Disappointing news for Ukrainian militarists has arrived: between January and June 2018, 11,000 officers and contract soldiers were discharged from or quit the Ukrainian Armed Forces. These figures have been unveiled by Ukrainian Military Pages, which has cited reports from Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense.
According to these figures, by the end of 2018, the Ukrainian Armed Forces might not even number 18,000 servicemen. The main reason for this exodus, or more precisely for 36% of all dismissals, is low pay for military service. Due to mass lay-offs, Ukraine’s defense ministry has been compelled to increase the cash minimum starting October 1st 2018, for which approximately 4.5 billion Hryvnia from Kiev’s bankrupt budget will have to be allocated to pay for the cash collateral in the second half of 2018.
This report only surprises people who are not familiar with the problem that is the Ukrainian military. Ukrainian military blogs and opposition media have long been drawing attention to this issue. For example, Apostrof, a publication close to the Nazi street movements, last fall published an interview with Azov leader Andrey Biletsky, who claimed that around a third of officers had been let go from from the “Anti-Terrorist Operation” (Ukraine’s jingoism for its war on Donbass, which is now termed Operation United Forces).
These figures, exposed by such a knowledgeable insider as Biletsky, match the new official defense ministry data. Biletsky, of course, cites somewhat different reasons for the UAF’s catastrophic decline: first and foremost discontent with the environment that prevails in the former ATO, such as incompetence and corruption among the Ukrainian military leadership.
Biletsky is, in my opinion, cunning. He considers himself the potential fuhrer of Ukraine and counts on the support of military circles. Hence why he is ennobling the motivation of the officer corps, whereas what I would say the real reason for the mass layoffs in the army is financial.
Meanwhile, according to reports from my friends in the army of the Donetsk People’s Republic, over the past several months two trends have been identified among Ukrainian troops. The first is a noticeable growth of militaristic attitudes (especially among the newbies who did not go through the battles in Donbass in 2014-2015 and the “cauldrons”), and desire for revenge for Ukraine’s humiliating defeats at the hands of the DPR and LPR. The second trend is the outflow of experienced soldiers (officers and “contractors”). The most professional and sober Ukrainian troops have displayed if not panic, then disturbance over the possibility of a new war, in which Russia will intervene. This war would devalue the already small financial benefits of Ukrainian military work, and Ukrainians would pay with their lives.
But is the collapse of the Ukrainian military machine imminent? I forecast “no.” Ukraine has a system of emergency training (lasting three months) officers in place at universities and public institutions. These “raw”, professionally weak, young officers will simply be sent in to replace the departed experienced staff of Ukraine’s war. As war approaches, the Ukrainian defense ministry will merely unleash forced mobilizations for ex-officers. This could be a source for acute, heightened discontent with the Kiev regime.