In early September of this year, President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych approved the State Comprehensive Program for Reforming and Developing the Armed Forces of Ukraine for the period up to 2017. In the context of such a landmark event, the interlocutor of the weekly "Military Industrial Complex" - the Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Pavel Lebedev, spoke about the current state of the Ukrainian army and the ways of implementing the adopted program.
- Pavel Valentinovich, is it possible to talk about changes in the nature of threats to the national security of Ukraine in the military and other spheres?
“We are very attentive in monitoring everything connected with threats to our national security.” In recent years, contradictions have sharply intensified in the world, primarily in the context of “competitions” between world power centers, access to world natural resources, and the struggle for energy has become more acute. This has already led to numerous military conflicts in various parts of our planet, including near our borders. Threats of this kind are considered very carefully today. Also with no less attention, we monitor threats in the information and other areas that directly or indirectly affect the country's military security. As for the military sphere itself, in the medium term, the so-called classical military aggression against our country is unlikely. Although it is obvious that it is unlikely only as long as we have an effective tool for preventing and suppressing it.
In addition, the constant monitoring and forecasting of changes in the nature of threats to the military security of our country are crucial. To this end, we have created and operate a clear defense planning system, one of the main tasks of which is the systematic assessment of threats in the military sphere. Our current point of view on these issues is reflected in the National Security Strategy, the Military Doctrine of Ukraine, as well as in the Strategic Defense Bulletin and the Concept for the Reform and Development of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for the Period to 2017 and other documents. I note that most of these documents were adopted quite recently.
- What are the main directions of modernization and development laid down in the State Program for the Reform and Development of the Armed Forces of Ukraine adopted at the beginning of September? What are you planning to concentrate on?
- The state comprehensive program of reforming and developing the Ukrainian Armed Forces before 2017 envisages several main directions for army reform. It is precisely the application of efforts at these key points that should fundamentally change the quality level of our army, in fact turn it into a completely new one, with different qualities and capabilities. The first and, probably, the main task at the same time is to ensure the constant readiness of the troops (forces) to promptly respond to any threats of the use of military force against Ukraine. In other words, the Ukrainian army must be ready, and most importantly, able to react with lightning speed to any forceful encroachment in our direction.
We will achieve this in several ways, in particular by improving the organizational and staff structure of the army, restoring the system of high-grade and high-quality combat training of troops and, of course, by switching to manning exclusively on a voluntary basis. By the way, today approximately 58 percent of all posts of soldiers and sergeants in our company are occupied by contract soldiers. Accordingly, with the 2014 of the year, we are planning to staff the Ukrainian armed forces exclusively with volunteers. There will also be a reduction in its numbers, with the alignment of the existing disproportion between the combat and support structures. Now the army numbers - 182 thousands, of which about 70 thousands serve in combat units and 112 thousands - in support, service, etc. In 2017, the army will make 122 thousands, of which more than half will serve in combat units. ratio of 60 to 40 percent.
We will also increase the capabilities of our army by significantly increasing the number of modernized and new types of weapons and military equipment. We are planning to allocate up to a quarter of all the funds that are planned to be allocated for the reform, namely to the technical re-equipment sector. In addition, we will debug the system of providing our troops with emergency supplies of material resources. Our army must have in full all that is necessary for life and battle to be able to take action at any time and in any direction.
Another point of application of our efforts will be the improvement of the command and control system of the army. Significant improvement is planned primarily by optimizing structures and numbers, automating management processes, accounting for material resources, etc.
An important direction of transformation of our armed forces is the improvement of their mobilization ability. Creating a compact modern army, we will surely ensure that in a special period, in the event of a direct threat of military aggression, we have the opportunity to increase the combat potential of a corresponding scale.
Another area of military reform will be a significant increase in personnel potential. Here our efforts will be primarily focused on motivational factors. This is especially true of providing cash for military personnel, raising the level of social guarantees, putting in place effective mechanisms for providing military personnel with housing.
In the course of the reform, we also plan to necessarily bring the budget policy of our state in the field of defense in line with modern requirements, and most importantly - in line with the real financial and economic opportunities of the country.
- Can we say that the Ukrainian army is moving towards the development of a new system of operations, new forms of warfare and methods of confrontation directly on the battlefield?
