In honor of the Military Intelligence Day, Lieutenant-General Viktor Gvozd, Head of the Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine in 2008 – 2010, shared his thoughts and memories with the military-industrial complex weekly and is now President of Borisfen Intel, an independent analytical center for geopolitical research.
- Viktor Ivanovich, do you think it is true that there are no former intelligence officers and the public organizations that unite them continue to actively influence the events in the world?
- It's true. This profession leaves its mark on the nature of the scout. He has the highest responsibility for the assigned case. Add here such qualities as a high intellectual and spiritual level, self-denial for the good of the Fatherland, constant readiness, as they say, to cover the back of a comrade. The real intelligence officer is a statist in the full sense of the word, regardless of whether he is in office or not. No matter how lofty it may sound, his duty is to serve his people and, of course, not for rewards or praise. It is important for him to feel that his profession is useful, in demand. But the Motherland, respectively, must treat him motherly. After all, work in exploration is a way of life. And frankly, not everyone who has served in its bodies can be considered a scout, not everyone perceives the intelligence community.
If we talk about veterans' organizations, then, in my opinion, their role is very difficult to overestimate. Given the peculiarities of the post-Soviet space, the veterans of our countries can be good informal communicators in dealing with many conflict situations.
- In the context of reforming the power structures, they suddenly began to say that instead of several intelligence agencies, it is enough for Ukraine to leave only one. Is this a dense dilettantism, or is this the guess of the desire of the national business elite to get rid of the means of control over their foreign activities, which often have nothing in common with the interests of the country?
- I think that this plan completely deserves the name sabotage and no other. After all, even to a non-professional it is clear that political intelligence has its own tasks, the military has its own. The complex geostrategic position of Ukraine makes it necessary for the government and the Ministry of Defense to be aware of every movement around the country. Only in this case will it be possible to correctly assess the challenges and threats in the military sphere. Even technologically, the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine (GUR MOU) is part of the administrative and political body - the Ministry of Defense, and not in the General Staff and the MOUR MOU in peacetime “On the intelligence agencies of Ukraine” in peacetime were assigned these functions.
Therefore, in accordance with the aforementioned law, one of the main functions of GUR MOU is information and analytical support for the highest state leadership in the military, military-political, military-technical, military-economic, information and environmental spheres. It is primarily about threats to national security related to attacks on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, as well as the negative impact of local wars and conflicts in different regions of the world, primarily near the borders of the country. Much attention is paid to issues such as the fight against terrorism, with the spread of weapons mass destruction, ensuring the security of our peacekeeping contingents.
On these issues, the leadership of the GUR MO informs those who, according to the current legislation, are a consumer of information and information-analytical materials of military intelligence. This is the president of Ukraine, carrying out the general leadership of the country's intelligence agencies, the chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, the prime minister and the minister of defense. These officials are provided with both thematic documents on individual issues, as well as daily summaries of the situation around Ukraine. These materials are used in making important government decisions.
Military intelligence, I mean operational-tactical, is a type of combat support, and it has completely different tasks. And if in peacetime the General Staff conducts reconnaissance, then in our case this means that we are directly preparing for war. No need to copy someone else's experience. It is important to realize that Ukraine is not Russia or China. It is necessary to sink to the ground and get away from the Soviet stereotypes of the world hegemon. In most countries, military intelligence consists of two components: strategic and military. True, in peacetime it is very important not to "atrophy" the military component.
Therefore, the existence of military intelligence along with other intelligence structures today has become the norm for the absolute majority of powers.
- Why is the Intelligence Committee under the President of Ukraine not working? If it is needed, then how to make it be effective?
- The work of the Intelligence Committee should, as they say, be very fine and accurate. After all, its main task is to coordinate the activities of intelligence services, and not to replace them. Therefore, it is important that it does not become a “bottleneck” and does not arrogate to itself the right of a monopoly on information intended for the report to top government leaders. The value lies precisely in the fact that the president of the country must have independent channels of information. That is, the committee can play both a positive role and a negative one. Although it does not have to be a committee. This could be the presidential adviser on intelligence with his apparatus. If the staff of the Council on National Security and Defense of Ukraine (NSDC) actually performs its functions, the unit may be there. After all, the main task of all intelligence services is not only to fulfill the tasks set, but also to provide information to the government leaders in a timely manner. Therefore, an indispensable condition is necessary: the head of a committee or other body should not be a politician, but a professional intelligence officer who knows the intelligence “kitchen” well, has direct access to the president and what is very important - the latter should trust him.
