The military prosecutor's office of Ukraine began criminal proceedings on the facts of possible abuses by officials of the Ministry of Defense during the implementation of the program for the creation and purchase of a corvette class ship. The amount of the alleged damage is 84.5 million hryvnia. It is reported by the Prosecutor General of Ukraine.

“Previously, the facts of abuse were assessed as containing signs of an offense under Part 2 of Art. 364 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (abuse of power or official position, entailing grave consequences). The pre-trial investigation was entrusted to the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), ”the Prosecutor General’s website says.

In poor condition

The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine announced the launch of the Corvette program in February 2017. The military department said that the new patrol ship will have the ability to perform tasks in the operational zone of the Black and Mediterranean Seas.

According to the declared characteristics, the ship's displacement will be 2.6 thousand tons, length - 112 m, width - 13.5 m and draft - 5.6 m, maximum cruising range - 4 thousand miles, sailing autonomy - 30 days, crew - 110 person. It is assumed that the basis of the ship’s strike armament will be 8 Neptune cruise missiles with a declared range of up to 280-300 km. In total, four corvettes should be built.

Initially, it was planned to spend UAH 16.21 billion on the implementation of the project, and the completion date for research and development (R&D) was scheduled for 2021. But in November 2017, the Ukrainian government issued a decree that extended the term for R&D to 2028. The amount of funding for the program was doubled - up to 31.93 billion hryvnia.

  • Freeze frame of a video about a promising corvette of the Ukrainian Navy
  • © Frame: Youtube video / See! President

According to the document, the ships will be designed and built by Ukrainian enterprises, however, weapons, individual systems and units are planned to be purchased abroad.

From the infographics that can be found on the YouTube channel “The! President”, it follows that the share of foreign components in the future corvette will be 38%. Kiev intends to import products from the USA, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland and South Africa.

In a November Cabinet resolution, it was reported that the corvette was created on the basis of a patrol ship of project 58250. According to the Ukrainian government, the appearance of such ships in the fleet will protect the country from transnational threats caused by the "annexation" of Crimea and the "loss of the naval potential" of the country. However, to date, information on the progress of R&D on the new ship is not available.

Recall, the project for the construction of corvettes of the project 58250 was launched back in 2009 under Viktor Yushchenko, but in 2011 under Viktor Yanukovych it underwent changes and received the official name “Corvette”. The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine expected to include 12 such ships in the fleet until 2026.

In May 2011, the head corvette Vladimir the Great was laid, but in June 2014 Kiev froze the construction of the ship due to a lack of funds. As of July 2019, its readiness was 32%, 6.8 billion hryvnias were required to complete the construction and equip foreign weapons.

According to Ukrainian media, the corvette allegedly could be launched in 2022. However, at the official level, the issue of resuming the construction of Vladimir the Great is still not resolved, although Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky was informed about the problems that the 58250 project is experiencing.

The situation with the construction of Ukrainian patrol ships is aggravated by the catastrophic situation of PJSC Black Sea Shipbuilding Plant (ChSZ, Nikolaev), which was appointed project executor 58250. The unfinished Vladimir the Great is located on the stocks of the enterprise.

In July 2018, the Commercial court of the Nikolaev region terminated the reorganization procedure and declared ChSZ bankrupt. In September 2019, the sale of the property of the enterprise, which in Soviet times built aircraft-carrying cruisers, began. Equipment of workshops, floating dock, cranes and vehicles of ChSZ are put up for auction.

Since 2014, the main executor of orders of the Ministry of Defense for the construction of naval equipment has become PJSC Kuznitsa na Rybalsky Plant (formerly Leninsky Forge). Until the fall of 2018, this enterprise was part of the business empire of Petro Poroshenko.

