The Armed Forces of Ukraine have developed new NATO standards, and Ukrainians have developed standards of national resistance in the struggle for independence

Oleksandr Zavitnevych, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on National Security, Defense and Intelligence, shared the main results of his work in 2023 with a correspondent of Army. Іnform. Here are excerpts from the interview. The full version of the interview is available at the link

(Hereinafter – direct speech):
– The very name of the Committee you head and its 14 subjects of jurisdiction a priori determine that the Committee plays a leading role in creating the legislative framework for strengthening our country’s defense capabilities. What is the most important thing you have achieved in this area?

О.Z: – I would divide the Committee’s activities to strengthen defense capabilities into two areas: the first is to meet the needs of the Defense Forces, and the second is to provide social protection for military personnel and their families. Efforts in the first area are focused on modernizing and increasing the capacity of the Ukrainian defense industry in accordance with the priorities set by the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to implement tactics and strategies for defeating the enemy. The priorities are shells and missiles, electronic warfare and drones, as well as new capacities for our air defense. Among the successful projects are the Ukrainian missile program launched back in the 21st century, the Defense Industries Forum held in September, and examples of successful joint production of certain weapons with partners. An important step forward in the development of the defense industry will be the upcoming special conference of the Ukrainian and American industries.

All members of the Committee are well aware of the value of every shell and every drone for Ukraine’s defenders. That is why the Committee is doing everything in its power to ensure that the process of supplying the frontline with weapons and ammunition of our own production is uninterrupted and provides the required amount of weapons and military equipment.

Among a number of draft laws considered by the Committee that are worth mentioning is the Law on Improving Procedures for Defense Resource Management. It introduces the principles of program and project management as the basis for effective defense resource management, taking into account the experience of NATO and the EU. Another such important document was the Resolution of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine “On Support of the Defense Industry of Ukraine under Martial Law”. Its very title reflects the spirit of the document’s context in supporting domestic producers. This resolution guarantees the executors of state defense procurement contracts compensation for all economically justified costs associated with their execution, as well as the amount of profit (supplier’s remuneration) as part of the cost of defense goods, works and services, in accordance with the terms of state contracts.

– And what about the second direction?

О.Z: In the second direction, the principle that was decisive was that people in uniform, whether at the front or on combat duty or patrolling the streets, should not be distracted by worries about the financial security of their families, what social protection they can enjoy even if an enemy bullet or shell takes their lives and they return to their families.

First of all, it is the Law “On Amendments to Certain Laws of Ukraine on Certain Issues Related to Military Service during Martial Law”. The Committee recommended that the issue of paying monthly additional remuneration to servicemen during martial law and resolving the issue of vacations for servicemen during martial law should be enshrined in law. I consider important the Committee’s position on the mandatory completion of a basic general military training course (lasting at least 1 month) for mobilized servicemen. Fixed-term servicemen may, at their own request, be transferred to conscript military service during mobilization or to contract military service for the period until the decision on demobilization is announced. All of this is reflected in the law.

The Committee members also actively worked on amendments to the draft law on amendments to certain legislative acts of Ukraine on strengthening social protection of military personnel, police officers and some other persons. It regulates the mechanism for paying compensation for unused vacation days during martial law, including in the event of the death of servicemen and police officers, paying a one-time financial assistance upon discharge from military service, paying financial support to servicemen who were captured and missing, including to their family members.

The Committee supported the Law on Improving the Paperwork and Treatment of Servicemen During Martial Law, which improves the issue of issuing certificates to servicemen on the circumstances of injury (wounds, contusions, maims) both as a result of the relevant investigation and without it, and simplifies the processing and sending of medical and other documents between military units and health care institutions, so that our military do not have to “go” for documents, and the documents now “go” for the troops.

We also amended the Disciplinary Statute of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, granting the right to assign another military rank for the second time from the moment martial law is introduced or a state of war is declared or hostilities actually begin.

– And now, what draft laws on social protection of servicemen are being considered by the Committee?

О.Z: First of all, this is the draft law reg. No. 10062 on improving the procedure for processing and using data in state registers for military registration and obtaining the status of a war veteran during martial law. It envisages the creation of an electronic register of persons liable for military service, an electronic office for conscripts, persons liable for military service, and reservists.

I would like to emphasize the provisions of this draft law that simplify the procedure for obtaining the status of combatant. Unfortunately, there are still many situations when the military have to go to offices, stand in lines and collect paper documents to obtain this status. The procedure for automatic acquisition of combatant status stipulates that after the execution of a combat order, authorized persons of military units are obliged to issue a certificate of participation in combat operations within 5 days and enter the information confirming this into the Register. The status of a combatant will be granted automatically after the certificate is generated along with a unique electronic identifier (QR code, bar code, digital code) using the means of the Register.

Persons with a war-related disability (or their representatives) will have the right to submit an application in paper or electronic form through the Unified State Web Portal of Electronic Services (Diia) or the Veterans Register, indicating the information necessary to establish the status of a person with a war-related disability, or attach copies of relevant documents certified by the applicant’s signature.