And one more thing - we readily copy someone’s experience. If we take the US intelligence community, in which today there are 16 intelligence services, the global scope of their use, then, naturally, such a body is necessary. If we have three intelligence services: the SVR, GUR MOU and the frontier, then is it worth it to fuss? After all, any good thing can be so bureaucratic that it will only lead to negative results. Moreover, we have plenty of such examples.
- Ukraine is among the top ten rocket and space states of the world. Why the country can not boast a group of reconnaissance satellites for various purposes? What is needed to make a difference?
- Already so many copies broken around this problem. What grouping of intelligence satellites can we talk about when there are no funds for decent salaries for teachers and doctors? We have everything: scientists, technologies, production facilities, even the State Space Agency of Ukraine. But we simply have no money. Although we get out and have the ability to decrypt any snapshot. Yes, and get this picture today in real time is not difficult. But the work on creating such a satellite in Ukraine is underway. I think it is a matter of time.
- In the media, there were complaints about the fact that effective special operations forces have not yet been created in Ukraine. But in the depths of the GUR MOU at one time, work was carried out to create them. Is the question, as always, limited financial resources?
- Talk about it for a long time. And the work itself is underway. Just recently, the Minister of Defense of Ukraine told about this in detail in the media. Plans are good. Only there is one moment. The main thing is that the intelligence when creating the Special Operations Forces does not lose its special forces. This is what I fear. That did not work out, so to speak, so that the computer hammer nails.
- Why Ukraine is inferior to other countries in the creation and promotion of private military companies?
- The creation and promotion of private military companies abroad is often accompanied by state support. On the one hand, the hands are clean, and on the other hand, there is a powerful tool in which the same professionals are involved. We have not yet reached this or is considered premature. Rather, the scale of thinking is too small.
- The country's vulnerability in the information sphere is increasing. What steps, if you were in the place of the president, would you take to solve this problem?
“This is a complex and complex problem, and it poses a direct threat to the existence of Ukraine as an independent state.” Therefore, its solution does not involve simple management methods. But the main thing here is the political will and the mobilization of all the country's capabilities, including the special services. I believe that the time has come to create a reliable information security system, the basis of which should be the state body that coordinates this activity.
- How do you perceive the idea of forming something like cyber command in the Armed Forces of Ukraine following the example of other countries?
- The idea is useful. There are still few of those who have such structures in the armed forces. In the US, it only exists since 2009. By 2014, it is planned to create such a command in Russia as a new kind of military. Naturally, Ukraine should also be ready to respond effectively to threats in the information space and increase the level of protection of the relevant infrastructure, primarily information systems of strategic facilities.
- Did you feel, being on the post of the head of the Defense Intelligence Department of the Ministry of Defense, competition from other intelligence agencies? I will clarify: not healthy competition, stimulating work, but as they say, “black”? For “access to the body” of the president for example?
- I would say that I have never suffered from the fact that someone had a greater or lesser opportunity to access, as you put it, the body of the president. I had enough opportunities and various channels for military intelligence information to arrive at the presidential table in time. Do not forget that I had the opportunity to work twice in the presidential structure. Initially, as a seconded, he worked in the presidential administration Leonid Kuchma - from 2003 to 2005 a year, and then - from 2005 to 2008 - in the secretariat of President Viktor Yushchenko. Therefore, he is well acquainted with the “circulatory” document management system in these structures and fully controls the passage of his especially important documents.
As for the competition between intelligence agencies, I must say: I had good interaction not only with the Foreign Intelligence Service, with the intelligence officers of the State Border Service, but also with the Security Service of Ukraine, as evidenced by a number of successful joint operations.
Modern challenges and threats to national security make the issue of interaction between the SIDD and other structures of the intelligence community of the state very relevant. By the way, many processes occurring in different intelligence services of Ukraine have much in common. And this is understandable, because the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, as well as other structures, are being reformed for the sole purpose: to improve the mechanism for fulfilling the assigned tasks based on the requirements of the time. Tasks and areas of activity they have different. But this does not mean at all that these processes in various intelligence structures are not interrelated. Therefore, an important problem is the deepening of the interaction between the special services. It is not so simple: according to analysts, it is necessary to raise the issue of system integration. First of all, it concerns the exchange of information between state intelligence agencies. The leading countries are already moving in this way, and, obviously, this is the civilized way of the development of military intelligence in the future. It should be a component of the whole system of ensuring national security.
