12:36 01.09.2023


From survival to the victory

14 min read
From survival to the victory

Oleksiy Reznikov, Minister of Defence of Ukraine


24 August marked a year and a half since russian full-scale invasion. “Kyiv in three days” will stay forever in history as a synonym for underestimation of Ukrainians. 

For the second time we have celebrated Independence Day which could have not happened. That is the achievement to recognise. We could have not been. 

That is an opportunity to talk about where we are and what we strive for. 

What is the most substantial change, compared to the previous year?

The most important thing is that the goal has changed. 

During the last year we have been fighting to survive as a state and as a nation. 

Nowadays the aim is to win. 

This shift was done due to the bravery of our warriors, resilience of the whole people and assistance from the partners. 

Earlier Ukrainians used to discuss plans of russians’ for further invasion. At present russians are the ones discussing plans for Ukraine. 

Victory means not simply to liberate our lands within the 1991 borders. Victory means the enemy who will be afraid to look at the side of our borders after the war.  

As the russian bear is getting out of poverty, it starts to wage a war. Imagine russia as Pavlov’s dog yet not a dog but a bear. We have to train this bear for the unconditional reflex. As it twitches towards its’ favorite war it is being beaten by shock. It commits a terrorist attack – it is immediately severely punished. It encroaches economically – it instantly loses way more money. It instigates a war on the foreign territory – the war enters its cities. Only in this way will the “Pavlov’s bear” stop threatening us. 

We protect not only ourselves but also things understandable for the world: territorial integrity, food security, free shipping, safe trade etc. Following the results of the war, a new world order will be established. It will be either an order based on rules, or an order based on the aggressor's right to resolve political issues by force.

All those who seek security and rules are interested in the victory of Ukraine. That is why we are openly supported by more than 50 countries, and we have an all-out vote advantage in the UN.

The future role of Ukraine is obvious – the shield of Europe in the East, the donor of security on the continent, in particular, in the Black Sea region. The path must be paved.


New sense of time

The goal has changed – so have the tasks and approaches to their completion. 

We plan for a long term perspective in order to vanquish the enemy in this marathon and protect the results. We discuss lasting support programs with our partners.  

While our warriors are holding the front and beating out the invaders, we are putting on the rails the process of creating the Ukrainian army of the future. It will fully take into account the experience of this war and absorb the best that the world has.

The biggest difficulty is that we operate in conditions of uncertainty. It is not known when exactly the war will end. It is not known when we will be officially accepted into NATO.

Therefore we create specific frame uniting international agreements, long term improvement and development processes and resources. 

We cleared the site, poured the foundation and brought in materials. We are laying the logic of building a new army, so that even with a change of the political team at the Ministry of Defense, the state affair moves forward.

We established a roadmap for this movement. Yet in summer last year my former First deputy and now wise advisor general Ivan Rusnak persuaded me to launch the Armed Forces of Ukraine Capability Review. That is the philosophy of work of the NATO states.  

The Review was finalised in May. Now we understand capabilities of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, what should be developed considering assessment of the security environment till 2032. That is fundamental for our own decisions  and substantive dialogue with the partners – so we know where to invest our efforts. 

The efforts will be based on the Future Force Concept – our view on the future army which is being actively established. 

We lay real security guarantees. That is the priority. In my understanding the security guarantee is not a paper. They are trained Ukrainian warriors equipped and armed. That is equipment and ammunition at the arsenals. That is an ability to produce necessary armament in necessary quantities. 

We work with our partners on such a level, which was earlier even difficult to imagine. 

Soon there will be signals demonstrating the dynamics of this movement.

What lies ahead?


Place on the map of the best experience

Tank coalition. A family of air defense systems able to intercept ballistic targets. Long-range missiles. Coalition for the projectiles’ supply. Start of aircraft crews’ training.

This is part of the visible results throughout the year, which is built around the Rammstein format.

In a year and a half, we received almost all types of weapons that are realistic at this level of relations with the partners. The next level is something that is not given to anyone, or only to the closest ones.

