Sunday, December 11, 2016

Corruption allegations and unwillingness to change taint Ukraine military – BBC

December 10, 2016 (BBC NEWS) While some changes have been felt, many doubt the defence sector can be completely reformed. Viktor Plakhuta couldn't take the corruption in Ukraine's defence sector any longer. A former financial services worker, he was part of a wave of young, idealistic Ukrainians who entered government after the country's 2014 pro-Western revolution. He joined the department responsible for military procurement and reform in the ministry of economic development and trade.
But after 10 months he resigned, angry at what he said was widespread corruption and a lack of will to do anything about it.
"In the department, I was just carrying out tasks that fulfilled other people's personal interests and corruption," he said.
According to him, defence contracts were regularly inflated or given to insiders, and those who benefited reached the highest levels of power. Yet the conflict with Russian-backed separatists forces in the east has made Ukraine's military competence a vital national issue. Now Mr Plakhuta and other reformers are focusing on the defence industry. If they are right, and top officials are indeed illegally enriching themselves from the war effort, it could seriously damage the credibility of President Petro Poroshenko's government. All this comes at a time when Kyiv is growing worried that US President-elect Donald Trump might abandon Ukraine in favour of Russia, and the EU is struggling to bring an end to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

Training with Grad rockets: Sporadic clashes continue between Ukraine's military and proRussian rebels

Ukrainian officials say they are launching a major reform of the defence industry, including a restructuring of Ukroboronprom, the state-owned defence holding company. Some changes, especially in equipment and supplies, have been felt. When the war began, Ukraine's army barely existed; now it has fought the Russian-backed militants to a standstill. But many doubt the defence sector can be completely reformed, given that the law on state secrets will most likely stay in place for some time.
Kyiv has also been pushing hard for the West to provide it weapons. But the potential for corruption has given Western officials and arms companies serious second thoughts. "The system is rigged," said the defence industry insider. The full article is available at