- This is, of course, a question more to the military specialists from the General Staff. It is this body that is directly involved in operational planning and the use of armed forces. But I, as Minister of Defense, would like to note in connection with this that by modernizing the armed forces, we focus primarily on the most modern trends in the art of war. That is, if necessary, the reformed Ukrainian army is preparing to fight in a new way in accordance with the most advanced views on the conduct of hostilities.
The main focus in this area will be the creation of self-sufficient interspecific groups in our army. Self-sufficient in that they must be able to plan, prepare and conduct independent military operations. The basis of interspecific groupings will be full-fledged combat units of constant readiness, equipped with contract soldiers and modern equipment. Based on the experience of Iraqi, Afghan and other campaigns, we selected battalion combat tactical groups reinforced as aviation and other necessary means of support.
Their formation, training, equipment and preparation for full-fledged combat use will be closely linked to multi-level planning. This issue will undoubtedly be considered by the military control authorities in a very flexible, extremely realistic manner and in accordance with the requirements of the modern moment.
- Your predecessors have repeatedly voiced plans to create powerful special operations forces as part of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Recently, in the media about this almost nothing is written. Have you revised your priorities or hid everything behind a veil of secrecy?
- This kind of event is hardly possible to completely hide. An obvious fact: Ukraine, its armed forces such a "tool" is vital. As practice shows, which, as is known, is the best criterion of truth, the presence of such a formation as part of any army in the world significantly increases its combat capability. Moreover, in the context of the “price-effectiveness” criterion, the SSOs have the highest indicators.
The USA, many countries of Western Europe, the Middle East have chosen in favor of special operations forces, since their maintenance requires a relatively small budget and at the same time is several orders of magnitude more effective than conventional units and subunits, they are able to radically change the situation not only on the battlefield , but also in operational and even strategic terms. So why should we give up the opportunities that our army will have in this type of formation?
- How do reform issues affect the social sphere of the Ukrainian Armed Forces?
- The social sphere is one of the priorities of the current reform of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Raising the level of state social guarantees to servicemen and introducing an effective mechanism for providing them with housing are considered to have already been introduced into action the State Program for Reforming and Developing the Armed Forces to 2017 as the main points of application of efforts by military authorities at all levels. Moreover, a radical solution to the social problems of our army has already begun.
As you probably know, we started with a one-time increase in the size of the monetary content of certain categories of the military twice (in the Navy, flight and engineering staff in the air forces and aviation of the ground forces, highly mobile airborne troops and special forces). And with 1 in April of this year, a gradual increase in the pay for the rest of the military has also begun. Quarterly, it will increase by 20 percent and thus doubled by July of next year by 1. This increase is not the last. Now we are developing a new payroll system for military personnel, at which they will be provided with its annual increase by 25 percent.
In the field of social protection one of the main areas of work remains the provision of housing. The first positive results are already there. Striving for a comprehensive solution of the problem, we conducted an audit of the construction in progress of the Ministry of Defense since 2007. During the inventory and certification of 168 housing construction projects for the military are divided into four categories. The first group includes ready-made 80 – 90 percent, which will be further completed with budget funds. In particular, we are talking about nine objects on 257 apartments, they can be completed as quickly as possible and put into operation. More than two dozen objects will be completed with the help of investors, and objects with a low degree of readiness, but in attractive territories will be transferred to private investors with the definition of the proportion of apartments of the Ministry of Defense. We have already transferred to the implementation of the liberated towns and excess, unusable property of the Ministry of Defense. These funds will be directed to the construction of housing and the solution of social problems of military personnel. To replenish the housing stock, we are also actively rebuilding buildings for housing that are not used in the daily activities of the troops.
As for creating a sustainable motivational base for attracting our young citizens to military service under contract, here we have ambitious plans. We want our armed forces to become one of the best employers in the country with one of the best social packages on the Ukrainian labor market. Soldiers will be exempted from paying taxes, contract service will be provided for the allocation of service housing, the eight-hour working day and two guaranteed days off are already a reality. The whole structure of the service has been largely changed (no cleansing of potatoes, territory cleaning and other economic work) - only combat training and maintenance of full-time weapons and military equipment.
- In addition to the insufficient budget of the Ministry of Defense, what else, in your opinion, hinders the issues of re-equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine?