F-16 – every Ukrainian will feel that we shoot down Russian missiles further and further from our homes. Kharkiv, Odesa, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia and other cities must be protected, as well as Kyiv. I consider it as a personal challenge. We will use other –  Ukrainian –  assets to reach the enemy in the placement areas.

During the dialogue about weapons, I have been perceiving the word "impossible" from partners as "hi, how are you?". Because I heard it all the time.

The obtained would be enough for several armies of European countries. Now the main issue is to ensure stability. This includes maintenance, repair, training, spares production etc.

The weapons that will never be handed over to us, we will make ourselves or we will find a way to act asymmetrically. A special place should be given to robotic platforms.

A year ago, we implemented a Government decision that changed the philosophy of taking military equipment and armament into operation. Due to this, the time period for new samples to enter the army was reduced from 2 years to 3-5 weeks.

Up to 30 models of Ukrainian drones of various types have been taken into operation, including 10 models of FPV drones. Constant improvement is underway, production has increased 100 times.

We understand the lack of drones, but the situation is changing rapidly. The shadow over Russia created by our drones is getting darker.

We already have an experience that no one else in the world has. This is the use of drones in the sky, on the water, on the ground against a high-tech army. We expect that, over time, this experience will lead to the creation of a NATO center of expertise in the field of application of robotic platforms.

A year ago we planted seeds. Autumn-winter should become the harvest for domestic drones. By next spring, Western planes will mature.


Capable Ministry 

For a year and a half, the Ministry of Defence has been working on two conditional tracks.

The first is the tasks that must be solved regardless of whether there is a war or not. This is the program for which I was appointed in 2021.

Digitization, procurement reform, implementation of the best standards – all this makes the army more modern. The war only exacerbated these needs.

I articulated this program as follows: de facto accession to NATO.

It happened, we are deepening cooperation in all directions, not only in weapons and military art. Logistics, accounting and planning (Logfas, Karavay, SAP). Provision (Procurement Review jointly with NSPA). Reform of military education, which concept was approved by the Government, etc.

The second track is the challenges posed by a full-scale invasion. Which no one has ever encountered in practice. Everyone is looking at us because we are the first.

Transition to Western weapons was a matter of survival. Import of weapons though some mistakes was fixed from scratch, while for 30 years before this it was only sold abroad.

Development of Ukrainian defence industry is a matter of sovereignty - the war clearly showed what it is. Sovereignty is not a slogan. It consists of such small moments as the ability to produce spares for weapons when and in such quantities as needed.

We strengthen, and in some dimensions create, the sovereignty of the country as well as provide new capabilities for the Defence Forces.

In sum, we will get the army of the future and a new defence organization system in the country. We have already submitted our vision to the "Ukrainian Doctrine" initiated by the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

In order to be able to move towards these directions, the priority was to increase the institutional capacity of the Ministry of Defence – procedures, reduce dependence on the unhealthy human factor, and create mechanisms in which functioning does not depend on personalities.

Team work. Delegation. Relieving the minister from trivial matters for dealing with political functions.

I have a powerful team of deputies and a State Secretary, which allows me to solve multifaceted tasks for which there is no experience.

The Hero of Ukraine General Oleksandr Pavliuk provides a deep understanding of the needs of the army. General Volodymyr Gavrylov builds a new philosophy in the field of weapons and equipment, so that the Ukrainian army of the future will be one of the strongest in the world. Rostyslav Zamlinskyi manages resources that make up about a third of the State budget, however are critically insufficient to meet the needs of the Armed Forces. Denys Sharapov is looking for weapons all over the world and supervises procurement issues. Andrii Shevchenko maintains the international axis, picks up best practices of General Oleksandr Polishchuk, who has recently strengthened the diplomatic front by heading the Embassy of Ukraine in the Republic of India. Vitalii Deineha should add systematicity and dynamics to digital reforms. Hanna Maliar keeps abreast of the communications. Meanwhile Kostiantyn Vashchenko, the State Secretary, keeps his eye on the entire structure to maintain its orderliness and make it operate like a clockwork.

I hope that soon all the circumstances regarding Viacheslav Shapovalov will be clarified with firm adherence to the principle of the presumption of innocence. He did a huge amount of work in the most difficult time.


