US, Israel, Turkey: Who Profits From Supplying the Means of Communication to the UAF

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


After the rupture of military and technical cooperation with Russia initiated by the Secretaries of the National Security and Defense Council Parubiy and Turchynov, immediately after the February 2014 coup, Ukraine started looking for new partners in production of military products. And if military-technical cooperation with the Russian Federation was based on the production cooperation and a mutual exchange of technologies, it then began to develop in two directions: either the sale of finished equipment and technologies to third world countries, or the purchase of equipment abroad. And here there is no question about transferring modern technologies from western “partners” and joint production.

While the Minister of Defence of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak visited Germany and Lithuania, the Ukrainian media rejoiced in the assessment of the Commander of US Land Forces in Europe about “real, current fighting experience against enemy tanks” in regards to the Ukrainian tankmen in the zone of the so-called anti-terrorist operation, and the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine reported that the Kiev regime paid to the Ukrainian military personnel 1.3 million UAH for “destroying the military equipment of the enemy” and 148.6 million UAH for “direct participation in military operations”, some “experts” criticized the regime for the fact that it isn’t clear what means of communication the troops use.

In one issue of “Zerkalo Nedeli” two articles were published about Ukraine’s military-technical cooperation problems in the field of equipment of the Ukrainian army by means of radio communication and other hi-tech electronic products.

This sphere is special because as soon as in 1991 “independence” fell on the head of the country, the electronic industry of Ukraine was one of the first to go under the knife. But for a period of time, life at the defense enterprises, manufacturing products that provide troops with electronics, was still alive. And Ukraine even managed to modernize by its own efforts in 2010 a complex the radio-electronic investigation Kolchuga, which NATO countries were very much afraid of. So much so that they had to invent a story about deliveries of this complex to Iraq to close to Ukraine the opportunity to sell it abroad.

But the dismantlement of the defense-industrial complex by the new authorities and the loss of control over the Donetsk and Lugansk regions left the country not only without “Kolchuga”, but also some other models of radio-electronic combat and means of a special communication which was produced at the Donetsk “Topaz” plant. On the territories not controlled by Kiev the Makeevka enterprise “Granit” remained, closely cooperating with the Russian producer of surface-to-air missile systems “Almaz-Antey”.

As a result of all of this, Ukraine was obliged to buy abroad not only the most complex electronic products ensuring its safety, but also handheld transceivers providing communication between units, and even personal radio stations.

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According to the philologist Valentin Badrak, who is considered in Ukraine not only as an expert in arms, but also the head of the Director the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies, today the Ukrainian military feels a sharp need for modern means of communication. Thus, military units of the UAF are equipped with VHF civil digital radio stations of the “Motorola” brand, approximately for 70%, and other units – for 30%. The rest of the fleet of ultrashort-wave radio stations in the Ukrainian Army mainly consists of old analog handheld transceivers, which they got from the USSR.

Both the analog equipment and “Motorolas” possess rather low resistance to means of radio-electronic combat. And analog radio stations in general aren’t protected from snooping. However, the security of communication channels of “Motorolas” doesn’t conform to modern requirements.

Ukrainian Generals know about the problem, and units of special operations, the official tasks of which openly declare actions that fall under the concept of “state terrorism”, already receive the means of communication conforming to NATO standards, supplied by the US within the framework of military aid.

But… not everything is so simple. For the re-equipment of the UAF with modern means of communication, there is a need of 100,000 radio stations of various types. It is required to spend about 1 billion hryvnias for the re-equipping of just one brigade, while funds allocated for troops of communication in 2016 was 600 million hryvnias.

The second “military expert”, the lawyer Yury Butusov heading the propaganda “Censor.Net” website, complains about the extremely low speed of restoration of production of counter-battery radars in Zaporozhye. Today Ukraine receives three types of such radars of various ranges allowing to determine the exact coordinates of the battery of the enemy, who carry out mortar or artillery fire. However the ardent supporter of a military solution to the “issue that is Donbass” Butusov regrets that this complicated electronic equipment can’t work at full capacity. Delivering radars, the Americans aimed to prove that shelling on Ukrainian troops is conducted from Russian territory, but weren’t going to help punishers at all correct their fire on residential quarters of settlements of Donbass, that’s why the function that allows to be engaged in the correction of fire was switched off in the delivered equipment.

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One more trouble in military and technical cooperation with Americans emphasized by the propagandist of war are the US’ deliveries of outdated reconnaissance UAVs operated on the unprotected analog channel. While the US, since 2009, communicates with them exclusively “digitally”. I.e. they work by the principle “take what is no longer useful for us”. Including also the deliveries of armor automotive equipment. Thus, the widely advertized delivery to the Ukrainian army of very second-hand “Humvee” armored vehicles turned out to be zilch, because many of them quickly failed, and now it is necessary to buy very expensive spare parts using the means of volunteers.

Butusov also mentions a “gift” in the form of Harris VHF radio stations, which was extolled by Badrak, saying that it is precisely this that terrorists from the Ukrainian Special operations forces and paratroopers were supplied with. But he notes their high cost (about $20,000) and small range of communication in field conditions. In his opinion, these shortcomings push the military towards the acquisition of civil “Motorolas”.

However, in questions of supply of troops with communication systems the price argument is not the only key one. As Badrak openly states, the choice of suppliers of radio stations for the Ukrainian army seriously depends on big-time politics.

Thus, in April, 2015, the Presidents of Ukraine and France agreed that the French company Thales will supply this type of electronic equipment to the UAF. However literally in two months at the insistence of the Americans, the supplier was replaced with the company from the US “Harris”. And the already outdated, laid-off “Falcon” models will be supplied.

Along with it the Ukrainian operators conducted negotiations with the Israeli company Elbit Systems and the Turkish Aselsan. And on the set of characteristics of the radio stations and the terms of the contract, the advantage was given to the Turks, and the French production was in general dismissed. But “under pressure” by the Israeli side, the Minister of Defence Stepan Poltorak and the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Aleksandr Turchynov made the decision to carry out re-testing of the equipment offered by the company from Tel Aviv.

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It is difficult to say what character this pressure had, but, according to Badrak, the Ukrainian military department indeed carried out a trial purchase for the sum of 7 million dollars. The received equipment still hasn’t arrived to troops as “it wasn’t completed”.

But also the choice of the Turkish company being the supplier of military radio stations that is extolled so much by Badrak, apparently, isn’t final, as neither Turchynov, nor Potorak didn’t answer the question: whether the contract with Turks will be concluded during the June visit to Kiev of Erdogan. And although the failure of the specified contracts will definitely undermine the image of Ukraine as a partner in military technically cooperation, such an option isn’t excluded at all, and the Ukrainian military will continue to be engaged in “amateur” purchases of “Motorola” civil radio stations. “The people close to the ‘communications’ project say: behind each foreign company appears the face of a domestic ‘instigator’. Sources don’t exclude that the idea of a change of foreign partner is simply an echo of a dispute between two very famous persons from the sphere of national security,” writes Badrak. And in general, as he claims, there are rumours that allegedly 3.1 billion hryvnias allocated for the purchase of radio stations will be given to projects in absolutely other spheres, and it will be companies under the control of Poroshenko that will be their performers.

Both Badrak and Butusov in their articles mention the low professionalism of Ukrainian Generals. But in reality something just whispers that the question is not at all about nonprofessionalism and not in the intrigues of the “Russian aggressor”, which has “everything under control” in Europe, America, and Israel. It is difficult to look for a black cat in a dark room when it is known that its absence there is the basis for obtaining personal profit by someone.

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