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Speech by Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov at the operational meeting of the leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine




        Dear Mr. President of Ukraine, Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, comrades generals, admirals, and officers!

        For the third year in a row, an undeclared war against Ukraine continues. Our society, volunteers and the state, especially the Armed Forces and other military formations were able to stop the enemy, but at a high price- at the expense of lives of Ukraine’s best children. Battles for the complete liberation of Ukraine continue. However, the struggle is being waged not only in Ukraine.

        The world order is collapsing before our eyes. The unity of the West based on the principles of freedom and democracy is experiencing unprecedented challenges. The world order formed after the Second World War is changing dramatically. The outlines of the new order, as yet, are not determined. However, it is impossible to return to the past: neither to the Soviet times, so cherished by the Kremlin, nor to the "golden" era for the West at the end of the XX century.

        For the first time in history, large-scale change is taking place in technological structures of the globalized world, which dramatically increases both its benefits and risks. Opportunities to neutralize risks at the national level are objectively limited. At the same time, governments of the leading countries have not responded adequately to the new political and socio-economic realities created by these technologies.

        Transnational corporations are increasingly separated from their national "roots," especially in the sphere of information technologies, shape the global economy. National governments are losing the abilities to influence them. A global multinational society is being formed. A network of connections, beyond which modern society is unable to function, has enwrapped the planet.

        More and more state functions associated with the use of force, especially abroad, are carried out by private companies. The activities of international terrorist organizations and organized criminal groupings assumed an unprecedented scale. Some have even taken on state functions over huge territories.

        It is impossible to defeat such terrorist organizations like Islamic State only by bombing and raids carried out by special forces, primarily because they are limited not only by organizational principles but also because they cannot address the doctrinally-ideological foundation of ISIS. Failure to understand this will prevent the complete elimination of this dangerous threat.

        New information technologies are transforming social communication and thereby changing societies. Traditional media is increasingly giving way to social networks. The filters that yesterday impeded the dissemination of false information and its damaging psychological effects are disappearing. Today, even the insane can become a "star" on the Internet and eventually affect the attitudes of millions and state policy.

        State hierarchy is supplemented and sometimes supplanted by networks, which are inherently more chaotic. These networks reduce the resilience and stability of the governing system and require those who are to direct key social processes in a constructive direction, to search for radically new approaches, knowledge, and skills.

        Recent trends in the USA indicate this struggle between two basic approaches to the development and implementation of foreign policy. The first more traditional approach is the idea of the USA as a global leader, while the other proposes focusing mainly on its problems alone, i.e., the return to the so-called policy of isolationism.

        The USA's withdrawal from global leadership can provoke other states to fill the void by creating or expanding their exclusive areas of influence. Thus, we can expect further destabilization, particularly in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and other regions. Increased global confrontations can lead to the emergence of a global conflict.

        The crisis of the European Union is deepening. The migration crisis, the Greek debt crisis, the Dutch referendum on the Association Agreement with Ukraine, Brexit, the growing influence of radical, anti-European forces and movements, all of these seemingly unrelated events are a direct consequence of contradictions between pan-European and national interests, as understood in Brussels.

        Great Britain's exit from the European Union does not mean that it ceased to be a European country - as well as Norway and Switzerland that have never been EU members. The European idea is much bigger than the European Union project: European values are not necessarily equal to political concepts and bureaucratic structures.

        An unwillingness to reconsider familiar doctrines and avoiding effective steps, as well as ing to new challenges by using traditional methods lead to increasing distrust toward elites. Thus provoking distrust of democracy itself, and fueling authoritarianism and fundamentalism strengthens dictatorships and tyrannies.

        In such a way, the Russian leadership is trying to consolidate Russian society by fueling imperial-chauvinist hysteria and then exporting its internal quagmire to the outside world. By having occupied the Crimea and having launched a direct military aggression in Donbas, the Kremlin provoked the international security crisis, including the rapid growth of international terrorism, and the deepening of extreme security threats. Despite all the efforts of the world community, Russia is not going to stop its aggressive policy. The latest evidence of this was the decree of the Russian president on de-facto recognition of DNR/LNR terrorist entities. As the Kremlin spokesman Peskov boldly stated: "The terrorists will never run out of ammunition."

        Again, as in Soviet times, Russia is waging a hybrid war, which requires its comprehensive and coordinated implementation. Everything is subordinated to a single subversive (hybrid war) plan, including the political-diplomatic, economic, energy, public information, cyber, military spheres.  Moreover, such war is waged not only against Ukraine but the West as a whole and Europe in particular. Let us recall Russia's military operation in Syria, which led to a massive flow of migrants to the EU. Note also the provocative actions of the Russian air force and navy, Kremlin propaganda in the United States and the EU states, the blatant intervention of Russian hackers in the electoral process in the USA, Germany, France and the preparation of the referendum in the Netherlands, and the attempted coup in Montenegro, etc.

