The Government of Ukraine has increased the allocation for defense and security. This is stated in the message of the country's Cabinet. In 2020, 245.8 billion hryvnias ($ 9.9 billion) will be allocated for the needs of the security forces, which is 33.8 billion hryvnias ($ 1.3 billion) more than in 2019. Expenditures on the army and law enforcement are in second place in the new Ukrainian state budget, which is expected to amount to 1.0795 trillion hryvnia ($ 43.7 billion) with a deficit of 2.09%.
The priority of the Ukrainian government next year will be the repayment of public debt. Payments on international obligations will require the allocation of 438 billion hryvnia ($ 17.7 billion) - this is almost half of the state treasury income.
The Cabinet of Ministers plans to spend 172.6 billion hryvnias ($ 6.9 billion) on financing the Pension Fund, 136.4 billion hryvnias ($ 5.5 billion) on the education system, and 108 billion hryvnias ($ 4.3 billion) on health care. The remaining money will be invested in road construction, “support for energy independence”, cultural development, etc.
In an interview with RT, political analyst, economist Alexander Dudchak said that the new Ukrainian government is pursuing a suicidal budget policy. According to him, Kiev cannot continue to increase spending on law enforcement agencies, taking into account the current size of public debt and the difficult economic situation.
“This is the next budget of the war. The post-Maidan authorities again approve of the prohibitive (by the standards of the country's economy) expenditures on what they call defense. Kiev does not stop even astronomical debt payments to Western lenders. Naturally, in such conditions, the social sector and the welfare of citizens as a whole go under the knife, ”Dudchak stated.
According to the Minister of Finance of Ukraine Oksana Markarova at a press briefing in Kiev, the authorities expect to gradually reduce the state debt to GDP (now about 47%). However, in the budget for 2020, the government provided loans in the amount of approximately 380 billion hryvnia ($ 15.3 billion).
The Ministry of Finance of Ukraine does not see threats in the continuing increase in military spending. According to the ministry, the country's economic security is undermined by a high level of corruption, a slow pace of reform, "strengthening hybrid threats to national security", a lack of external financing and "narrowing access to international capital markets."
“We want to spend every penny of the taxpayer as efficiently as possible. Taxes need to be gradually reduced, but made equal for everyone, ”said Prime Minister of Ukraine Alexey Goncharuk.
Ambition and Opportunity
It is currently unknown how the funds allocated to the security forces will be distributed. According to the latest changes in Ukrainian legislation, the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC), which is now headed by Alexander Danilyuk, will play a leading role in this process.
As a rule, the money under this budget item goes to the maintenance of the Armed Forces, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the National Guard, the National Police, the Security Service of Ukraine, the Foreign Intelligence Service, the state security department, the special communications department, the state border service, the migration service and the emergency service. In 2019, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine received half of the budget in the security spending sector.
- APU infantrymen in exercises
- © General Staff of the ZSU
The fastest growing budget in Ukraine is the Ukrainian Armed Forces. 48 billion hryvnias ($ 1.9 billion) were spent on the army in 2014, a little more than 60 billion hryvnias ($ 2.4 billion) in 2017, 86 billion hryvnias ($ 3.4 billion) in 2018, and in 2019 year - 108 billion hryvnia ($ 4.3 billion).
However, only a small part of the regularly growing military budget of Ukraine goes to rearm and create new models of military equipment. This problem was repeatedly paid attention to during the period of President Petro Poroshenko. She has not left the agenda now.
In April 2019, adviser to Vladimir Zelensky Ivan Aparshin said that the country's Ministry of Defense has extremely limited financial resources. According to him, up to 80% of the funds allocated by the Armed Forces of Ukraine are used to pay salaries, allowances and material and technical support for the troops.
Aparshin advocates an increase in the military budget of Ukraine while increasing the monetary allowance of servicemen. For example, he promised that soldiers would earn up to € 1 thousand, and colonels - up to € 2.5 thousand.
The so-called military doctrine of Vladimir Zelensky says that 30% of the country's military budget will go to rearm the army, 20% to train the troops. The remaining 50% - for the maintenance of the APU.
In an interview with RT, columnist for Arsenal of the Fatherland magazine Dmitry Drozdenko said that Kiev’s military-political ambitions are “infinitely far” from real financial opportunities. In his opinion, a significant part of the money allocated for the maintenance of the army is deposited in the pockets of businessmen, officials and deputies in charge of the country's defense complex.
“On the one hand, Kiev really does not have enough money to develop the APU. But, as practice shows, the more they stand out, the more it is stolen. Over the years of independence, Ukraine has not adopted a single truly new model of military equipment. Almost everything that is currently being developed in the country is, in fact, the processing of the Soviet heritage, and not always meaningful, ”said Drozdenko.
"In the Poroshenko paradigm"
Interviewed by RT experts believe that the course to increase military spending could adversely affect the image of Vladimir Zelensky, who positions himself as the "president of the world." Recall that the Ukrainian leader calls the peaceful reintegration of Donbass his main political goal.
Under Zelensky, the work of the Trilateral Contact Group was intensified, within the framework of which a “grain truce" was established. An agreement was also reached on a divorce of troops in the area of the village of Lugansk. Now near the village there is a restoration of the bridge destroyed during the fighting over the Seversky Donets River.
- Vladimir Zelensky at a meeting with volunteers and veterans of the ATO
- © president.gov.ua
On September 7, Moscow and Kiev exchanged prisoners according to the 35 to 35 formula. Today, Kiev expects a meeting in the Norman format and "the return of all our citizens." At the same time, the Ukrainian authorities refuse phased implementation of the political points of the Minsk agreements and direct dialogue with the DPR and LPR.
As Oleg Bondarenko, director of the Progressive Politics Foundation, noted in a RT commentary, Zelensky, despite some concessions, continues to operate "in the paradigm of Petro Poroshenko." The analyst is convinced that Kiev is not going to carry out Minsk-2. In this regard, the policy of increasing the military budget of Ukraine should not be surprising.
“In 2020, a quarter of the budget of Ukraine will go to military spending. This suggests that the country will continue to be in a state of ongoing hostilities. And in order to continue to pump up APU with money, the government is ready to sell land and gain new loans. The Ukrainian government has such plans, ”Bondarenko explained.
A similar point of view is held by Alexander Dudchak. He recalled that after the election in 2014, Petro Poroshenko positioned himself as “the president of the world.” However, he refused to conduct direct negotiations with the self-proclaimed republics of Donbass and authorized the use of army units against the militia.
“So far, Zelensky has not done anything concrete to establish peace, although he enjoys the support of most citizens and deputies. The trend to increase the military budget will probably scare away both the authorities and the people of the uncontrolled territories. In their understanding, this means the prospect of ongoing shelling. Now everything is in the hands of Kiev. But I don’t see that Zelensky and his government really want to put an end to this war, ”summed up Dudchak.