Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov’s Speech at the Operational Meeting of the Administrative Board of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

February 22, 2017

Important Issues of Ukraine’s National Security

Mr. President of Ukraine, Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Generals, Admirals and Officers!

For the third year in a row, an undeclared war against Ukraine is going on. At a heavy cost, at the expense of lives of Ukraine’s best children, our society, volunteers and the state, especially the Armed Forces and other military formations, did manage to stop the enemy.

Fighting for the complete liberation of Ukraine continues. But the struggle is not waged only in Ukraine.

The world order is collapsing before our eyes. The unity of the West based on the principles of freedom and democracy is experiencing unprecedented challenges. The world order formed after the Second World War is changing dramatically. The outlines of its new model are not determined yet. But returning to the past is impossible: neither to the cherished by the Kremlin Soviet era, nor to the West’s “golden” period at the end of the 20th century.

For the first time in history, a large-scale change of technological modes is taking place in the globalized world, which dramatically increases both its benefits and risks, while the opportunities to neutralize them at the national level are objectively limited. New political and socio-economic realities have been created, to which the leading countries’ governments have not responded adequately.

Transnational corporations, especially in the sphere of information technologies, which become increasingly separated from the national “roots”, shape the global economy. National governments are losing the abilities to influence them. A global multinational society is being formed. The planet is enwrapped in the communications network, beyond which the modern society cannot function.
More and more state functions, associated with the use of force, especially abroad, are carried out by private companies. The activities of international terrorist organizations and organized criminal groupings have assumed an unprecedented scale and some of them even take up the states’ functions on huge territories.

Terrorist organizations like the Islamic State cannot be defeated only by bombing and raids of special forces, first of all because they are based not just on organizational relations but also on the doctrinally-ideological foundation. Failure to understand this will not allow to neutralize this dangerous threat completely.

New information technologies are transforming social communication and thereby are changing societies. Traditional media is increasingly giving way to social networks. The filters, that yesterday complicated the spread of false information and harming psychological effects, are disappearing. Today, even a crazy person can become a “star” of the Internet and then influence the moods of millions and thereby – the state policy.

State hierarchy is supplemented and sometimes substituted with networks, which are more chaotic in their nature. This reduces the resilience and stability of the system and demands from those who are to channel key social processes in a constructive direction, radically new approaches, knowledge, and skills.

Current trends in the USA indicate the struggle of the two basic approaches to the development and implementation of foreign policy. The first, traditional one, is based on the idea of the USA as a global leader, while the other suggests focusing mainly on its own problems, and returning to the so-called policy of isolationism.

The USA’s retreat from global leadership can provoke other states to try and create or expand their own areas of influence. We can expect further destabilization, particularly in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and other regions. The strengthening of global clashes threatens with the emergence of a global conflict.

The crisis of the European Union is deepening. The migration crisis, the Greek debt crisis, the Netherlands’ referendum on the Association Agreement with Ukraine, Brexit, the growing influence of radical, anti-European forces and movements, – all these seemingly unrelated events are a direct consequence of the conflict between pan-European (as they are understood in Brussels) and national interests.

Great Britain’s exit from the European Union does not mean that it ceased to be a European country – as well as Norway and Switzerland that have never been the EU members. There is more to the European idea than just the project of the European Union: European values are not equal to political concepts and bureaucratic structures.

Unwillingness to reconsider the familiar doctrines, attempts to avoid really effective steps, striving to respond to new challenges using traditional tools lead to the increasing growth of distrust of elites. All this provokes disbelief in democracy, fuels authoritarianism and fundamentalism, strengthens dictatorships and tyrannies.

For example, the Russian leadership is trying to consolidate society by fueling imperial-chauvinist hysteria and exporting its internal problems abroad. Having occupied the Crimea and having launched a direct military aggression in the Donbas, the Kremlin provoked an international security crisis, a rapid growth of international terrorism, and strengthening of severe security threats. Despite all the efforts of the world community, Russia is not going to stop its aggressive policy. The latest evidence of this was the decree of the Russian President on de-facto recognition of the DPR/LPR terrorist entities. As the Kremlin Spokesman Peskov boldly stated: “The terrorists will never be short of munition”.

Again, as in Soviet times, Russia is waging a hybrid war, which means a comprehensive and coordinated, subordinated to a single plan, use of politico-diplomatic, economic, energy, information- propaganda, cyber, military and other subversive activities. Moreover, the war is waged not only against Ukraine but against the West in general and against Europe in particular. Let us recall Russia’s military operation in Syria, which led to a massive flow of migrants to the EU, the provocative actions of the Russian Air Force and Navy, the Kremlin’s propaganda in the United States and the EU states, Russian hackers’ blatant interference with the electoral process in the USA, Germany, France and the preparation of the referendum in the Netherlands, the attempted coup in Montenegro, etc.

