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Ministry of Defense

On 05 September 2023, the Ukrainian parliament dismissed Oleksii Reznikov as minister of defense and Rustem Umyerov as head of the State Property Fund. On September 6, the parliament appointed Umerov as Ukraine's minister of defense. According to the law of Ukraine on bodies of executive power, in the event of dismissal of a minister, the first deputy minister and deputy ministers are dismissed from their positions by the Cabinet of Ministers. On 18 September 2023 the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine dismissed Volodymyr Havrylov, Rostyslav Zamlynskyi, Hanna Maliar, Denys Sharapov, Andrii Shevchenko and Vitalii Deineha as Ukraine's deputy defense ministers, and the state secretary of the Ministry of Defense Vashchenko Kostyantyn Oleksandrovych. Only the First Deputy Minister of Defense, Lieutenant General Oleksandr Pavlyuk, did not lose his position.

Ryhor Nizhnikau, a specialist in Ukrainian politics at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, was not convinced the dismissals are part of Roustem Umerov's effort to clean out the corruption scandals. "This is not about anti-corruption. Some of them came in recently with good reputations and were given tasks that had to do with fighting corruption." Others, like Hanna Maliar, have never been seriously accused of dipping into the coffers, even as their every move is closely scrutinised due to the high-profile nature of their positions. "Hanna Maliar was the face of the ministry, and at some point was a good candidate for the role, says Nizhnikau.

[Hanna Maliar] was considered as a possible challenge from the inside that Umerov got rid of," adds the analyst, for whom the sweep was above all a show of political strength. "Umerov simply wants to show that Zelensky has given him 'carte blanche' to change things, and that's what he does by reshuffling the ministry," says Nizhnikau.

The move might also be seen as a gift from Umerov to Zelensky, who can now say at the UN Genereal Assembly: "Look at all we are doing to fight against corruption', says Nizhnikau. At the same time, Zelensky can use the reshuffle to call on Ukraine's donors to be more patient. He can buy more time with donors, because he can say that they now have to wait to see the results" of the new appointments, notes Nizhnikau.

However, such a clean sweep is also risky in the context of the counteroffensive in southern Ukraine. Oumerov arrived at the defence ministry with limited military experience, and would now be without close collaborators who could explain to him the workings of the ministry. "It's nonetheless a bit of a worrying sign: the first thing this guy with no prior military experience (Umerov) does is firing everyone who could have helped him to learn the tasks of his job," Nizhnikau said.

In the general system of delimitation of functions and powers between the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine and the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, in accordance with the Decree of the President of Ukraine dated January 12, 2004 No. 28/2004 "On the Concept of Humanitarian and Social Development in the Armed Forces of Ukraine", the distribution of tasks was carried out in the humanitarian and social spheres, the foundations of the system of implementation of state humanitarian and social policy in the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been laid.

The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine is assigned the tasks of preparing the state for defense in peacetime, which are aimed at society: the formation of the moral, political and social potential of the state's defense capability, namely: social and humanitarian aspects of ensuring military service, military and patriotic education of Ukrainian citizens, interaction with bodies of state power, local self-government and public organizations regarding the preparation of young people for service in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as well as regulatory and legal and organizational and methodological support for the implementation of the social and humanitarian component of military service in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.The Department of Humanitarian and Social Development of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine was designated as the coordinating and analytical body of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine on issues of humanitarian and social policy of the state in the Armed Forces.

The General Staff is entrusted by the Decree of the President of Ukraine with the implementation of humanitarian and social support for the activities of the Armed Forces. The Main Directorate for Humanitarian Affairs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is defined as the body of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine that carries out planning, organization and control over the activities of the military command on humanitarian and social development issues.

After Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian army was in a miserable state. When a column of equipment was dispatched from Kyiv to the ATO zone, spare parts were lying all along the road. Heroic, but not too successful from a military point of view, the 2014-2015 campaign was largely supported by volunteers, not the state.

Under Poroshenko, defense spending increased 2.5 times. According to the Stockholm Peace Institute SIPRI, in 2019 defense spending was 4.1% of GDP. The state adopted a new military strategy and doctrine. The army was moving towards NATO standards.

The Defense Ministry of Ukraine is responsible for defense management, military development, mobilization and combat readiness. The General Staff of Ukraine is responsible for defense planning and operational management of the armed forces. The General Staff is subordinate to the Defense Minister of Ukraine.

The new history of the Ukrainian Armed Forces began on December 6, 1991, when the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine passed the Law "On the Armed Forces of Ukraine". That act created legal basis for the organization of the armed forces of the independent state.

