Ukraine’s Defence Ministry: we’re going down

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence has announced that its military budget for 2009 is insufficient and if not increased will lead to the actual destruction of its armed forces.

The Ukrainian military is suffering from a two-fold drop in the number of combat-ready units, a sharp decline in the operability of high-tech weapons, no of ordnance replacements and, finally, the professional demoralisation of its servicemen compounded by mass dismissals.

The Defence Ministry stresses that it made a request for 32.4 billion hrivnas (about $3.85 billion), which was estimated to be enough for full-scale battle drills, as well as the material support of its personnel. It also requested 17.5 billion ($2.1 billion) more for the support of the existing state of the armed forces.

But Ukraine’s parliament budget for 2009 allocated just 11.65 billion hrivnas for the military, of which 4.2 billion hrivnas are supposed to come from the sale of the army’s ‘redundant’ property. Thus, the available funds, Ukraine’s top brass argues, are barely enough to support the military.

The military budged for 2008 was also paltry and kept the Ukranian army hanging on the brink of collapse.

It must be mentioned that earlier Ukraine’s 2009 budget was fiercely criticized by Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, ex-finance minister Viktor Pinzenik and a number of experts from the IMF. All agreed that implementation of the budget approved by Ukraine’s parliament was practically impossible.

Now, the government of Yulia Timoshenko is expected to revise the budget to drastically reduce expenses – including social protection.

Meanwhile, on January 29 energy companies started to shut off Ukraine’s air defence control units and other defence facilities over unpaid debts.