The biggest news of the week is Poroshenko’s decision to not to implement the 7th wave of mobilization. Ukraine’s Mussolini explained that the move was motivated by the relative calm on the Donbass. Instead, the funding originally earmarked for mobilization purposes will be used to…recruit career soldiers. While one can suspect an effort to deceive, Poroshenko also issued orders to demobilize some of the earlier waves, which will have the combined effect of greatly reducing the UAF’s manpower levels. The refusal to implement the 7th wave is also a tacit admission the 6th wave was a dismal failure, which is suggested by a ton of circumstantial evidence.
That is not the only recent story reflecting Poroshenko’s recently developed dim view of the UAF’s capabilities. Explaining why NATO has not provided the UAF with weapons, Poroshenko said that he was told Ukraine has no army to speak of, and the forces which exist are both penetrated with Russian agents and corrupt, so that any weapons provided by NATO would quickly be stolen.
Poroshenko is not the only prominent Ukrainian figure to express doubts in Ukraine’s war-making capacity. Anatoliy Pavlenko of the National Institute of Strategic Studies bluntly told his national audience not to believe politicians’ claims concerning Ukraine’s military power. In actuality, Pavlenko argued, Ukraine has zero chance of military success in any conflict involving Russia. The only hope is a support from abroad.
Indeed, there are indications that the country’s leadership is viewing Ukraine’s armed forces not as an instrument of warfare but as a threat to its own political power. SBU announced the arrest of MVD volunteer battalion Slobozhanshchina commander Andrey Yangolenko, a Ukrainian “career Nazi” originally from UNSO who had hoped his battalion to become a special counter-terror and anti-riot formation to replace the Berkut. Instead, Yangolenko found himself accused of attempting to assassinate his benefactor, MVD minister Avakov, and several Rada deputies.
Such conflicts are nothing new, at either low or high levels. The Right Sector has once again clashed with the UAF in the vicinity of Volnovakha after a local strongman attempted to use the Right Sector to disperse a local city council which in turn prompted Ukrainian soldiers to become involved.
The bigger problem affecting the UAF is the low morale and discipline combined with heavy alcohol use. It recently resulted in several deaths and injuries after a quarrel between several 92nd Mechanized Brigade soldiers ended when one of them threw a hand grenade at a group of his “comrades in arms.” Many of the soldiers participating in the fight deserted from the unit.
The reasons for the low morale are not hard to find. For example, a recent report of a tank unit stationed near Mariupol and receiving awards showed how the raggedly dressed tank crewmembers were issued actual tank crew overalls as a reward for their service!
The living conditions of the troops are likewise pretty squalid.
The 37th Motorized Battalion of the 93rd Brigade complained to the media that it is being relocated to a base where the conditions are absolutely unsuitable for human existence, as reflected by the photograph.
Therefore it’s no surprise UAF soldiers are voting with their feet to go home, cross over to Novorossia, or even attempt to enter Russian territory, as one more member of Ukraine’s Border Guard fled to Crimea last week.
The equipment situation continues to be dire. A recent article noted the collapse of Ukraine’s helicopter fleet due to the loss of the Lugansk Aviation Repair Plant and the severing of ties with Russia which were necessary to maintain Ukraine’s fleet of Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters. Plans to involve foreign firms in Ukrainian helicopter modernization likewise came to nothing.
About the only exception is the launching of a production line of Dozor-B armored cars at the Lvov Armored Vehicle Repair Plant. However, these vehicles cannot be considered replacements for BMP and BTR types, as their ability to survive on the battlefield is very limited. Moreover, while the Lvov plant hopes to make tens of these vehicles per year, so far only four have been built. Furthermore, the vehicles are using foreign-manufactured engines, though the Lvov plant representatives did not identify the supplier. Considering that the Dozor-B bears a striking similarity to a Polish armored vehicle, it may be that these engines are being supplied by Poland.