After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine received a truly magnificent army - three very strong military districts of the second strategic echelon and three air armies (not counting the powerful arsenal of strategic nuclear forces), the total number of which was about 800 thousand people. Moreover, the troops were equipped with a huge amount of the most modern military equipment. In count tanks (more than 6,1 thousand) and combat aircraft (more than 1,1 thousand) Ukraine occupied the fourth place in the world after the USA, Russia and China.
Now almost everyone has forgotten how much at the beginning of 90's in our media there were horror stories about a possible war between Russia and Ukraine. But in the event of such a war, the army of Ukraine would have a significant superiority over the Russian Armed Forces in the European part of the country: we got mostly weak third-tier districts with cropped divisions and outdated equipment, as well as groups of troops "hovering" in Eastern Europe, randomly withdrawn "in pure field. " Even after Washington and Moscow conquered Kiev and persuaded him to abandon the nuclear weapons, it almost did not change anything - the starting conditions for military construction in Ukraine were simply luxurious, definitely the best among all countries of the former USSR.
Especially in view of the most powerful personnel potential and highly developed military industrial complex. Ukraine received at least 700 enterprises of the Soviet military-industrial complex and was able to produce almost any equipment. In particular, it turned out to be a monopolist in the post-Soviet space for the production of heavy liquid intercontinental ballistic missiles and launch vehicles, aircraft carriers, heavy military transport aircraft and helicopter engines.
The crushing defeat of the army in the post-Soviet period by the leadership of their own country definitely has no analogues in modern stories. All four presidents made a “feasible contribution” to it, it was absolutely wrongful to blame everyone on one Yanukovich, as it is now fashionable in Ukraine, since it was during his time that any attempts were made to “reanimate” the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The degradation of the Argentinean Armed Forces can be considered a very distant analogue, but they still did not have such power as the Ukrainian Armed Forces at the beginning of the 90, and their collapse stretched out for a much longer period. Post-Soviet Ukraine had a low, but still not entirely insignificant GDP, and for arms exports, as a rule, it was in the top ten world (for 90% it was a sale of equipment from the armed forces, but the country received money). The fact that at the same time almost no money was allocated for combat training and no new equipment was acquired for its own aircraft (and even the existing one was almost not repaired) - this is something prohibitive.
However, a huge role in the collapse of the army was played by what the state as a whole undermined — corruption. A striking example of this phenomenon was the history of the operational-tactical missile complex "Sapsan", which was created for the Ukrainian army. In 2007-2013, more than 200 million UAH was spent on it (about 1 billion rubles). However, during this time, not only a prototype was not created, but the documentation was not even developed. As a result, the project had to close. In fact, 100% allocated to it - and very considerable for the Armed Forces of Ukraine - money was simply stolen.
It is quite natural that the current mobilization has completely failed, although it managed to turn from “universal” into “partial”. During it, military units and military registration and enlistment offices demeaningly asked to help "who with what can", like beggars in the Moscow metro, seriously rejoicing at the same time in amounts of several hundred hryvnia. Apparently, the new Kiev authorities initially had intentions to liberate Crimea by military means. But for literally two or three days it became clear that the Ukrainian army was not capable of anything at all.
At the same time, it confirmed what was long and well known - the viciousness of the formation of the Armed Forces according to the local principle. Of course, when the majority of the rank and file serve not far from home, this saves significant funds on transportation, and if the army is also poor, then on food, the parents will feed the soldier. However, this is all convenient only in peacetime. The quick and unconditional surrender of the Ukrainian group in the Crimea was greatly facilitated by the fact that up to 70% of the personnel were Crimeans, imbued with the same deeply pro-Russian mood as the population of the peninsula as a whole.
Further prospects of the humiliated and collapsed Ukrainian army do not seem bright. Attempts by the new government to increase military spending will only strike at the economy of the country, which is now, to put it mildly, in a far better position. In addition, other causes of the collapse of the army have not been eliminated - corruption, degradation of the training and management system, a very bad morale of the personnel, which only worsened even more due to the Crimean humiliation (aggravated by the return of all Ukrainian equipment by Russia) and outright insanity "mobilization". Increased costs without a radical change in approaches will simply be thrown to the wind. And the symptoms of this are already observed. The new governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, the largest Ukrainian oligarch, Igor Kolomoisky, announced that he would finance the “Crimean campaign” of those units of the Ukrainian army that could at least take the equipment out of the gate. It is not entirely clear how this promise was fulfilled, but the company owned by Kolomoisky was suddenly announced without any competition a supplier of fuel and lubricants for the Ukrainian Armed Forces. It is interesting that deliveries will be conducted at prices about one and a half times higher than retail prices at Ukrainian gas stations.
Of course, not only Ukraine lost the Crimean campaign, it was also lost by NATO, which again demonstrated its absolute incapacity in the event of a collision with a serious adversary. Once again, it makes no sense to describe what NATO brought itself to itself. Those who still do not understand this, apparently, are not able to understand anything at all. In countries that rushed to NATO especially actively and successfully, this understanding has come a long time ago. As one Polish newspaper wrote remarkably, “Thanks to Putin for another reminder to us that the current NATO is not even a paper tiger, but a soap bubble.” Verily, neither subtract nor add. Only two questions arise. Will we continue to bully ourselves with a soap bubble? And some countries of the former USSR will continue to hope that the bubble will ever protect them from anything? Surprisingly, the answers to both questions are likely to be positive. And most of all, those two countries that the alliance “has thrown under the full program” of Georgia and Ukraine will rush into NATO will be. And our paranoids will wait for “NATO bases near Kharkov”, count “American aircraft carriers in the Black Sea” and write kilometers of delusions about this. It turns out that NATO is not primarily a Western military organization, but our psychological diagnosis in the whole of the former USSR. As for NATO, which continues to consider itself a Western military organization, if something extraordinary does not happen (and it probably will not happen), it will itself tell a fairy tale about how the alliance and determination of the alliance prevented Russia from invading continental Ukraine. After that, calm down and continue self-reduction.
