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With the relative quiet on the Eastern front of the Donbass the Ukrainian military appears to be more interested in declaring victory and returning to a semi-comfortable life of corruption than in any actual reforms.
Petro Poroshenko himself declared the war on the Donbass is over, after the Ukrainian military “punched the enemy in the teeth.”
Ironically enough, that very same article also pointed out that Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines are losing their teeth to scurvy due to the vitamin-poor diet they are receiving. But it is always their fault.
That much is evident from the report published this week by the Ukrainian General Staff on the Battle of Ilovaysk which places the blame for the stunning defeat on…Ukrainian soldiers who deserted their positions and fled.
Specific units mentioned include the 28th Mechanized Brigade, 51st Mechanized Brigade, 25th Airborne Brigade, 93rd, 19th, and 79th Mechanized Brigades, plus several volunteer battalions. Hardly any unit which participated in that battle is considered to be free of blame.
Instead, Poltorak and Muzhenko are getting promoted to the rank of Army General because of strategic successes in Ilovaisk and Debaltsevo.
A number of demobilized soldiers from the 55th Battalion blocked entrances to that unit’s garrison when it turned out they were not given documents certifying they were ATO participants. Meanwhile, the list of ATO participants includes many individuals who never served at the front line.
The signs of drawing down are also evident in the realm of equipment procurement.
Ukrainian military has decided to forgo modernization of the T-64BM Bulat MBTs in favor of restoring older Soviet-era T-64BV and upgrading them, as well as organizing serial production of the Oplot MBT. Ukraine’s MOD cited the difficulty of keeping the Bulats operational as the reason for opting for T-64BV upgrades instead. It is also not clear whether the UAF will see many Oplots enter service.
It may well be that the Ukrainian defense industry no longer has the resources necessary to produce Oplots and upgrade Bulats. Thus the UAF will likely have to do with freshly painted T-64BV, while the scarce Oplot tanks will be delivered to export customers in order to earn scarce hard currency that can be safely stashed away in offshore accounts.
Ukraine’s defense industry continues to come up with ways to creatively waste scarce budget hryvnia. Small arms appear to be the next area to show its creativity. For example, the Gopak “operational-portable” rifle (named after the Cossack dance):
The Gopak appears to be an 7.62mm AKM assault rifle fitted with an unnecessarily powerful optical sight and the buttstock from PKM machine-gun. The one genuine innovation seems to be a suppressor tube fitted over the barrel and a clumsy-looking bipod. Even if it works, the Gopak’s designers will harldy have any luck to peddle their wares to the UAF without cover of the general staff.
The head of the council of volunteers at the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense David Arakhania found himself accused of embezzling 105 million hryvnia from the Ministry of Defense. Arakhania does have some highly placed friends, including Rada deputy Dmitriy Tymchuk who claims Arakhania is innocent of the accusations leveled against him. Still, Arakhania is planning to leave the country to evade the charges.
Finally, a touch of the absurd.
A Ukrainian newspaper reported that a “drone carrying terrorists” was shot down near Mariupol. No doubt a case of ISIS-envy–with the Russian military operating effectively in Syria, Ukrainian nationalists seem to be missing the spotlight now that it has moved someplace else.