        Ukraine is the key theater of Russia’s hybrid war, another dangerous attempt to reformat lands of the former Russian empire. Without conquering our state, the Kremlin cannot successfully develop its further expansion. Unprecedented political pressure, blatant subversive activities within the state, direct financing of radical political organizations, furious propaganda, cyberattacks, trade and energy wars, transit blockade - all these measures complement the military intervention in the east of Ukraine. The armed forces and security services of the Russian Federation have turned Ukrainian Donbas into a proving ground for testing modern tactical maneuvers, the newest military equipment, especially communications, control, reconnaissance and electronic warfare, tools for the training of tactical and operational officers. Simultaneously in Syria, the Russian Federation is fine-tuning the coordinated use of land, aerospace and naval groups.

        Under current conditions, military force becomes the main instrument for implementing Russia's neo-imperial foreign policy. I will not repeat what we already know,  Russia is deliberately throwing massive amounts of money on the deployment of troops, their modernization and training while ignoring the needs of economic development and solving urgent social problems.

        The war against Ukraine is an important step in the preparation of the Russian Federation to wage a great war and to demonstrate global leadership and redistribution of influence in the world.

        Despite sanctions and economic turmoil, the Russian Federation will long remain a source of military aggression, security threats and generator of instability.

        In general, the situation in the world and Europe is rapidly becoming more complex, strategic uncertainty is increasing, which establishes special demands on the quality of public policy.

        Since the 1990-s, there is much talk in Ukraine about formal candidate status and later membership in the European Union. Some people even turned this talk into their profession and profitable business. However, the task of a fundamental modernization of Ukrainian society based on European values of freedom and the rule of law were substituted with fulfilling the formal requirements of the EU and other international organizations.

        What our society needs is not tales about a bright European future "today - right away," not the promises of ‘everything at once,' but, rather, a frank and honest dialogue. Ukrainians repeatedly demonstrated their maturity, and as a consequence sincerity/honesty should become an imperative of state policy and a basis for strengthening public trust.

        It is necessary to realize that destruction of the system of collective security has already occurred.  Ukraine felt this particularly acutely. Until the new world order is created, each state is forced to protect its interests itself. The stronger ones seek to do so at the expense of the weaker. Unfortunately, some of our partners often treat Ukraine as a sort of " timber" -  a raw-material appendage, the security problems of which are far from their priorities and are only our own (Ukrainians’) concern.

        Under these circumstances, our priorities need to be clearly defined. Only a strong national state can ensure the survival and development of independent Ukraine,  a state based on powerful Armed Forces, and other military formations, as well as a reliable and efficient security sector.

        The building of such a state should become our key priority. A state that will be able to protect the vital interests of Ukrainians - state sovereignty, freedom, and dignity, to ensure economic development, acquisition of innovative technologies and new markets. At the same time, we should be guided by our national interests and not by 20-years-old ideas set out in fundamentally different terms.

        The social model designed in Ukraine in the 1990-s reflects the monopolization of the key areas of social and economic life, the dominance of shadow mechanisms to coordinate clan interests, and the involvement of public institutions in extensive systems of corruption. Its essential characteristic is that it is "eating away the future" of the country. By reducing investments in further development, Ukraine risks to repeat the mistake of the USSR and for the second time "miss" the changing technological paradigm.

        The processes affecting the degradation of healthcare, education, and science, started yet in 1970-s, are continuing. Despite the maintenance or even the increase of quantitative indicators in education, its quality, especially in the natural and technical fields, has decreased significantly. The legitimation and promotion of pseudoscientific concepts are taking root. Faith in astrology, magic, witchcraft is spreading, which reflects the degradation of social consciousness.

        After 2010, social standards and prestige of civil service have decreased, which has already led to the loss of competitiveness of the civil service profession. The new Law of Ukraine "On Civil Service" did not solve but only recorded this trend. Unsystematic selective application of anti-corruption legislation transforms this strategic issue into the ground for political PR and cliquishness.

        Populist and radical political forces and pseudo-civic organizations disguised as institutions of civil society play an important role in the destructive process. They are trying to seize the functions of developing public policy and managing the public sector of the economy. They do not take responsibility for the decisions imposed by them in an ultimatum-like manner. They provide solutions to narrowly defined purely political and corporate lobbying tasks. They openly work for the aggressor state. This leads to increased public distrust of state institutions which they successfully exploit to serve their nefarious ends.

        Delaying decisive action to build a strong Ukrainian state enabled the growth of raiding and violence, the erosion of the state’s monopoly on the legitimate use of force, and the emergence of politicized paramilitary formations.