Pure environment

By strengthening the Ministry, we create conditions for the implementation of the principle of zero tolerance to corruption.

We destroy the ground for abuses – carry out structural changes and apply digital solutions.

We strengthen prevention tools – the capabilities of the Anti-Corruption Department are growing and the Public Anti-Corruption Council is active.

The priority is the culture of integrity. I demonstrate with my own example - I voluntarily submitted declarations for 2021 and 2022.

At the same time, I am firmly against the declaration for the military in wartime in the form it is suggested. This is simply dangerous and has nothing to do with the fight against corruption. This is someone's sick ambition.

If you have a hammer in your hand, everything seems like tacks. If you are a professional fighter against corruption, and in general you can't do anything else, then everything seems to you to be corruption. This is natural. Nonetheless if during the war you bring unverified or false facts into the public environment, then you yourself become a "corrupt one", because corruption is spoilage, distortion. This is especially dangerous during the war, because corruption is russia's weapon, and it skilfully uses every media cause, even and especially if it is not true.

The story of the fictional transformation of winter jackets into summer ones should be a lesson for everyone.

I urge journalists to check the facts before unwittingly becoming a tool in the hands of the enemy. You can send a request to us and get the MOD position. You may not agree with it, but this is the right for a response from one of the parties mentioned in the material and elementary standards regarding the impartiality of journalistic material.

Moreover you can always report suspicious facts to the Public Anti-Corruption Council, which actually includes your fellow journalists. These facts will be thoroughly checked by the Council, conclusions will be given: whether there are grounds for "treason" or not and the investigators will avoid an awkward position in the future.

Struggle should not be an end in itself. You need to see the goal – for what? If for the sake of the joint victory over the russian occupier, we are allies.


Interim achievement

Procurement reform is at the finish line. Two service agencies were created – one for weapons, the other for resource (often called rear) support. Yesterday, I appointed Arsen Zhumadilov as the head of the second agency. I expect that it will show the first results in October.

The Accelerator of the Ministry of Defence was created for the military equipment and armament axis. Its mission is to quickly lead developers and manufacturers through the bureaucratic slums so that quality products end up in the military as serial products as quickly as possible.

Jointly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry for Strategic Industries, we are preparing an international forum in the domain of defence technologies. Volodymyr Havrylov is responsible on behalf of the Ministry of Defence, as he has unique experience in international cooperation and deep knowledge of the subject.

We are already mass-producing Ukrainian 155-mm artillery. Production of a line of both soviet and NATO sample ammunition has already been arranged. Which was not. There are many developments in the field of armored vehicles. We will step out of this war stronger but the production of weapons takes time.

Defence industry must create surprises and amaze. Therefore we don’t talk a lot – not to make the enemy rejoice beforehand. 

According to the russians they permanently shoot down some missiles, which were not received by Ukraine from the partners and are seemingly not produced by Ukraine. Nonetheless something is permanently exploding. A kind of mysticism. Looks like a lie.

In a year we put into service an automated command and control system and a situational awareness system, which used to be a cause for breaking lances for years. These systems are already functioning for the Defence Forces of Ukraine. 

Nowadays more attention is being given to the matters which are socially essential.

The process of getting an identity card of the participant of the hostilities has already been simplified to one document.  

The process of the military medical commission is being swiftly developed. There will be less chaos, queues and soil for abuse.

Reform of territorial centers of stuffing is a repair of the vehicle at full speed during off-road rally. Nonetheless we have already developed an action algorithm to not stop and change. Complex reform is possible only during the peace time, when we will have 6-8 months for necessary procedures and personnel policy. 

We have to win not only against the russian army, but also our enemy is the paper army. 

That is the matter of not only the procedure but of the mind as well. Changes in the head are the most difficult. There are comparatively young officers who can’t imagine the army without registers of registration books. Removal of the register erases the picture of the world … 

“A true soldier fights not because he hates  what is in front of him but because he loves what is behind him”. Sounds like Chesterton told it about modern Ukrainians. 

We have to master a fight via qualitative superiority and strong allies. Create it all. To solve the problem of the “Pavlov’s bear” not to shift it to the generations to come.