Ukraine is the key theater of Russia’s hybrid war. Another dangerous attempt of reformatting the lands of the former Russian empire is taking place. Without conquering our state, the Kremlin cannot successfully develop its further expansion. The unprecedented political pressure, almost blatant subversive activities within the state, direct financing of radical political organizations, furious propaganda, cyber-attacks, trade and energy wars, blockade of transit – all these measures complement the military intervention in the East of Ukraine. The armed forces and security services of the Russian Federation have turned the Ukrainian Donbas into a ground for testing modern tactical techniques, newest military equipment, especially communications, control, reconnaissance and electronic warfare tools, for training of tactical and operational officers. Simultaneously in Syria, the Russian Federation is mastering a coordinated use of land, aerospace and naval groups.

In this day and age, military force becomes the main instrument for implementing Russia’s neo-imperial foreign policy. I will not repeat the things you know, but Russia is deliberately throwing crazy money on the deployment of troops, their modernization and training, ignoring the needs of economic development and urgent social problems.

The war against Ukraine becomes an important step in the Russian Federation’s preparation for a great war and demonstration of the claims to world domination and redistribution of influence in the world.

Despite sanctions and economic turmoil, the Russian Federation will long remain a source of military aggression, security threats and a generator of instability.

In general, the situation in the world and in Europe is rapidly complexifying, the strategic uncertainty is increasing, which puts forward special demands to the quality of public policy.
Since the 1990s, there has been much talk in Ukraine about obtaining a formal candidate status and later becoming a member of the European Union. Some people even turned this talk into their profession and profitable business. However, the task of a deep modernization of the Ukrainian society based on European values of freedom and the rule of law was substituted with the fulfillment of formal requirements of the EU and other international organizations.

But our society is not in need of tales about a bright European future “here and now”, promises of everything and at once, it needs a frank and honest dialogue. The Ukrainians have repeatedly proved their maturity, thus sincerity should become an imperative of the state policy and a prerequisite for strengthening the society’s trust.

It is necessary to realize that destruction of the system of collective security has already happened. And Ukraine felt this especially acutely. Until the new world order is created, each state has to protect its interests itself. At this, the stronger ones seek to do so at the expense of others. Unfortunately, some of our partners often treat Ukraine as a sort of “round timber”, that is, a raw-material appendage, security problems of which are far from their priorities and are only our own problem.

Under these circumstances, we need to clearly determine our priorities. Only a strong national state with mighty Armed Forces, other military formations, reliable security and defense sector can ensure a survival and development of independent Ukraine.

Building such a state should become our key priority. A state capable of defending the Ukrainians’ vital interests – state sovereignty, freedom, and dignity, ensuring economic development, use of innovative technologies and new markets. At this, we should be guided by our national interests and not by 20-year-old ideas formulated under absolutely different circumstances.

The social model that was formed in Ukraine in the 1990s, is characterized by the monopolization of the key spheres of social and economic life, dominance of shadow mechanisms to coordinate clan interests, and involvement of public institutions in the extensive system of corruption ties. Its essential characteristic is “dissaving at the expense of the future”. By reducing investments into further development, Ukraine risks to repeat the mistake of the USSR and for the second time to “miss” the change of technological paradigms.

The processes of degradation of healthcare, education, science, which began back in the 1970s, continues. Despite the maintenance or even the increase of quantitative indicators in education, its quality, especially in the natural and technical fields, has decreased significantly. Legitimation and promotion of pseudoscientific concepts continue. Faith in astrology, magic, witchcraft is being spread, which reflects the degradation of public conscience.

After 2010, social standards and prestige of civil service have been decreasing, which has already led to the loss of competitiveness of the profession of a civil servant. The new Law of Ukraine “On Civil Service” did not solve but only recorded this trend. Unsystematic selective application of anti-corruption legislation turns this strategic issue into the ground for political PR and come-and-go manner.

An important role in the destructive processes is played by populist and radical political forces and quasi-organizations that disguise as civil society institutions. They are trying to seize the functions of developing public policy and managing the public sector of the economy, in no way being responsible for the decisions imposed by them in an ultimatum-like manner, providing solutions to purely narrowly political corporate lobbying tasks or even openly working for the aggressor state. All this leads to the increase of public distrust of state institutions, which they successfully exploit themselves.

Delaying decisive actions to build a strong Ukrainian state has enabled the growth of raiding and unpunished violence, erosion of the state’s monopoly on the legitimate use of force, and emergence of politicized paramilitary formations.