- Can you get rid of the destructive influence of other countries in the information space of Ukraine?
“For this, it is necessary to consolidate our society around a single national idea, the essence of which is to strengthen and develop Ukraine as a powerful regional state, able to confidently defend its own interests and ensure its security. This, in turn, requires unconditional observance of the basic principles of Ukrainian statehood, in particular, preserving the unity of the national identity of the Ukrainian nation and the inviolability of our borders, preventing the federalization of the country and attempts to give the status of a state to other languages, banning dual citizenship, and preventing the loss of Ukrainian spiritual and cultural values under influence of external forces. In terms of the practical implementation of the above measures, it is vitally important for Ukraine to organize an active and offensive information campaign to defend one’s own interests and counter external information influence.
- What prompted you to create a non-state analytical structure, which is Borysfen? Are not all the niches of such activity in Ukraine yet occupied?
- The idea was being hatched for a long time, but there was no delay with the decision. At the beginning, the problem was purely technical: a place of work for employees, computers, and so on. It was not necessary to count on someone's help. But the reason for the creation, I think, is familiar to all the storerooms: after a serious, responsible position, where I often had to use my knowledge and experience, to maintain good “connections” not only in Ukraine, but in the world, I suddenly felt that it turned out to be nobody cares. And suddenly I had so much free time!
For twenty years of independence of our country, the real personnel catastrophe has become that with each change of power hundreds of professionals are thrown into the street, and “reliable guys” are appointed to replace them. It doesn't matter that they often do not have the necessary training. The main thing is that they are considered their own. I was “lucky” to experience such “cleansing” twice. For the first time - in 2004, when power was headed by President Viktor Yushchenko. True, he was smart enough then and soon he returned to the presidential secretariat mid-level specialists, on whose shoulders, as a rule, all the work rests. And then, thanks to Vladimir Pavlovich Gorbulin, the General Directorate for Security and Defense Policy, which is quite strong in professional terms, was created, I think. However, when the new president came to power, the old one was repeated история. Many, including me, were promised that we would not be left without work, but ...
It was on such a wave that the decision was made to create an analytical center, because its philosophy and content of work practically do not differ much from what I had to do all my conscious life: collecting and processing information, preparing an analytical product. The difference is one - today we use only open sources. And there, as you know, up to 90 percent of the necessary information. Just to be able to extract it. The problem is not where to get it, but to have the knowledge and experience for, as they say, the separation of the wheat from the chaff. This is where we come to the most important thing - the human resource, which in our center has become an analytical potential. These are former intelligence officers, diplomats, military journalists, who managed not to change their vocation. They did not, for example, go to the market to trade or go somewhere else, but took up the necessary business for the country, often to the detriment of their financial and family interests.
- To what extent do you think the threats to national security in the military and other spheres declared in Ukraine and even stated in a number of official documents are adequate to the existing realities?
- The Law “On the Fundamentals of the National Security of Ukraine,” in which the latest additions of this year concern corruption in government bodies, mergers of business and politics, and organized crime, list in detail the possible external and internal threats to national security. From my point of view, internal threats for Ukraine in the current conditions are decisive. Naturally, with them in the relationship and external threats. This primarily concerns the state of affairs in the Ukrainian economy, the imperfections of the civil society system, the progressive sociopolitical polarization of society, the devaluation of spiritual values, the criminalization of social relations. A special place here is occupied by corruption, which has practically hit all levels of government and state bodies.
- Without updating the arsenals, any army reform is doomed. In your opinion, will the Ukrainian defense complex be able to provide high-quality renewal of the weapons and military equipment fleet in the Armed Forces of Ukraine?
- The Ukrainian defense industry has practically all the possibilities for a high-quality upgrade of the country's weapons and equipment. Today, the military-industrial complex is able to produce a wide range of weapons and military equipment for the needs of the Ukrainian army - from airplanes to military aircraft, armored vehicles, missile weapons, precision weapons, and radar systems to warships.
The question is: is there enough financial resources in the state to fully modernize the equipment? Naturally, that is not enough. Therefore, it was decided to gradually upgrade equipment and weapons. As the Minister of Defense of Ukraine Pavel Lebedev recently stated, there will be money - there will be equipment.
- In the context of EU integration plans, do you see any threats to the future of the Ukrainian defense industry?
