As Ukraine wars with Russia and its agents in the east, it also faces an internal battle with military reformers seeking to modernize past the Soviet-era versus the country’s bureaucracy, pervasive corruption and largely outmoded defense-industrial base.
The new government in Kiev, which took over following the 2014 ouster of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, is adopting NATO standards as the country sets sights on joining the US-led alliance. But to get there, defense officials say, the old ways need to go.
“We are working hard because all the Ukrainian people are watching us, and we are like flags of the Ukrainian people, flags symbolic of future change for the Ukranian [nation],” said Konstiantyn Liesnik, an advisor to the Defense Ministry’s reform office and head of its working group for logistics and procurement. “If we will change the Ministry of Defense, people believe we will change the whole country.”
The Ukrainian military, at worst considered corrupt and shabby, is under the administration of President Petro Poroshenko taking a serious look at both how it is organized and the defense industry’s work, meant to make its military and defense industry truly effective, and to orient to the West.