In this regard - one more remark. The authorities of Ukraine and Georgia constantly declare their adherence to “European values”. And at the same time, they continue to seriously believe that they will receive the protection that NATO will provide them. It is time to realize that the current European values categorically do not imply the possibility of sacrificing life for the sake of protecting even yourself, your family and your country, and it’s simply out of the question to die to protect some Ukrainians and Georgians.
REFORMS WERE NOT DIFFICULT
A special component of the NATO failure during the Crimean campaign was Russia's achievement of total surprise in the operation in question. And this is despite the fact that all Western intelligence services closely watched the events both in Ukraine and in the North Caucasus (because of the Olympic Games in Sochi, where they seriously expected terrorist attacks and the evacuation of athletes).
In contrast to Ukraine and NATO, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation have proved themselves in this conflict magnificently. In full accordance with Sun Tzu’s covenants, they won without a battle, first suppressing surprise and then absolute superiority. Not numerical, but superiority in technique and preparation. Despite all the colossal problems described above, Ukrainian soldiers and officers are still not so bad warriors to capitulate so meekly. They realized that they simply did not have any chances against “polite people”.
At the same time, just 5 years ago, the Russian army differed little from the Ukrainian one (the Strategic Missile Forces were an exception, but they were not intended for local wars anyway). Yes, she won the war against Georgia in a good style, but it must be admitted that the Georgians are not the enemy, victory over which must be greatly deceived. In addition, the Chechen battalions played a big role in that victory. The turning point occurred precisely in the last 5 years.
In this regard, it is impossible not to note that even if Sergey Kuzhugetovich is a man of seven spans in his forehead, he could not physically change the army in such a magical way in less than a year and a half of his current post. For such a short period of time, it is impossible for anyone on this planet to change such a huge, complicated mechanism as much as the RF Armed Forces.
It is quite possible that Anatoly Serdyukov is the most corrupt person in Russia. In this case, he certainly should be punished. His measures in the role of the Minister of Defense, such as the total transformation of divisions into brigades, experiments with military education and military medicine, the Air Force home system, the purchase of Mistral, the transfer of the Navy headquarters to St. Petersburg and much more, were completely unjustified.
Nevertheless, the revival of the Armed Forces began under Serdyukov. It was during his time that there was a significant improvement in the material situation and living conditions of servicemen, it was under him that there was a sharp intensification of combat training, it was under him that new equipment began to arrive in the troops in significant quantities. The current minister makes many adjustments to his predecessor’s policies, but generally follows the same course. We must be able to be fair and understand that crimes do not negate merit. If Serdyukov “collapsed the army,” as we almost all believe, then the Sevastopol and Simferopol now would still have fluttered banners.
As stated in the article “Crimea is a catastrophe with the opposite sign” (“NVO”, No. 13 for 2014 a year), international law, in fact, ceased to exist. This fact is extremely sad, although in the case of the Crimea, this circumstance has brought us some benefit. Under these conditions, military force again becomes the decisive argument of world politics. The West himself invented a fairy tale about the invincibility of his “soft power”, while losing sight of the fact that soft power means nothing, if not supported by hard power. And in Asia, where the geopolitical center of the world has shifted, they value and understand exceptionally hard power. And all the stories about the "wars of the new generation" that pass without direct armed confrontation should not be taken too literally. You can win without war only if you have what you will win the war.
In this regard, about any savings in military spending is out of the question. Yes, they should not be exorbitant, but exorbitability in the foreseeable future does not threaten us. The Russian Armed Forces need total rearmament. It has just begun and has already brought victory. However, many of our military units still have the same scrap metal as in the Ukrainian army (unless our scrap metal is somewhat better served). And it should not be anywhere, from Baltiysk to Kamchatka and from Vladivostok to Pechenga. And the level of combat training, although significantly increased, but still very far from ideal, therefore, this process requires further intensification. All this is very expensive. But “saving” is always much more expensive, as Ukraine has so remarkably demonstrated to us. She saved a lot on the army, so now she has no army, no money, no Crimea. The most expensive is always the army, which save.
In addition, it is necessary to finally abandon the earnest belief in nuclear deterrence. Imagine that Ukraine at the beginning of 90-s would not give up nuclear weapons and would be able to keep at least 10% of that arsenal in a functional state. Would she have a nuclear strike on Moscow? Or for "polite people" in the Crimea? Hardly. It is necessary to realize the fact that nuclear weapons are practically not applicable. Yes, it is absolutely impossible to abandon it (and you don’t have to tell yourself tales about the “nuclear-free world,” there will never be one). But its use is the passage through multiple “points of no return” at once. Accordingly, it can only be used in a situation where there is absolutely nothing to lose and it is necessary to choose between the terrible and the monstrous. In order not to bring yourself to such a situation, you need to have ordinary armed forces, adequate to all potential threats, not only fictional, but real.
As for the source of money for the army, social programs, Crimea, etc., it is. You just need to curb corruption at least by half. The fate of Yanukovich in conjunction with the view of his summer cottage in Mezhyhiria is another important lesson of the Crimean campaign. Very many need to learn it well. And do not forget that it is impossible to organize any color revolution from the outside if there are no very serious objective prerequisites for it inside the country. As in the same Ukraine.