- And what are the threats? Russia has long been implementing the policy of closed-cycle production of weapons and military equipment. Ukraine is forced to move the same way. Although cooperation in this area is still high. This question is so politicized that Russia sometimes takes steps in this sensitive area to its own detriment. Remember engines for Motor Sich helicopters. But once common sense should win! After all, economic relations have long been transferred from the political-populist to the pragmatic-business ones. It will be profitable - they will cooperate, it will not be profitable - they will look for new ways and forms. But the Ukrainian defense industry complex did not survive due to difficult conditions, but in spite of. No one helped him: neither the state nor the partners from abroad. Although, we must honestly admit, despite all the political moments, the level of cooperation today with Russian colleagues is quite high.
- Do Ukrainian officials realize that the choice between Russia and the West for the sphere of military-technical cooperation of the country, where the share of the Russian Federation is the largest, may have negative consequences?
- I partially answered this question. The time of planning and international relations both in business as a whole and in the PTS is over. The time has come pragmatically capitalist. But in Ukrainian-Russian business affairs, they are still trying to play on contradictions and use business interests as drawing Ukraine into various political alliances with Russia.
- Is Ukrainian private business not afraid, which in the external economic sphere is focused mainly on Russia, to lose the Russian market in the context of the realities of European integration?
- Private business, maybe, will lose in the first stage. But this is a good stimulus for the transition from raw material production to high-tech production. After all, these challenges are facing not only Ukraine, but also Russia. Therefore, the opening of the EU market for the country will force us to wake up from lethargic sleep and understand that in times of globalization and lack of resources in the world, it is necessary to try to become those who realize this as quickly as possible and use our huge potential. But again, I come back to the fact that the authorities should have a real national elite, and my elite formula is those who sacrifice themselves, give themselves in the interests of the people, and not those who fell into power, regardless of the smallest position or the highest, for one purpose - to enrich. Therefore, as Taras Shevchenko used to say, let's see if Ukraine will wait for its Washington “to become a new and righteous law.” Although the process is underway. And, unfortunately, huge challenges lie ahead. They will answer if we are worthy to be a free and independent state, to be the master in our home.
- Are the business and political elites of Ukraine really interested in the reform of the army and other security agencies? Or does everything remain at the level of declarations, and the real factor of all changes will be preparation for the next presidential election?
- What are you talking about? You very well said business elites. The elites are primarily those, as I said above, who give themselves in the name of the state. And there are politicians, businessmen, scientists, and many others who represent our society. And if you say business elite, this is political corruption. Even in Russia, which is an example of an autocratic form of government, where business is fueling the current government and the conduct of its policies, oligarchs are in politics. Ukraine is a special state where business-political elites exist. Therefore, even in the title itself it is clear that business is in the first place, and then - the state.
- Will the real financial and economic situation in the country allow implementing the planned reforms in the Ukrainian Armed Forces? Or is there any chance of being limited to the famous “they wanted the best, but it turned out like always”?
- For a tick, maybe they will do something. But no more.
- How do you think the horror stories about the impending next global financial and economic crisis have a real basis?
- Today, most analysts say: all financial and economic processes in the world indicate that the second wave of the crisis has arrived. I think every citizen of Ukraine felt this. Without going into the macroeconomic figures, we see that the level of well-being of ordinary people is falling, the real estate market is not only frozen, but goes down, business projects are closing, etc. Abroad, the situation is similar.
- Is it possible to talk about the objective causes of the crisis in the global financial and economic sphere, or is it more correct that these crises are of artificial origin, skillfully prepared and just as professionally launched?
- Different reasons are indicated. Some analysts say: the crisis is just another round of the natural course of economic development, others say that there is nothing natural in the current crisis and specific people are to blame for it, but not the general laws of the development of the world economy. I generally like to read about various conspiracy theories, you can bring representatives of the Beldeberg Club here, especially since Western economists put Alan Greenspan, the former head of the US Federal Reserve Service, who was recently considered the guru of the American economy, to the first place that he brought the country out of the financial crises of 1987 and 2001 with minimal losses. However, now the opinion about him has changed dramatically. Greenspan is accused of not paying attention to the mortgage and rent market and, as a result, he is blaming the mortgage bubble in America, which launched the mechanism of the financial crisis. And so on.
You can talk about the mixed nature of the causes of the crisis, where the human factor plays an important role. But the main problem today is that the rich, not all, however, during this crisis have become even richer, and the poor - even poorer and they have become much more. And this applies to whole countries. If states like the United States are already on the verge of default, what can we talk about?