Today, the resource of declarations, cosmetic reforms, and half-steps is already depleted. Either new approaches to address systematic problems are proposed and implemented or the devastating scenario prepared by the Kremlin will be carried out. “Maidan-3” will be inevitably accompanied by mass violence. Any governing structure established as its result will rely mainly on force, will have no internal and external legitimacy, so in order to exist it will have to severely suppress democratic freedoms. In a few months, this will lead to a complete disruption of the state, destruction of the economy, explosion of crime, intensification of separatist manifestations and will eventually pave the way for Russia’s occupation of a significant part of the Ukrainian territory. Obviously, this is the result expected by some advocates of this idea.

The only realistic alternative to this destructive scenario is to consolidate around the current principles of constitutional order, around the idea of controlled modernization of the state based on political and economic freedoms, and the rehabilitation of the whole system of social relations on this basis.

The public attention should be focused on the present and future problems, not on those of the past. Realism and frankness in assessing the situation and proposed actions are needed.
We should stop manipulating golden illusions of “bright European future right now”, realizing that the dream about Ukraine in Europe – building a free, just and prosperous society, gaining the European living standards as the main goal of the European integration, – can come true only through the hard, consistent and persistent work of all Ukrainians.

The wide circles of the society should stop seeing the government and the state as a foreign body. Reproduction of colonial stereotypes only weakens Ukraine.

Only a strong Ukrainian state can ensure protection of sovereignty and eventually restoration of the territorial integrity. Only its rapid strengthening will allow to really protect the rights and freedoms of our citizens, will create favorable conditions for realization of their legitimate interests, and will make it possible to modernize the economy and to increase the level and quality of life of citizens.

It is impossible to achieve everything at once. We should clearly determine our key priorities: the state should focus on effective foreign policy and ensuring national security, protection of constitutional rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of citizens and economic entities.

The state’s renunciation of the functions which it cannot carry out effectively, in the current situation will enable the separation of political power from business – the key condition for Ukraine’s progress. True deregulation, especially in the economic sphere, will create favorable conditions for the recovery of both the economy and the political system. This, not further replication and dispersal of regulatory and law enforcement functions, is the only truly effective way to fight corruption.

It is urgent to restore the capacity of the state apparatus as a whole and to further strengthen the security and defense sector. Over three years, an Army has arisen in Ukraine that is able to fight and rebuff the enemy, which is the basic guarantee of the survival of the state. However, today Ukraine is under constant threat of expansion of Russia’s military intervention. Therefore, constant improvement of security capacities at all levels is a must.

The development of the Armed Forces and other military formations should be based on the best achievements of the leading armies of the world as well as on our own combat experience of the last three years. We should provide not only a comprehensive study of the fighting experience in the ATO zone paid for by human lives, but thinking it over and taking into consideration in guidelines and combat manuals as well. The philosophy laid in them must not remain unchanged.

For my part, I would stress: the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine on the initiative of the President regarding the increase in salaries of military servicemen is not a static, one-time act. We cannot stop along this way not taking into account inflation factors and the dynamics of the citizens’ incomes growth in the country.

At the same time, salaries should not rise only due to increased premiums and bonuses. Fixed salaries for a position and rank have remained unchanged for over 10 years. For example, the average rate of fixed components (position salary, salary for rank, years of service) in the structure of salaries of military servicemen of the security and defense sector amounts to only 12 percent. The consequences for pensions are compared with.

I would like to remind that in the NATO armies, the main components in the structure of salaries of military personnel make up 70-80 percent. This imbalance should be corrected immediately.
The defense of Ukraine needs creating a reliable and highly-trained reserve ready to carry out combat tasks in providing resistance to the aggressor by a premeditated plan. We should build a system of territorial defense, in which all those bound to military service would take military training courses in special training grounds, participate in reservist training and combat shakedowns of their units.

The military-patriotic education, military training and studying of the basics of civil defense should become a priority both in general school and in higher educational institutions. It is impossible to overestimate the importance of the ATO veterans’ (who have gone through the modern war) participation in the education of our youth.

Military service should open social ladder to youth, become a prerequisite for a political or public career, be socially prestigious and financially attractive.

Another issue is the re-equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military formations, receiving and adopting new high-efficiency samples of weapons and military equipment capable of compensating for the voluntarily lost nuclear capability based on international treaties.

I would like to emphasize the projects of modern missile weapons that are implemented pursuant to relevant decisions of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine and must dramatically increase the firepower of combat units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. At the same time, steps are taken to build production capacities for serial production of new weapons and military equipment.
The increase of control, protection, and defense of the State border of Ukraine remains an important task. Understandably, when it comes to the Russian Federation, we have to focus on defense, but on the western border, we should consistently implement the principle of border security by the European example. This refers to engineering equipment, high-tech control tools as well as to the growth of operational and combat capabilities of the respective units.