- Indeed, the main deterrent to the technical re-equipment of our army is precisely the amount of its financing. The logic here is simple and clear. There will be money - there will be new models of weapons and equipment, and in sufficient quantities.
However, there is another factor that seriously affects the problem of technical re-equipment of our armed forces. This is the state of the domestic military-industrial complex (DIC). By and large, we can only assess or analyze his condition, development prospects and real opportunities in respect of projects that interest us, the armed forces of Ukraine, as a customer. For most of the domestic defense industry is not managed by the Ministry of Defense, but by a completely different department. The level of our interaction with the domestic defense industry satisfies us. At least its capabilities in the development, testing and mass production of the weapons and military equipment we need are acceptable.
The Ukrainian defense industrial complex is gradually updating technologies and carrying out technical re-equipment, reconstruction of the experimental and production base, which objectively creates opportunities for organizing the production of modern types of weapons and military equipment, innovative, competitive products, and substantial replenishment of the manufactured range of weapons and military equipment. For some types of weapons and military equipment, he has already managed to create practically closed production cycles directly in our country. For example, on armored vehicles, small arms, a certain range of rocket weapons, a number of other areas.
- At the beginning of the summer, you voiced the need for the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine to refuse to cooperate with the Yuzhnoye Design Office on the creation of the Sapsan missile system in favor of another developer. Is this not a recognition of the fact that Ukraine’s rocket and space industry is declining?
- Not. Firstly, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine is not an expert organization for the analysis and evaluation of various sectors of the country's economy, including the rocket and space industry. For this there are completely different institutions and departments.
Secondly, the rejection of the further creation of the Sapsan complex does not depend at all on the ability of the rocket and space industry of Ukraine as a whole and the state enterprise Yuzhnoye Design Bureau in particular to perform such work. Our refusal is due to completely different considerations.
This decision was made by the Ministry of Defense on the basis of the model of the use of the armed forces of Ukraine, in accordance with which the issues of the use of missile weapons with certain tactical and technical characteristics were clarified. In the near future, the Sapsan project will be considered at a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, where the final decision will be made.
I want to emphasize that the creation of the Sapsan complex is not a single direction, in the development of which enterprises of the rocket and space industry of Ukraine are successfully participating, including the field of orders of the national defense ministry. And the fact that we have a different, more efficient developer, testifies to the successful work of the Ukrainian defense industrial complex, and in the conditions of tough market competition.
- Does the general state of the defense-industrial complex of Ukraine allow you to resolve issues of re-equipment of the army according to the main nomenclature of weapons and military equipment?
- Yes, it will. For those types of weapons where their own closed production cycles have been created, I think our defense industry complex will quite successfully cope with the tasks of re-equipping the national army. In relation to other areas, we will maintain close production ties with foreign colleagues, adhering to an extremely pragmatic approach when choosing them.
- Please rate the development prospects of Russian-Ukrainian relations in the context of the Black Sea based in Crimea fleet RF.
- The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine builds relations with the defense department of the Russian Federation on the basis of mutual respect and good neighborly relations in accordance with national interests, the laws of Ukraine and international regulatory documents.
Ukrainian-Russian cooperation in the military and military-technical fields is quite dynamic. This is confirmed by more than 50 annual bilateral cooperation activities in the mentioned areas at different levels.
As regards the development of naval cooperation and interaction in the context of the Black Sea Fleet, the following should be noted. Ukraine and Russia now face the common tasks of modernizing the army and navy, building new ships and developing new types of weapons. And this is a significant potential for the development of mutually beneficial cooperation. Only from our two countries, and not solely on one of them, will it depend on whether this interaction will become complete and widespread.
This year, the Ukrainian and Russian fleets took part in the “Farway of the World-2013” bilateral training, which had already become a good tradition, and passed with full understanding. In particular, six combat ships, boats and support ships, six naval aviation aircraft, and special purpose units were involved in the development of methods of fighting pirates at sea. In total, during the exercise, 24 combat exercises were carried out with artillery, anti-submarine and sea underwater weapons, as well as aviation exercises. All set learning objectives have been achieved.
As a minister, I am completely satisfied with his results. The servicemen of both fleets demonstrated high combat training, mobility and professionalism in carrying out the assigned tasks. Our fleets are also very actively interacting within the Black Sea group BLACKSEAFOR, the last activation of which has recently ended.