Family members of servicemen who were killed, went missing, or died as a result of injury, contusion, mutilation, or illness sustained in the ATO or during the defense of Ukraine against Russian aggression will also be able to apply in the above manner.

Read: «Russian aggression is a trigger, a trigger for other terrorists around the world» – an interview with the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on National Security, Defense and Intelligence

– Do the Committee members communicate directly with representatives of the Defense Forces?

О.Z: Thus, relatively speaking, communication with those at the frontline or in defense production has become particularly important since the beginning of large-scale Russian aggression. The Committee members constantly report on the results of such working meetings on social media, so every reader can get relevant information about these activities. We closely monitor the effectiveness of legislative acts aimed at meeting the needs of the frontline and the necessary conditions for our defenders to perform combat missions. All comments or complaints received are taken down in pencil and carefully considered at the Committee’s meetings and in cooperation with the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.

Two weeks ago, I visited the 110th Brigade named after Lieutenant General Marko Bezruchko, which is fighting in the hottest spots of the frontline. I met with the command and personnel of the brigade. We discussed their urgent needs and the situation on the contact line. Once again, I am impressed by the courage and resilience of our defenders, who are destroying the offensive potential of the Russian invaders around the clock. Among the issues resolved is the enhancement of the brigade’s combat capabilities with FPV drones and DJI mavic quadcopters. Combat experience in Russia’s large-scale war against Ukraine confirms that drones and quadcopters are one of the decisive factors in achieving success on the battlefield. Their successful use can destroy equipment worth millions of dollars. My personal contribution to the enemy’s losses will be another part of it – another 40 FPV drones have been transferred to the brigade. I wish all the drones to successfully hit the occupiers.

Photo from Oleksandr’s personal Facebook page. Transfer of FPV drones and quadcopters DJImavic 110 OMBR named after Colonel-General Mark Bezruchka

– Some Western experts, having indeed fallen into the Kremlin’s information trap, point out with a touch of pessimism that Western security assistance is balanced and partially offset by Russia’s ability to restore or even increase its resources to continue its aggression.

О.Z: Yes, but for some reason they do not analyze the material and intellectual reserves of the West in order to make the dynamics of change on the battlefield more favorable to Ukraine. Here, everything fits into the work of the Prussian general, military reformer, and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz. In his work “On War,” he determined that only two key circumstances encourage the enemy to make peace: a low probability of achieving the war’s goals and a high (unbearable) price for achieving them.

How can this be done in our situation? First of all, NATO should invite Ukraine to join the Alliance. This will immediately demoralize the enemy, as it will deprive them of the opportunity to capture and turn Ukraine into a coveted buffer zone. The next step is to provide full and timely security assistance to Ukraine in accordance with the needs of the Defense Forces. It is a regrettable fact that the promised number of shells did not arrive from the EU to the Defense Forces during the year, which had a very negative impact on the implementation of the planned activities. This should not happen again. What is more important, there should be no restrictions on the use of Western weapons against the defense industry and military facilities of the Russian Federation. Yes, the saturation of the air defense system is extremely flawed, but its effectiveness will depend on whether it outpaces the quantitative and qualitative indicators of the Russian air attack capabilities. Destroying Russian defense industry facilities would be much more effective and cheaper than countering the weapons they produce on the battlefield in Ukraine. After all, why is it that Russia can freely use all the weapons from Iran and North Korea, while Ukraine does not have such an opportunity with Western weapons?

The next direction is to maintain a reliable sanctions mechanism, to exclude the possibility of Russia using black schemes to meet the needs of the occupation forces, and to preserve economic potential. By the way, not all Russian enterprises related to the defense potential are still on the sanctions list.

In the international arena, to maintain and build up the anti-Putin coalition, to promote President Zelenskyy’s peace plan as a platform for the future security system of Europe and the world. To start actually implementing its points, at least with regard to the provision of Russian assets frozen in the West to Ukraine and the creation of an international tribunal for Russian criminals among the Russian leadership.

– Indeed, the introduction of at least some of these measures would be a serious factor in bringing our Victory closer.

О.Z: More recently, a Kremlin official admitted that in the spring of 2022, the Russian economy was on the verge of complete collapse. The West had only to apply pressure, to dare to do what was done much later. However, this did not happen, and as a result, Moscow managed to reformat its economic power and meet the needs of its occupation forces. In addition, the decision to provide Ukraine with the necessary samples of weapons and military equipment took years, and the introduction of sanctions that were really painful for Russia took months. Add to that public discussions in the media about the whole issue of providing Ukraine with security assistance. All this allowed the Russian enemy to prepare countermeasures and complicate the liberation of the occupied territories. I am sure that the Kremlin is already actively preparing for the appearance of F-16 aircraft in the Ukrainian sky.

