The Problem with Ukraine…Is Ukraine
Ukraine’s government has hired Washington lobbyists to fix its problems with the Trump Administration, but would do better to fix its internal problems, instead. Ukraine’s problems are in four categories: a structural problem caused by the multiple overlapping entities involved in military strategy and procurement; the absence of a unified strategic vision for ordering equipment and supplies; a “Fifth Column” of pro-Russian officials; and a staggering corruption that divides the self-interest of the elites from the national interest.
A recent Rand study highlighted the deficiencies in the command structure of Ukraine’s security sector. Defense procurement particularly has several overlapping structures with no clear lines of authority or unity of command. The President, Prime Minister, Defense Ministry, General Staff and the infamous state-owned defense company, Ukroboronprom, compete against and undercut one another. Each entity produces its own wish list, driven more by impulse than strategy, and each entity has separate financial controls, opening the door to insider dealing and corrupt sales of government property.
In Ukraine, citizens are played for suckers: local militias fight to preserve home and liberty, while the leaders focus on procedure, personal prestige, and offshore bank accounts. Ukroboronprom is infamous for selling arms to the black market, and domestic contracts are given to factories indirectly owned by President Petro Poroshenko, who still hadn’t divested his business interests as he promised to do when he took office in 2014.