The adoption of the Law and, consecutively, a whole package of other important documents on military matters, which specified the military policy of Ukraine for the near perspective, was crucially important and timely, because after the disintegration of the Soviet Union and proclamation of independence in 1991 Ukraine inherited one of the largest military forces not only in the post-socialist area, but in the entire Europe.

The military arsenal of the force consisted of the force consisted of 6500 tanks, over 7000 armored combat vehicles, nearly 1500 combat aircraft, more than 1600 warheads of the intercontinental ballistic missiles etc. The military personnel totaled to 780,000 men. Maintenance of the mammoth military force, which was created to conduct strategic offensive operations, ran counter to the peaceful foreign policy of the young Ukrainian state, its non-alliance status and the defensive nature of its military doctrine. Hence, the first urgent task of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense (MOD) was to optimize the organizational structure of the Armed Forces and other military formations, arrange the location of units according to new realities, develop programs of the construction of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

The decision of Ukraine on non-nuclear status and unilateral neutralization of its nuclear arsenal became unprecedented. Simultaneously, the conventional weapons were reduced too. These activities were conducted openly, in accordance with international treaties and under international verification. Thus, as far back as November 1995, Ukraine fulfilled its obligations and brought its armaments and equipment down to border limits as specified in the CFE Treaty.

During 1992-1997 the Ukrainian Army was reduced by 400,000 servicemen. More than 1300 units, organizations, command and control installations were disbanded during that period. By the end of 1999 the organizational strength of the Armed Forces was to number around 400,000 men, including 310,000 military and 90,000 civilians.

The State Program emphasized the importance of Armed Forces command and control system improvement, capable of providing a reliable, efficient, rugged and secure command and control during the operational and mobilization deployment of forces as well as during preparation and operations (combat). work will continue on developing a unified state control system for peace and wartime. In particular, it is planned to fully integrate the Armed Forces command and control system with the appropriate control of executive power bodies and other state authorities.

It was also planned to establish a system of civilian control over the military, clarify the responsibilities of the highest leadership and respective state and military organizations in terms of Armed Forces command and control. Thus, the President of Ukraine, as the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, executes command and control over the Armed Forces according to the Constitution of Ukraine and active legislation. Command and control over the Armed Forces and other military formations in emergencies is executed by the President of Ukraine through the General Headquarters (Stavka), one working agency of which is the General Staff of Ukrainian Armed Forces and the other is MOD.

The State Program plans for the further improvement of the command and control organization at all levels, differentiation of their functions and responsibilities and what is most important - clarification of roles and responsibilities of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, The General Staff, Armed Forces Services Commands and Operational Commands.

To reach this objective within the MOD the basics of the Armed Forces Command and Control Organization Reform Concept were developed. According to this document command and control activities will be divided into two parts: military-political and administrative, and operational.

The military-political and administrative command and control provides for a political concept of military development regarding material support of the Armed Forces missions (by manpower, weapons and military equipment, ammunition, funds). Besides, it provides for social programs, i.e. social care for military personnel and their families.

The operational command and control provides for strategic planning of Armed Forces engagement, maintenance of mission and mobilization readiness, operational and readiness staff and troops training.

The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine is the main military-political and administrative command and control organization.  The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine will remain the central executive power organization, which ensures the implementation of State defense policy, functioning, mission and mobilization readiness, combatant value and Armed Forces training to fulfil their missions.

The Ministry of Defense is responsible for:

  • Support to Armed Forces day-to-day activities
  • Mission and mobilization readiness
  • Combatant value
  • Training to fulfil assigned missions and engagement
  • Manning and appropriate training
  • Weapons and military equipment supplies
  • Material, funding and other resources in accordance with requirements defined by the GS
  • Control over the effective use of these resources
  • Developing interoperability with executive power, civilian agencies and civilians
  • International military and military-technical cooperation
  • Control over compliance of Armed Forces activities with the Law
  • Developing conditions for civilian control over Armed Forces.

The main body for operational command and control is the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.  The General Staff of the Armed Forces is the main military organization, responsible for:

  • State defense planning
  • Armed Forces engagement control
  • Coordination and control over the defense missions accomplishment in defense sphere by executive power agencies
  • Local self-administration
  • Military formations, established according to the Ukrainian laws
  • Law enforcement agencies in the framework of Ukrainian laws and legislative acts of the President of Ukraine, Parliament and Cabinet of Ministers.

Considering the enhancement in the GS role as the main defense planning and operational Armed Forces and other military formations command and control organization, by the Presidential Decree of 31 July 2000 the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces attained membership at the National Defense and Security Council of Ukraine.