- What character of the above-mentioned crisis phenomena should be expected in the post-Soviet space?
- The post-Soviet space is very tightly tied to the dollar. If in the first wave of the crisis the harbingers of a downturn in the global economy were speculative prices of real estate and basic natural raw materials, then the first sign of the second wave of crisis will be the fall of the dollar. The second wave of crisis - how to save your capital? Therefore, it should be borne in mind that all financial markets that are based on the dollar will lose their strong positions in the world market or will fail altogether. Companies that did not have time to win a sufficiently strong place in the country's economy may disappear completely, that is, go bankrupt. Only large companies, enterprises and organizations that have managed to create their own powerful segment in one of the niches of the market for goods, services or production will manage and weigh in the political structures of the state.
“Media assessments do not leave assessments of the real state of relations between Ukraine and Russia, which are defined as an information war. Readers are interested to know your opinion on this matter.
- Not just an information war, but an information tsunami from Russia. All information space has long been occupied by it. Television presenters of state-run Russian channels are already tired of mocking not only Ukraine, but also its leadership. The broadcast is packed with Russian programs, book counters are crammed with Russian-language literature, the pro-Russian lobby in Ukraine feels better than in Russia. What can I say? Well done. This is the way to protect your nation, your state. What are we? Slaves. Much more needs to be done to change the slave psychology. But that which has been imposed on us for centuries cannot be changed in one day. I think: sooner or later our Ukrainian Moses will appear.
I can give an example of active information warfare from my biography. In 2011, the book by Oleg Glazunov “Georgian Intelligence: Secret War against Russia” was published in Russia, in which the author writes: “... according to Russian intelligence services, a group of Ukrainian military intelligence officers led by Colonel Viktor Gvozd, an employee of the GUR of Ukraine, took part in the events in South Ossetia ". Of course, I am pleased that he calls me further a professional, but this is a complete nonsense of the author, especially since at that time I was at the other end of Europe. What is this if not an example of the information war, where in one fell swoop the head of intelligence of another state was accused, and indeed the country as a whole in participation in the war. This is all done in the spirit of Soviet-KGB propaganda, where all means are good for achieving its goal. Do you think this will add constructivism to the relations between our countries? I think not. Only turn many away from such fraternal friendship.
- What is your forecast for the future of the Black Sea Fleet in the Crimea?
- Today I would not focus on this topic. The question of Sevastopol for Russia is not so much a military-strategic and territorial as a psychological-image one. Since its founding, Sevastopol has been a naval fortress in the south of Russia, and since the end of the XNUMXth century it has been the main base of the Black Sea fleet, and its loss is a huge geostrategic blow and loss for Russia is even greater than the collapse of the USSR. Therefore, we must treat this calmly and with understanding, and not provoke our friends. Time will put everything in place.
From the point of view of the importance of Sevastopol as a naval base in the Black Sea, where the Russian fleet is actually blocked by NATO forces through the control of the Bosporus and Dardanelles and loses in combat capabilities, it is of no value. From the point of view of demonstrating power as a regional leader in the post-Soviet space and as a tool for Moscow to scare Georgia, Ukraine or someone else, maybe it makes sense. From the point of view of international law, Sevastopol is the territory of Ukraine and this can only be changed by force. And this is another story. Especially every year, Sevastopol is becoming more and more a tourist city. Therefore, as a former military intelligence chief, I am well aware that Russia in Novorossiysk has practically already built a modern naval base, where sooner or later the headquarters and ships of the Black Sea Fleet will be withdrawn. The question is only time.
Gvozd Viktor Ivanovich. Lieutenant-General, Honored Lawyer of Ukraine.
1981 – 1993 - service in command and staff positions in units and units of intelligence of the USSR and Ukraine.
1993 – 1995 - participation in UN peacekeeping operations in the territory of the former Yugoslavia.
1996 – 1999 - Defense Attache at the Embassy of Ukraine in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (part-time).
1999 – 2000 - Deputy Head of the Military Diplomatic Department of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
2000 – 2003 - a representative of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine in the PPU at the UN, a member of the Ukrainian delegation to the UN Security Council.
2003 – 2005 - in senior positions in the Security Service of Ukraine and the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine.
2005 – 2008 - in the civil service: head of the department of programs of the Main Security Service and Defense Policy Secretariat of the President of Ukraine.
2008 – 2010 - Head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
Since 2012 - President of the independent analytical center for geopolitical research Borysfen Intel.