I want to be understood correctly. We are sincerely grateful to our partners for their support and assistance, and we are well aware of its strategic importance in our fight against Russian aggression. My words should not be taken as a reproach. I am trying to urge all representatives of the expert community who analyze the situation on the contact line to do so professionally, that is, to identify the causes of the difficulties and challenges faced by the Ukrainian Defense Forces and to look for ways to prevent these causes from occurring in the future. I would like to emphasize that in a system of purely symmetrical responses to the enemy’s actions, the war can last for many years. It is time to improve the Euro-Atlantic decision-making mechanisms in response to Ukraine’s requests to meet the needs of our Defense Forces, build up the defense industry and quickly translate the decisions into practice. the fight against Russia may eventually turn into a battle with a five-headed snake. We chop off one head, try to hit the others, but in the meantime, the severed head regenerates.

Photo from Oleksandr’s personal Facebook page. Jack Lopersty, Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, accompanied by members of the Committee at one section of the front

– The Minister of Defense of Ukraine Rustem Umerov emphasized asymmetric responses to the enemy at a meeting with military attaches within the IT coalition a few days earlier.

О.Z: Yes, the vision that the war will be won by technology, that our advantage will be ensured by asymmetric responses through innovation, is both urgent and timely. Everyone I’ve talked to agrees that the realization of this vision can be one of the triggers for a fundamental turnaround in the Russian-Ukrainian war in favor of Ukraine. In fact, Clausewitz’s famous statement that victory requires resources and the will to win can be supplemented by a third element – the technology of using resources to inflict losses on the enemy.

– As for the will to win. How to ensure its dominance over the fatigue of war?

О.Z: First of all, we should not perceive the current situation and future events through the rose-colored glasses of our desires for supplies from the West, but rather be based on reality. Countries around the world, and even our partners in the Russian-Ukrainian war, still have two options: to protect themselves from Putin’s aggression by supporting Ukraine now, or to postpone the problem until later and confront Putin in an armed format in some time. In contrast, Ukrainians have only one option – to defeat the enemy, otherwise an independent and sovereign Ukraine will become a legend, and the Ukrainians who survive will be subjected to genocide and enslavement. I believe this truth is a must for each of us to understand. If weapons and military equipment can be supplied from abroad, national unity as the basis of a concentrated and directed will to win can only be nurtured by ourselves.

Therefore, we all need to understand the existential meanings of our President Zelensky’s calls for unity, the seriousness of his prediction that it is difficult now, and may be even more difficult given the missile genocide and terror and the enemy’s ability to continue aggression.

– In your opinion, what is the most important thing now to cement the will to win?

О.Z: Unity, unity and unity again, which the head of our state accurately characterized as the most effective, accurate and long-range weapon, noting that it was the united Ukraine that did not allow itself to be occupied and is now winning the war against the aggressor. Unfortunately, recently we have seen a significant increase in critical content aimed not at finding ways to strengthen national resistance, but at destabilizing the situation and even changing the leadership of Ukraine. In this regard, I advise you to recall the events of 1917-1919, when, due to externally inspired internal political strife that escalated into armed confrontation, Moscow won, and the idea of Ukraine’s independence and autonomy did not become a reality.

Secondly. Not to be an outside observer of the efforts made to repel the aggression of the Russian enemy, to help strengthen the capabilities of our Defense Forces, to support each other, everyone who needs help, and above all, the families of fallen heroes and those whose relatives and friends are fighting at the front, forging victory at their workplace, volunteering for Ukraine.

It is extremely important to keep the line and, with teeth clenched and will in a fist, not to succumb to depressive influences, to observe strict information hygiene, to resist provocative fakes to discredit the country’s leadership and the Kremlin’s information traps and lures of “making peace” or “freezing the conflict.” Everyone must do everything in their power and even more for the Victory.

Oleksandr Zavitnevych, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on National Security, Defense and Intelligence,

In conclusion, I would like to congratulate all the personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, their families and friends on their upcoming professional holiday! To all those who are on the front line today, I wish you a safe return! You are the pride of Ukraine, the shield and sword of the civilized world! Among the many kind words addressed to our Defense Forces by foreign officials, I would like to highlight those said by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin during his recent visit to Kyiv and meeting with Ukrainian servicemen. He acknowledged that people in the United States and around the world are incredibly impressed with the bravery of Ukraine’s defenders, their sense of duty, and their willingness to put everything they have in defense of Ukraine’s sovereignty.

Once again, I bow low to the defenders of Ukraine who are defending our country at the front, to all those who are waiting for them to return to their homes, and to all those who contribute to Ukraine’s defense capabilities.

May the memory of each and every one of those who gave their lives to stop the Russian aggressor, who died from enemy bullets and missiles.

I believe that joint efforts and the heroic struggle and resilience of all Ukrainians will bring Ukraine closer to victory in 2024! Glory to Ukraine and its brave Armed Forces!

The original material was prepared and published by Army. Inform and is published by the Ukrainian Security and Cooperation Center with the consent of the author.

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