I am sure that such events as the Farway of the World doctrine, BLACKSEAFOR activation, and a number of others will continue to help strengthen the military partnership between our countries. It is promising, mutually beneficial and deserves further development.
- You are very closely connected with the life of Sevastopol and the Crimean region. Is there a difference in the attitude of politicians and citizens towards the Russian-Ukrainian interaction in the capital and in the Crimea?
- You asked a question close to the rhetorical. I am not a sociologist and I don’t have any concrete sociological calculations on this issue. Nevertheless, I don’t feel much of a difference in the attitude of ordinary citizens and politicians to the question of Russian-Ukrainian interaction in Sevastopol and Kiev. Complications and stresses are equally unwilling both in Sevastopol and in Kiev.
It is clear that ordinary citizens who are connected by kinship, friendly relations with Russia, and in Sevastopol, and in Kiev are rooting for the strengthening of Russian-Ukrainian relations. Where it is more, where to a lesser extent - it is difficult to judge, because it depends on specific people, their culture, education, mentality. As for normal politicians, the main thing for them is to defend the national interest. At the same time it is important that this be done in a civilized manner.
- What problems do you see and prospects for cooperation between the Armed Forces of Ukraine and NATO?
- The level of political dialogue and practical military cooperation between Ukraine and NATO countries today is quite high.
Today, Ukrainian peacekeepers perform tasks as part of the International Security Forces in Kosovo, the International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan (ISAF). Our state is also a member of the NATO active counterterrorist operation. Another vivid example of international military cooperation: in September, the flagship of the Ukrainian Navy's frigate, Getman Sagaydachny, and a special forces team will join the anti-piracy operation Ocean Shield.
As you know, now in our country began the most ambitious reform of the army over the years of independence. Many NATO countries have also gone this way in due time. We are very interested in their experience, methodology of reforming the sphere of defense and security. We are interested in further studying the experience of military construction in these countries.
In the area of further strengthening the level of security and defense on the European continent in the context of interaction with other countries, we set ourselves achievable and understandable goals and objectives for our partners, the implementation of which will benefit both Ukraine and our partners.
Minister of Defense of Ukraine Pavel V. Lebedev
12 was born on July 1962 of the year in the village of Novomikhailovsky Tuapse district of the Krasnodar Territory (Russia). In 1984, he graduated from the Yaroslavl Higher Military School of Finance (specialty "Financier-Economist", qualification "Financier").
From 1979 to 1980, he worked as a mechanic at the Orlyonok pioneer camp car base.
From 1980 to 1984 year - cadet of the Yaroslavl Higher Military and Financial School.
From 1984 to 1992, the year continued to serve in the Chernivtsi military garrison as the head of the financial services of the battalion, regiment, deputy chief of the financial services of the division - inspector-auditor.
From 1992 to 1999 year - the head of the association "Meta", LLC "Legtech", the board of directors of OJSC "Leather haberdashery factory" Prestige-Inter ".
From 1999 to 2002, he worked as financial director of the state joint-stock company Titan (Armyansk, Crimea).
From 2002 to 2005 year - Chairman of the Supervisory Board of OJSC Kremenchug Steel Foundry, OJSC Dneprovagonmash (Dnipropetrovsk).
From 2005 to 2006 year - President of the Industrial Investment Group of Transport Engineering "Inter Car Group".
From 2006 to 2007 the year is a people's deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the V convocation from the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc (No. 73 in the list). At the time of the election - the head of the department of scientific and technical information of the Institute of Ecology and Energy Saving.
From 2007 to 2012, he is the people's deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the VI convocation from the Party of Regions (No. 121 in the list). Member of the Committee on Transport and Communications.
In November, 2012 was elected as a people's deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the VII convocation from the Party of Regions in the single-mandate majority district No. 224 of Sevastopol.
December 24 2012 was appointed by the decree of President Viktor Yanukovych to the post of Minister of Defense of Ukraine.
From 1994 to 2000, the year was twice elected as a deputy of the Chernivtsi city council, was chairman of the budget commission and privatization commission.
Honored Economist of Ukraine (2011).
Married, five children.
Hobbies: diving. Candidate master of sports in swimming.