        Today, resort to declarations, cosmetic reforms, and half-steps are already depleted. Either new approaches to address systematic problems are brought forth and implemented, or the devastating scenario prepared by the Kremlin will be carried out. "Maidan-3" inevitably will be accompanied by mass violence. Any governing structure established as a result will be based mainly on force, will have no internal and external legitimacy. For their very existence, the rulers will be compelled to impose the strict enforcement of the suppression of democratic freedoms. In a few months, this will lead to a complete disorder in the state, destruction of the economy, explosion of crime, intensification of separatist manifestations that will eventually pave the way for the occupation by Russia of a significant part of the Ukrainian territory. This is the result that advocates of this scenario expect.

        The only realistic alternative to this destructive scenario is to consolidate around the current principles of constitutional order, around the idea of controlled modernization of the state based on political and economic freedom, and on this basis the rehabilitation of the entire social system.

        Public attention should be focused on the present and future problems and not on the past. Realism and frankness in assessing the situation and proposed actions are needed.

        We should stop manipulating glowing illusions of a "bright European future today right away." Fulfilling the dream about Ukraine in Europe,  building a free, just and prosperous society and achieving European living standards as the main goals of the European integration, can materialize only through the dedicated persistent hard work of all Ukrainians.

        We should rid ourselves of public perception that government and the state are alien, which is still inherent in wide sectors of society. Repetition of colonial stereotypes only weakens Ukraine.

        Only a strong Ukrainian state can ensure the protection of sovereignty and eventually the restoration of territorial integrity. Only its rapid strengthening will allow protecting the rights and freedoms of citizens, will create favorable conditions for the realization of their legitimate interests, and will make it possible to modernize the economy and increase the level and quality of life of citizens.

        It is impossible to achieve all at once. We should clearly define our key priorities: the state should focus on effective foreign policy and ensuring national security, protection of constitutional rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of citizens and economic entities.

        A key issue is for Ukraine's progress is for the state to relinquish functions it is unable to perform effectively in modern conditions. This will enable the separation of political power from business activities. True deregulation, especially in the economic sphere, will create favorable conditions for the recovery of both the economy and the political system. This is the only truly effective way to fight corruption, not further duplication and dispersion of regulatory and law enforcement functions.

        It is urgently necessary to restore the capacity of the state apparatus as a whole and to further strengthen the security and defense sectors. Ukraine raised an army in three years that can fight and repulse the enemy, which is the basic guarantor of the survival of the state. However, today Ukraine is under constant threat of an escalation of Russia's military intervention. Therefore, the enhancement at different levels of security capacities should be carried out constantly.

        The development of the Armed Forces and other military formations should be based on the best achievements of the leading armies of the world as well as on our combat experience of the last three years. We should learn from the fighting experience in the ATO zone, lessons paid in human lives. We also need to better understanding and integrate this experience into handbooks and military doctrine. It is unacceptable that the concepts laid out in these basic documents remain unchanged.

        For my part, I would stress: the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine on the initiative of the President regarding the increase in salaries of members of the armed forces is not a static, one-time act. We cannot stop and must continue to take into account inflation factors and dynamics of the citizens' income growth nationwide.

        At the same time, salaries should not rise only due to increased premiums and bonuses. Fixed salaries for a position and rank have remained unchanged for over ten years. In such a way, the average rate of fixed components (position salary, salary for rank, seniority) in the structure of salaries of military servicemen/women of the security and defense sector amounts to only 12 percent. The consequences for pensions are relative to the fixed components.

        I would like to remind us that in the NATO armies, the main components in the budget is the structure of salaries of military personnel that makes up 70-80 percent. This imbalance should be corrected immediately.

        The defense of Ukraine requires creating a reliable and highly-trained reserve ready for combat against the aggressor by carrying out a predetermined plan. We should build a system of territorial defense, in which all those bound to military service will take military courses in special training grounds, participate in mobilizations and combat readiness exercises of their units.

        Military-patriotic education, military training and the basics of civil defense should become a priority both in high school and in institutions of higher learning. It is difficult to overestimate the importance of involving ATO veterans, who participated in the modern warfare, in the education of our youth.

        Military service should open a social ladder to youth, become a prerequisite for a political or public career, and socially prestigious and financially attractive.

        Another issue is the re-equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military formations, receiving and adopting new high-efficiency samples of weapons and military equipment that are capable of compensating for the voluntarily entered into international treaties that resulted in the loss of our nuclear capability.

        I would like to emphasize projects to construct modern missile weapons that are implemented under relevant decisions of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine that must dramatically increase the firepower of combat units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. At the same time, steps are taken to build production capacities for the serial production of new weapons and military equipment.