We have to consistently develop the capacity of the National Guard, the National Police, develop their human resources, and strengthen their technical supply. It is impossible to deter Russia by military force alone. We need to effectively apply specific intelligence and counterintelligence tools.

In the State Budget of Ukraine for 2017, expenditures for the needs of defense and security sector of Ukraine amount to 134,5 billion Hryvnyas (5,11% of GDP), including 69,1 billion Hryvnyas (2,67% of GDP) for the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. This is a large sum in our country, but in fact, it is only the minimum that allows us to resist aggression.

Effective national security policy and foreign policy require resources that are not available without achieving a new quality of economic growth. The economy must generate high added value and ensure attracting large-scale foreign investments.

It is necessary to create an economic environment in which free competition is ensured, private initiative is encouraged, property rights and investments are effectively protected.
Old approaches to the structural reorganization, based on the application of benefits, are corruptogenic and ineffective in Ukraine. Economic policy must ensure the completion of the following key tasks:

Deregulation – removing the hairsplitting regulation of economic relations, artificial obstacles for business development, overregulation of fiscal procedures, and depriving the state of extra functions;

Demonopolisation – dismantling the economic mechanisms that create the basis for the dominance of clans in some sectors, and comprehensive support to free competition;

Decentralization – transferring to the level of local communities those functions (as well as respective fiscal powers and resources) that can be carried out more effectively at the local level;
Deshadowing – creating conditions for the work in the legal economy to be more cost-effective than in the informal sector while strengthening the struggle against criminal elements of economic activity.

Privatization should ensure the attraction to Ukrainian economy of large foreign capital, especially the West’s one, and push the modernization of key sectors of the economy. As to a narrow range of facilities that will not be privatized, the state should effectively exercise the owner’s rights and carry out strict control. The mechanisms of shadow redistribution of resources of such enterprises should be eliminated.

We should at last introduce the land market, making monopolizing impossible and guaranteeing the rights of Ukrainian citizens to land property.

Revenues from privatization of state property and functioning of the land market will compensate for the loss of budget revenues at the first stage of reducing the level of fiscal burden on the economy until it provides a significant increase in GDP and, therefore, in budget income.

The main task of the tax reform should be not only to reduce the tax burden for most people and small businesses and to improve the administration, but also to change the structure of taxation by transferring the “center of gravity” from the added value to the cost value and the withdrawal of capital from Ukraine, to introduce a flexible system of lending to small and medium businesses, to create incentives for investors, to incentivize new high-tech industries.

Despite the allegations about Ukraine’s total energy dependence on Russia, within three years we have managed to reduce the consumption of Russian energy carriers to a minimum and significantly increase energy efficiency. But we are only at the beginning of this main line for Ukraine.

Extremely important is the issue of political reform – of a new constitutional model to ensure a balance of power and good governance. The further promotion of judicial reform, the establishment of an effective third branch of power are gaining special significance.

Over three years, Ukraine has finally started building its own information and cultural space overcoming colonial dependence on Russia. A weighted cultural policy should through positive incentives ensure the development of the Ukrainian language and culture, learning foreign languages, especially the languages of the world leading countries, the development of Ukrainian cinema and other Ukrainian cultural projects. Educational reform needs further implementation.

The example of the Reformation, which 500 years ago opened to Europe the way to renewal and development, shows that positive changes can occur quickly and comprehensively. The Ukrainian society has already made the impossible – we have stopped the Russian military machine. And now everything depends on the will, hands and brains of the Ukrainians.

Today, it is extremely important to continue the reform course, not to fly off the handle to vain and destructive populism, which can in a short time destroy all the results achieved by Ukrainians in a heavy struggle over the last three years.

The main task of our state is to protect every citizen, every family from the horrors of war and tyranny. In a state of law, no political or social status, no profession can be regarded as those discharging from liability.

The spread of a human’s freedom to the extent where another human’s freedom begins should become our fundamental principle. A free human in a free country is not a slogan but a guide to the future.
Ukraine has every reason not only to survive but to become a regional leader capable of protecting not only itself but its allies as well. Only a strong, independent, national state can make reckon with its interests, change the attitude to itself. This does not mean an alternative to European integration but the real way to it. We should not scratch the closed door but rather get invited as a strategic partner to whom there are no alternatives!

Although nobody apart from us is interested in the emergence of a new strong player in Europe, we should ensure strengthening and development of the Ukrainian state basing on the full mobilization of our main resource – human potential.

A strong Ukrainian state is the guarantee of our independence and dynamic development, it is a common cause of all the Ukrainian people.


God and Ukraine are on our side!

Glory to Ukraine!


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