Implementation of the basics of the Armed Forces Command and Control Organization Reform Concept will exclude duplication in their work, increase responsibility level and effectiveness of the Armed Forces branches Commands and Operational Commands, reduce both the number of command and control structures and their manpower. Therefore, by late 2005 the MOD will reduce its structure by 37% and its manpower almost in half.

In 2006, the delineation of authorities between the Ministry of Defence and the General Staff was nearly completed, structural changes in the Head Office of the Ministry of Defence and in the General Staff were implemented and the optimization of forces operational control system continued. As a result of the delineation of authorities, the Ministry of Defence is responsible for the state policy in the defence sphere, implements politico-military and administrative control of the Armed Forces, determines the principles of their development and directions of progress. The General Staff performs the strategic planning of the employment of the Armed Forces and other military formations, and implements defence planning and executes the operational control over the Armed Forces.

The new Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey was a Ukrainian Colonel General who served as Minister of Defense from July 3 to October 14, 2014. Heletey [Geletny / Heletei] vowed to hold "a victory parade" in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in March 2014. Before becoming defense minister, Geletey occupied the position of head of the State Guard of Ukraine, to which he was appointed in March by the Maidan government. Addressing parliament on 03 July 2014, Colonel General Heletey said, "Believe me, there will be a victory parade -- there will be for sure -- in Ukraine's Sevastopol." Heletey, a former policeman who headed the state's VIP bodyguard service, was approved by lawmakers after being recommended by President Petro Poroshenko. He got 260 votes from the deputies, above the minimum of 226 votes required to be accepted for the job.

Born in the village of Verkhnii Koropets (Zakarpattia region) on August 28, 1967, Heletei graduated from the Ivano-Frankivsk Specialized Secondary School of Militia in 1990 and the Ukrainian Interior Affairs Academy in 1994. In May 2007 - July 2009, he headed the State Guard Department. On March 2, 2014, he was again appointed as the head of the State Guard Department.

Lieutenant General Viktor Muzhenko, a career soldier trained in the Soviet Union, was confirmed as the new head of the joint chiefs of staff. Yuriy Kosyuk, an agriculture magnate and one of Ukraine's richest men, was appointed to oversee defense issues in the presidential administration. Former acting defense minister of Ukraine Mykhailo Koval was appointed as Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine. Since March, Mykhailo Koval had been the acting defense minister of Ukraine. In announcing the appointments, Poroshenko promised to "purge the army of thieves and grafters."

After Zelensky's victory, Andrii Zagorodniuk, a supporter of the NATO model, headed the Ministry of Defense. He managed to pass the defense procurement law. The DOZ was replaced by a procurement plan. The Ministry of Defense was given the opportunity to purchase some weapons simply at NATO sites. The Defense Plan was supposed to be the main strategic document that sets the vector for all purchases. The military direction was taken away from the Ministry of Economy, transferring it to the Ministry of Strategic Industries.

It is difficult to assess the effectiveness of this reform. The civilian minister was replaced six months later by Major General Andrii Taran. "He did not bring Zagorodniuk's reform to the end, the regulations were not prepared, and he was not given other tasks," says Yuriy Butusov, editor-in-chief of "Censor.NET". During Taran's time, no Defense Plan was developed. And the Ministry of Strategic Industries failed to prepare by-laws. Due to this, in 2020-2021, the procurement of the Ministry of Defense was delayed, and what was purchased raised many questions. Taran did not have good relations with the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ruslan Khomchak. In July 2021, Zelensky fired Khomchak, and in the fall found a replacement for Taran.

1991.09-1993.10Morozov Kostyantyn Petrovych
1993.10-1994.08Vitaly Hryhorovych Radetskyi
1994.10-1996.07Valery Mykolayovych Shmarov
1996.07-2001.10Oleksandr Ivanovich Kuzmuk
2001.11-2003.06Volodymyr Petrovych Shkidchenko
2003.06-2004.09Marchuk Evgeny Kyrylovych
2004.09-2005.02Oleksandr Ivanovich Kuzmuk
2005.02-2007.12Hrytsenko Anatoly Stepanovych
2007.12-2009.06Yekhanurov Yury Ivanovych
2010.03-2012.02Yezhel Mykhailo Bronislavovych
2012.02-2012.12Dmytro Albertovych Salamatin
2012.12-2014.02Pavlo Valentinovych Lebedev
2014.02-2014.03Ihor Yosypovych Tenyukh
2014.03-2014.07Koval Mykhailo Volodymyrovych
2014.07-2014.10Geletei Valery Viktorovych
2014.10-2019.08Poltorak Stepan Tymofiyovych
2019.08-2020.03Andriy Pavlovich Zagorodnyuk
2020.03-2021.11Andriy Vasylyovych Taran
2021.11Oleksiy Yuriyovych Reznikov

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