Interview of Secretary of the NSDC of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov with the "Novoye Vremya" weekly magazine
- Today, the most urgent topic concerning the east of our country is the actual defeat of the Minsk agreements: the situation in the ATO zone has aggravated significantly. What is going on?
- Russia is doing everything to breach the Minsk agreements. There was no single day when our positions were not shelled. But in May, the situation aggravated significantly. It was last month when we suffered the greatest losses over the last year - 25 soldiers were killed, 98 - wounded. The reason was the demonstrative aggressiveness of actions of the occupation troops, consistency and preparedness for provocations. Meanwhile, there is no sharp increase in the number of shellings, - on average per day, there are about 30-50 of them. But the occupants' approach to firing has fundamentally changed: while at the beginning of 2016 shellings were carried out randomly, in specific directions, from late April our positions have been fired targetedly, using large-caliber mortars, artillery and multiple launch rocket systems prohibited by the Minsk agreements. Moreover, the Russian command works out new modern technologies of guidance and correction of fire on our positions.
- For instance?
- One of the options is the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). They are launched both from the occupied territories and directly from the Russian Federation. These are contemporary Russian developments. Often our positions are "handled" by triplet UAVs: the first one carries out the imagery intelligence, the second detects the command, control and communication systems, as well as radar systems to suppress them with the system of electronic warfare (EW). And the third one adjusts artillery fire or itself delivers a strike if it is a combat UAV.
- What else is used?
- Apart from the usage of the prohibited large-caliber artillery, a severe problem is the professionally trained snipers and raiding forces, staffed by the Russian special operations soldiers. The Russian General Staff in the east of our country systematically works out modern techniques and technologies of land combat, new fire control systems, the application of modern military equipment and weapons. Hence, there are so many victims. - What forces are currently confronting Ukraine in the east?
- Well-armed units, formed by the model of the Russian armed forces, following the Russian military regulations are an integral part of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. The so-called first and second militant army corps are acting on the occupied territory of Donbas. Furthermore, the entire command staff is the professional Russian army officers, and more than half of the personnel are Russian mercenaries and contract soldiers. These corps are 35 thousand people strong. 9 more thousand are the Russian combat units. Upon that, the third corps, made up of the regular Russian military units located along the uncontrolled part of the Ukrainian-Russian border, and which serves as the operational reserve, was created.
The Center for territorial forces, subordinate to the Southern military district of the Armed Forces of the Russian Armed Forces, was created for commanding.
Only the first and the second army corps are armed with around 500 tanks, up to 900 armored vehicles, about 800 artillery and rocket systems. Add to this the powerful combat groups in the Crimea and along the entire border with Ukraine. But that is not enough for the Kremlin. New armies are being deployed: the 1st tank and the 20th combined-arms ones of the Western military district of Russia. They have solely offensive tasks. Close to our border, in the Southern military district of the Russian Federation, the 150th motorized rifle division is additionally being formed. Russia is creating a "powerful fighting fist" that can strike a blow both toward Ukraine and toward our European partners.
- Ukraine has recently adopted a new defense strategy. What will it change?
NSDC adopted the founding strategic documents, which will define the direction of reforming and development of the security and defense sector for decades. These are the National Security Strategy, the Military Doctrine of Ukraine, the Concept of Ukraine's security and defense sector development and the Strategic Defense Bulletin. Unlike the post-Soviet model of the Armed Forces, we are creating a model that operates in the leading NATO countries. This applies to other components of the power block.
The duplicate links will be eliminated, operational efficiency of decision-making and the effectiveness of their implementation, as well as civilian control, will be ensured. By 2020, we plan to completely switch to NATO standards both in the equipment and weapons and in the troop command system.
- Over two years have passed since the victory of Maidan, after which you virtually became the leader of Ukraine. And for one and a half years you have been holding the post of Secretary of the Security Council. What frustrated you during this time?
- I failed to convince our strategic partners that the military-technical assistance to Ukraine is a direct consequence of the Budapest Memorandum and, eventually, it is their protection! I constantly convince at all international meetings that a strong Ukrainian army equipped with modern weapons is a real factor of peace in Europe and a reliable shield of the Western world. Unfortunately, among our partners, especially the European ones, the position that "Russians should not be annoyed" dominates.
In the spring of 2014, when it was especially difficult, I asked them: give us military equipment and weapons, we need to protect the country. In those days, I planned the mobilization rates, based on how many combat boots we can sew. It was necessary to create an army, to equip, clothe and shoe our soldiers. At that time, volunteers helped to protect the country, and we did not receive any patron from our partners. And today, the supply of lethal weapons to Ukraine is blocked under various pretexts.
Weapons and military equipment for our army and the National Guard are provided mainly by the defense industry: from pistols - to tanks and missiles. But without effective military-technical cooperation with our strategic partners it will not be able to meet all the needs of the army in weapons and equipment of the new generation.
- Over these two years, people in the social media started to call you "the bloody pastor".
- Russian propagandists called me so, but the Internet this nickname found its own feet. I am comfortable with how I am gauged in the social media: both to nicknames and to "photochops". There are both supporters and opponents. But the public opinion is very changeable, love and hate are just one step apart. I remember it was very difficult at the beginning of 2014th. Russian troops are concentrating along the border, the invasion is being prepared, and there are no security forces or army. Among the security forces in the Crimea two-thirds are traitors. But at that time, this could not be told publicly: like, there is no army, betrayal and demoralization are everywhere, but I am "all in white". I think that after such a "PR" panic and chaos would be impossible to stop. And I had to speak about the courage of our defenders and bear all the negative things myself. Then, in those same social networks, I was "hung" and "shot".
It is easy to perform well, blame everyone, make everyone idiots and enemies, - we have a lot of such "experts". Even now one can speak well on how someone prevents and blocks the implementation of the strategic plans, large-scale projects on rearmament of our army. But there are the security issues of the country, - this is my priority. And, based on this priority, I should simply do my job quietly. Often, in the interests of the country, one fails to look good.
- Several weeks ago, one of the Donbas residents made an assassination attempt on your wife. Did you take any action?
- It was a real threat to the life of my wife and her colleagues. Anya [wife], of course, was scared but acted resolutely enough, she called the police herself. The attacker testified that he had long prepared to take revenge on me for that "I unleashed the war in Donbas", "drowned Donbas in blood". He is a dedicated Ukrainophobe. He explained that he could not get through the bodyguard to me and decided to take my wife hostage so that she would call me, and he would hit me with a knife.
It is almost impossible to explain rationally this hatred of all Ukrainian, of all those who defend the country. Russian propaganda has learned to deprive the dishonorable people of the remnants of conscience and honor, turning their souls and minds to into the stinking "vata". They have bred armies of those "orcs", from whom we protect our country.