The Ministry of Defense expected that until 2020 the Forge on Rybalsky would build 18 artillery boats of the Gyurza-M project 58150. However, the military managed to find funds for only six ships. Under the threat of disruption is the project of a promising missile boat of the “Doe” type. The Ministry of Defense planned to receive three of these ships by 2021, but at the moment, even the lead ship has not been laid down.

As acknowledged by the Ukrainian military themselves, the ships that were part of the country's Navy until 2014 are now in unsatisfactory condition. In particular, the head of the Ukrainian military center Taras Chmut at the end of 2018 in an interview with BBC News Ukraine assessed the state of the naval forces as “catastrophic”. Confirmation of his words can serve as the unenviable fate of the flagship of the fleet “Getman Sagaidachny” (project 11351 “Nereus”), which over the past five years has been repeatedly repaired and immediately failed after repairs. In addition, in terms of combat capabilities, this ship is noticeably inferior to its foreign counterparts due to the lack of missile weapons.

In total, in addition to the Getman Sagaidachny and artillery boats, the combat forces of the Ukrainian Navy today include the Vinnitsa corvette (project 1124P), the average landing ship Yuriy Olefirenko (project 773) and the raid minesweeper Genichesk (project 1258 ), as well as a number of combat boats. The type of fleet that Ukraine now possesses is commonly called the “mosquito”.

"The mismanagement of the fleet"

The leadership of Ukraine recognizes the country's inability to modernize the Navy based on its own production, technological and financial resources - since 2014, Kiev has been negotiating with Western states on the provision of military-technical assistance through the Navy.

In 2015, the United States transferred five Sea Force inflatable boats to Ukraine. In 2018, the country's Navy received two used American coast guard boats of the Island type; in the near future two more such ships will be delivered to Kiev.

At the end of last year, the United States proposed transferring two decommissioned Oliver Hazard Perry frigates armed with Harpoon anti-ship missiles to the Ukrainian Navy. These ships are gradually being withdrawn from the US Navy, and Kiev expects to save on their acquisition. In addition, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine is negotiating with Paris on the launch of the joint production of patrol boats OCEA FPB 98.

Experts interviewed by RT believe that Kiev is aware of the futility of attempts to revive its own shipbuilding industry. In this situation, Ukraine is forced to occupy the niche of an importer of marine equipment, including used samples.

“The Ukrainian Navy is in a deplorable state. Kiev does not hide that it seeks to confront Russia in the Black and Azov Seas, but there are no real resources for this. The reason for this is the loss of Crimea, the lack of budgetary funds and the mismanagement of the fleet that reigned during the years of independence, ”retired first-rank military captain Konstantin Sivkov said in an interview with RT.

The expert noted that the creation of corvettes could increase the combat and operational capabilities of the Ukrainian fleet. However, Sivkov doubts that modern Ukrainian plants are able to complete the construction of Vladimir the Great and implement the updated project 58250.

“In my opinion, under Zelensky, the situation in the Ukrainian fleet will not change for the better. I do not see professionals in his team, but, as with Poroshenko, there are hunters who are ready to spend money on modernization of the Navy. The more money will be allocated for these needs, the more it will be stolen, ”Sivkov believes.

  • Vladimir Zelensky surrounded by officers of the Ukrainian Navy at the Sea Breeze 2019 exercises, Odessa
  • © Ukrainian Presidential Press Service / Handout via REUTERS

In a RT commentary, the head of the Bureau of Military-Political Analysis, Alexander Mikhailov, said that Ukraine had lost the opportunity not only to build corvette ships, but also to repair them. According to the expert, this is confirmed, among other things, by the unsatisfactory technical condition of Hetman Sagaidachny.

“The current plans for updating the Ukrainian fleet will suffer the same fate as previous grandiose initiatives. The corruption Zelensky promises to fight is just the tip of the iceberg of problems. Most likely, over the years of independence, Kiev has lost competence in the shipbuilding industry. Ukraine can’t even repair ships efficiently, and at the same time it is threatening to build new corvettes, ”Mikhailov summed up.