Tank T-84-120 "Yatagan" - a version of the T-84 with weapons and devices of a foreign design. Photo Wikimedia Commons
The current authorities of Ukraine consider joining NATO as one of the main foreign policy tasks. Over the past several years, certain measures and programs have been proposed aimed at the earliest possible accession to the Alliance. Among other things, it is planned to restructure the military in accordance with the standards of the organization.
In recent days, the topic of hypothetical entry into NATO has again become relevant in connection with the new decisions of the Ukrainian leadership. On May 11, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a decree "On the Richna National Program for the Guidance of the Ukraine-NATO Commission for 2021 Rik" ("On the Annual National Program under the auspices of the Ukraine-NATO Commission for 2021")
In accordance with this document, the cabinet of ministers must draw up a plan for the implementation of the new annual program within 20 days. He must also determine the criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of the work carried out. As a separate clause of the decree, the president obliged state structures to regularly report to the public on the work carried out.
The approved Annual National Program is attached to the decree. It is a multi-page document that includes several main sections and covers various areas of state, military and economic policy. He sets several dozen strategic goals of various kinds related to the future integration of Ukraine into NATO.
Section II of the program is devoted to defense and security issues. It contains 13 strategic goals of various kinds, covering almost all areas of development of the armed forces and power structures. So, strategic goal 2.1 (the first in section) stipulates the basic principles of building the army and other organizations, social policy in relation to personnel, legal features of reforms, etc.
Falarick anti-tank missile for 105 mm cannons. Photo by GKB "Luch"
The second goal is to improve the defense management system in accordance with the principles and approaches adopted by NATO. The next goal is to ensure the required operational and combat capabilities of the armed forces, incl. with the ability to fully interact with foreign armies. The logistics and medical services need to be updated accordingly. Goal 2.5 is designated as “professionalization of the defense forces”; it also provides for the creation of the necessary reserve.
The program provides for the transformation of the internal affairs bodies and emergency services into a full-fledged component of the national defense system. Another "goal" determines the directions of development of the National Guard, also taking into account the approaches and principles of NATO. Objective 2.8 addresses the issues of interaction of defense structures with the population. The following points of the program relate to the border and migration services, the emergency services and the SBU. Finally, it is proposed to increase the intelligence capabilities of the state based on our own and foreign experience.
The assigned tasks should be solved in different ways. In part of the points, it is proposed to improve legislation and guidance documents. Other proposals relate to the introduction of new methods of work, borrowed from foreign colleagues. In a number of cases, the sequential implementation of different measures is envisaged, in which each new measure creates the basis for subsequent ones.
Different deadlines for completing the assigned tasks are set. The simplest activities should be completed by the end of this year. Legislative and other issues will be resolved until 2022-23. A complete restructuring of the armed forces and related structures in accordance with NATO standards is planned for 2025.
Lightweight floating craft of imported production. Photo of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine
In some areas, the reform will mainly affect legislation and guidance documents. At the same time, the modernization of the armed forces envisages not only the introduction of updated regulations and control loops, but also the replacement of the material part. Questions of this kind are addressed in Strategic Objective No. 2.3.
Already this year, the program requires the formation of new national standards for the development and production of weapons and equipment based on NATO standards. It is also necessary to determine the ways of further development and modernization of the materiel of the troops for the transition to new standards. In this case, it will be necessary to take into account the fact that for a long time in service will remain products of old models that do not meet NATO requirements.
During the period of new programs and projects, it is planned to purchase foreign samples weapons, as well as develop and produce our own designs. The main part of this transition is going to be completed by 2025.
Make or buy
It should be noted that the transition to new military equipment that meets the standards of the Alliance is the most difficult part of the planned programs. Ukraine has a fairly large army in need of appropriate quantities of materiel. A full replacement of old equipment and weapons with imported or own developments will be extremely expensive - up to the impossibility of fulfilling such plans.
Boats Mk 6 - these will soon be received by the Ukrainian Navy. Photo by SAFE Boats Int.
Independent development of new models according to NATO standards is quite real, and Ukrainian enterprises have experience of this kind. Modifications have been made in the past tanks with weapons and instrumentation of foreign production. Some Ukrainian developments in the field of guided missile weapons are used in foreign systems.
However, the prospects for own Ukrainian developments remain in question. It is necessary to create a number of modern samples that meet current requirements, and then launch their mass production. This will take time and serious financial costs, possibly unacceptable for a timely Ukraine. Whether industry and the army will be able to count on foreign aid is unclear.
Obviously, Ukraine will not be able to cover all its needs for weapons on its own and will have to purchase foreign products. The deliveries of individual samples have already begun. Received wide popularity stories with the transfer of portable anti-tank missile systems, motor boats, etc. Not so long ago, the Ukrainian fleet ordered British boats on credit.
The acquisition of foreign products, new and used, allows, in a limited time, to carry out the desired rearmament of almost all branches of the armed forces. However, even in this case, the issue of cost and budgets is at the forefront. Without timely and full-scale assistance from friendly countries, the rearmament program according to new standards cannot be carried out.
Thus, official Kiev not only does not abandon plans to join NATO, but is also trying to take real measures. Various negotiations are underway, new bodies are being created, etc. Recently, the president signed a decree launching a program that defines the main actions in the coming years.
For the time being, the Ukrainian Air Force will use old Soviet-made equipment. Photo of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine
The prospects for such a program - as well as all plans to join the North Atlantic Alliance - remain unclear. Some of the proposed measures are realistic, while others may be difficult or impossible to implement for financial, political and organizational reasons. However, the Ukrainian authorities intend to go all the way planned and prepare for joining NATO.
It should be noted that the possibility of achieving the main goal of Kiev is also questionable. Ukraine's accession to NATO depends not only on its desires and capabilities - it is connected with the fulfillment of a number of requirements. At the same time, the decisive word on this issue remains with the Alliance itself and its leading countries. And until they make a positive decision, the transfer of the Ukrainian army to new standards actually makes no sense.