UKRAINE PREPARES A NEW PHASE OF MILITARY CONSTRUCTION IN THE SEA

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Following the radical reform of the Interior Ministry and abolishment of the road patrol department, the Ukrainian leadership has focused on plans aimed at improving the security structures, including the Armed Forces. First moves will be aimed at cutting the strength of the Army and Navy. Ukraine has already started disbanding a naval squadron commanded by Rear Admiral Igor Tenyukh, who has submitted his resignation papers. He stated that he does not want to participate in ruining the Navy. The media reports that the commander of the squadron was one of the first high-ranking officers who supported the orange revolution in December 2004. He is a very experienced officer. He studied at the Academy of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the US Naval Academy. He created the naval squadron – the most powerful group in the Ukrainian Navy. No one knows what Ukraine plans to create on its basis. Ukraine has not yet prepared military construction plans.

It should be noted that the General Staff and the Defense Ministry argue over these plans. Sergei Kirichenko, Chief of the General Staff, thinks that it is a correct decision to disband the naval squadron. Ukraine does not intend to become a naval power, and its warships will operate only near the shore. In this regard, the Navy will not build new cruisers and submarines. Kirichenko recently stated that the General Staff plans to suspend construction of the Ukraine missile cruiser and sell it to a foreign customer. The 2004 budget, allocated an insubstantial sum for completing the warship. Its readiness was 96%. Ukraine needed 150 million grivnas to complete the warship.

The Nikolayev plant started building the missile cruiser in 1984, for the Soviet Navy. Its cost amounted to $600 million at that time.

Ukraine hopes to sell the missile cruiser to Russia, China or India for $300 to $400 million. On the one hand, Russia needs such a warship. However, it can build a missile cruiser at its own plants. Meanwhile, Russia could take the warship as repayment of Ukraine’s oil and gas debt. However, no one discusses this scenario yet. This scheme is unprofitable for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry because it needs “cash” (the cost of the warship amounts to a third of the defense budget).

It seems that reformers of the Defense ministry are prepared to sell the Navy’s last submarine. The General Staff opposes such plans. It seems that a scandal between the chief of the General Staff and Defense Minister Anatoly Gritsenko is gathering pace. Kirichenko thinks that Ukraine needs the submarine for teaching servicemen to track and destroy enemy submarines.

He stated, “We must repair and return it to the Navy.” It should be noted that the submarine does not contribute to Ukraine’s security. Firstly, it is obsolete. Secondly, it is not combat ready.

The Zaporozhye submarine was built and launched on May 29, 1970. Before the submarine was part of the Northern fleet, and was passed over to the Black Sea fleet in 1990. It joined the Ukrainian Navy in 1997. The Submarine has never put to sea since that time. The submarine was relocated to the Sevastopol bay in February 2003. The displacement of the submarine is 1,950 tons on the surface (underwater displacement is 2,500 tons). The speed is 16.4 knots (underwater speed is 16 knots). Length – 91 meters. The submarine is armed with torpedoes and mines.

In other words, substantial changes will happen in the Ukrainian Navy in the near future. Such reforms will affect all branches of the Armed Forces. This topic was discussed at the collegium of the Defense Ministry in Kyiv last week. It became known at the collegium that the Ukrainian Defense Ministry intends to submit a bill, which will determine the strength of the Armed Forces. It will be reduced from 260,000 to 145,000 people; 20,000 of them will be civil workers. The strength of the Navy will amount to 15% of the total strength of the Armed Forces. In other words, the Navy will consist of only two or three brigades, which will operate near the shore in the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov and in the Danube River.

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