started its attacks.

In the statement of the CDMA, we say that not only the population of Russia, but the whole world, is thoroughly persuaded by the possibility of “absorbing Ukraine”, or at least “managing Kyiv”.


Interesting trend till the end of 2019: all who are ready to defend Ukrainian with and without weapons; all who are ready to defend their home, their land, are openly called Nazis in Russia.

Why is that so? The explanation is very simple: the Russian establishment is well aware that the only real force (and therefore a threat) is the increase of the national dignity of Ukrainians and their readiness for armed struggle.

That is why Russian propaganda has launched a powerful multi-level information war, which key points are: “Civil war is ongoing in Ukraine”; “Ukrainian participants in the war are Nazis and dangerous to society, potential or real criminals”; “The only formula for the “survival” of Ukrainian statehood is union with Russia.”

What does Ukrainian authorities do? Following the Poroshenko’s tradition, they keep loosing motivated men who wanted to serve.

In this environment, the main Putin’s goal, to create a controlled Ukraine, is much closer to him today than it was in 2014 and 2015.

This is just a fact derived from analysis of the situation.

Accordingly, purely military and power risks are increasing, as negative military scenarios are possible under the mask of “protection” and “release”.

Even more than before, Ukraine needs a powerful army to change the rhetoric in relations with hostile Russia, to protect the state and to patriotic upbringing.

I think that the most powerful and authoritative Armed Forces of Ukraine can become the basis for cementing the national idea, strengthening the national movement through the development of all forces of defense, territorial defense, comprehensive youth bringing.

We underline that we need to act immediately. NATO standards are important but they cannot be the main priority in creation of the defense potential.

“We must fight for the motivation of the soldiers of the future army because the vacuum will be filled. Just like for the development of domestic weapons, when picking between  reconciliation with Moscow or weaponing of Ukraine, the West will choose the first option.” – we emphasis.

MoD report on budget use and concluded contracts

Ministry of Defence of Ukraine reported on:

  • contracts for the supply of the second batch of US anti-tank missile systems Javelin;

“During the fourth quarter, due to the concentration of resources of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, it was possible to conclude contracts for the supply of the second batch of US-made Javelin anti-tank missile systems. We also order similar missile systems from our national manufacturer. We have several artillery reconnaissance stations, about 100 armored vehicles of various types and armored vehicles, several planes”, Deputy Defense Minister Anatolii Petrenko said.

  • in 2019, the Ministy of Defense implemented three contracts;

“Two contracts with the US Government for the Foreign Military Sales Program, and one contract with the NATO Support and Supply Agency. This allows us to use all the resources available in the arms market: national, non-state, as well as foreign manufacturers and suppliers.”

  • defense budget execution in 2019;

“In 2019, we operated within the budget resource of 16 billion 790 million hryvnias. This financial resource is 100% funded by the state for the needs of the Armed Forces. Our budget execution rate is 99.3%. 0.7% are contracts that continue to be investigated, taking into account the risks that need to be eliminated”

  • 3 billion hryvnias were committed in Q4 2019;

“3 billion hryvnias were committed in three months. The funds have been used, i.e military products for UAH 4.7 billion have been accepted. Much work has been done to reduce current receivables and there have also been successful examples of overdue receivables and the supply of essential equipment to troops.”

  • two adjustments were made to focus the resource on the most effective performance within the framework of the State Defense Procurement;

‘State contracts for the supply of products from foreign suppliers were concluded and the problem contract was unblocked and the bankruptcy of Morozov Design Bureau of Kharkiv which supplied BTR-4E to the military was made impossible.

These machines have already come into service with one of the mechanized brigades. This is really the first time that we so massively supply the critical nomenclature of armored weapons to the troops and we are optimistic about the future 2020”, Anatolii Petrenko said.

  • a significant number of different new types of weapons and military equipment have been received by the troops in 2019;

“Now there is an unmanned aerial vehicle of operational range, which can be used in shock version. We have an automated artillery complex in service, and we also have a radar station for counter-battery combat; this is all that was carried out in the framework of the state defense procurement by all participants of the process: it’s customers, manufacturers and it’s operators.”

The Ministry of Defense about priorities:

“This is where we are investing money, expecting a result in the first half of 2020” the MoD’s statement.

  • meet the critical needs of the troops that perform the tasks on a daily basis, while raising the level of technical proficiency and enhancing their deterrent capabilities;
  • air defense;
  • Navy;
  • tactical aviation;
  • sustainability of the management system;
  • cyber security.