        Enhancing the control, protection, and defense of the State border of Ukraine remains an important task. Understandably, when it comes to Russia, we have to focus on defense, but on the western border, we should consistently implement the principle of border security using the European example. This refers to producing equipment, high-tech control capabilities, as well as the increase in operational and combat capabilities of respective units.

        We have to consistently develop the capacity of the National Guard, the National Police, develop their human resources, and strengthen their technical supply. It is impossible to deter Russia only by military force. Specific intelligence and counterintelligence tools need to be effectively applied.

        In the State Budget of Ukraine for 2017, expenditures for the needs of defense and security sector of Ukraine amount to 134,5 billion hryvnias (5,11% of GDP), including 69,1 billion hryvnias (2,67% of GDP) for the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. This is a large sum in our country, but in fact, it is only the minimum that allows us to resist aggression.

        Effective national security policy and foreign policy require resources that are impossible to attract without achieving a new quality of economic growth. The economy must generate high added value and ensure attracting large-scale foreign investments.

        It is necessary to create an economic environment in which free competition is ensured; private initiative is encouraged, property rights and investments are effectively protected.

        Old approaches to the structural reorganization, based on the application of benefits, are cryptogenic and ineffective in Ukraine. Economic policy must ensure the completion of the following key tasks:

        Deregulation - removing petty regulation of economic relations, artificial obstacles, and overregulation of business activities, eliminating government functions.

        De-monopolization - dismantling the economic mechanisms that create the basis for the dominance of clans in some sectors, and comprehensive support of free competition;

        Decentralization - transferring to the level of local communities those functions that can be more effectively implemented at the local level, including respective fiscal powers and resources;

        Shadow economy - creating conditions for the legal, economic sector to be more cost-effective than the informal shadow sector while strengthening the fight against criminal elements engaged in economic activity.

        Privatization should attract large foreign capital, especially from the West, and push forward the modernization of key sectors of the economy. As to the narrow range of economic assets that will not be privatized, the state should effectively exercise owner rights and carry out strict control. Mechanisms for the shadow redistribution of resources of such enterprises should be eliminated.

        We should finally introduce the land market, making it impossible to establish monopolies and guaranteeing the rights of Ukrainian citizens to own land property.

        Revenues from privatization of state property and the functions of the land market will compensate for the loss of budget revenues at the first stage of reducing the level of the fiscal burden on the economy and until there is a significant increase in GDP and, consequently, in budget income.

        The main content of the tax reform should be not only to reduce the tax burden for most people and small businesses and to improve administration. It also should change the structure of taxation by transferring the "center of gravity" from the added value to the cost value and the withdrawal of capital from Ukraine, to introduce a flexible system of lending to small and medium businesses, to create incentives for investors, to incentivize new high-tech industries.

        Despite the allegations about the total energy dependence of Ukraine on Russia, over three years, we managed to reduce the consumption of Russian energy to a minimum and significantly increase energy efficiency. However, we are only at the beginning of this main task for Ukraine.

        The issue of policy reform is pressing for the development of a new constitutional model to ensure a balance of power and good governance. The further promotion of judicial reform, the establishment of an effective third branch of power are gaining special significance.

        Over three years, Ukraine has finally started building its information and cultural space and overcoming colonial dependence on Russia. A weighted cultural policy should through positive incentives ensure the development of Ukrainian language and culture, learning foreign languages, especially the languages of the leading countries, the development of Ukrainian cinema and other Ukrainian cultural projects. Educational reform requires further implementation.

        The example of The Reformation, which 500 years ago opened Europe to the way of renewal and development, demonstrates that positive changes can occur quickly and comprehensively. Ukrainian society has already achieved the impossible - we stopped the Russian military machine. Moreover, now everything depends on the will, abilities, and intellect of Ukrainians.

        Today, it is extremely important to continue the reform course, not fall pray to unproductive and destructive populism, which can quickly destroy all the gains gained by Ukrainians in the heavy struggle over the last three years.

        The main task of our state is to protect every citizen, every family from the horrors of war and tyranny. In a state based on the rule of law, no political or social status, no profession can be regarded as above the law.

        The spread of a human's freedom to the extent where another human's freedom begins should become our fundamental principle. A free human in a free country is not a slogan but a guide to the future.

        Ukraine has every reason not only to survive but to become a regional leader capable of protecting not only itself but its allies as well. Only a strong, independent, national state can force others to reckon with its interests, to change attitudes towards itself. This refers not to an alternative to European integration but the real way to it. We should not claw at closed doors but rather be invited in as an essential strategic partner!

        Because no one except us is interested in the emergence of a new strong player in Europe, we must ensure the strengthening and development of the Ukrainian state are based on the full mobilization of our main resource – our human potential.

        A strong Ukrainian state is the guarantor of our independence and dynamic development it is a common cause of the whole Ukrainian people.


        Thank you!


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