Dmitry Tymchuk: ‘The Generals of ATO are pathetic’


We are speaking with Dmitry Tymchuk, the leader of ‘Information Resistance’ (IR) group and the head of ‘Military and Political center’, about anti-terrorist operation in general and problems of Ukrainian armed forces that relates to the execution of ATO.

-Everyone has questions why ATO is so sluggish and ineffective. What is your opinion why the operation has failed?

 I wouldn’t say that ATO has failed. Under all given circumstances ATO has reached some results and that is very good. We need to consider that there were plenty of factors influencing the success of ATO in order to understand the amount of problems that ATO soldiers had to overcome. There are several reasons for inefficiency: political, military, psychological, economic (speaking about material and technical supplies)

 -I prefer to start from the cornerstone – politics.

Starting from events in Crimea it has become very common to personally blame either O. Turchynov or A. Yatsenyuk. And Yatsenyuk is involved only to not leave Turchynov alone in the blacklist. And, of course, generals of armed forces are there to be blamed as well. Our ‘Information Resistance’ group is not an exception – we also have blamed our government on many occasions.

And it is pretty logical: a fish rots from the head down. On the other hand, after Crimea we had many opportunities to evaluate the situation from the common point of view. And the more we learned the more questions arose regarding every level of governance. Moreover, it turned out that most of questions aimed at Turchynov had to answered by someone else.

Talking about political situation. Yes, after events in Crimea we had no clear position from our highest ranking officers. But in last two months many things have changed. According to our data, Ukrainian government mustered the required political courage to finally start dealing with problems in Donbass.

Unfortunately there’s starts other problems. Firstly, international pressure. Yes, the West supports us – applying sanctions for Russia and encouraging us. But the West has a clear stance – only negotiations and no blood.

This is nonsense. Negotiations are possible only with those who solve problems in a diplomatic way. But if those invited to “round-table discussions” reply with terrorism, they must be punished.

Second problem is Russia. A lot was said about not provoking Russia that I can’t go into that again.

-What about famous ‘Tymoshenko trace’? We often hear that Yulia Volodymyrivna doesn’t need presidential elections in which she has no chances to win. Therefore, Turchynov and Yatsenyuk, who are controlled by Tymoshenko, are failing ATO on purpose to prevent the election.

I have to admit that we also had such suspicions. But now I can claim that yes, current government can’t find competent people to manage ATO. This is the problem and responsibility of our government. ATO is blocked by many internal problems, but we can’t see ‘Tymoshenko’s hand’ there. Whether you believe it or not, this is the way it is.

Personally I’m convinced that current government already has enough real shortages and there is no need to invent new ones. It would be better to realize the situation and fix those issues that currently are ‘in the shadows’.

-Responsibility of 13th of May, 2014 tragedy when soldiers of 95th brigade died, in social networks was assigned to Turchynov and Avakov…

This is nonsense. In case of Avakov – what is the relation between him and 95th brigade or military actions during ATO? These questions should be given to Koval  (Minister of Defense) and Mykhailo Kutsyn ( Chief of the General Staff and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine). But for unknown reasons none of the critics have even mentioned them.

In case of Turchynov is the same situation. Is Turchynov assigning tasks for every brigade? Is he giving direct orders? Is he responsible for supplies? Is he personally responsible for actions that according to the military alphabet should be responsible head of a squad? If commanders starting from lieutenant doesn’t know statute then how president is involved into this?

We need to get rid of our habit to blame government for every single reason. It is very convenient to do so but with this way we will never solve our main problems and no significant victories will be achieved.

But I’m wrong – President is related. Turchynov‘s problem as the Supreme Commander is that in ATO headquarters sits incompetent bunch of high ranking officers, which competency and adequacy for that positions are questionable. And the all other problems goes down ike a domino to the lowest rank soldiers.  

By the way, the generals of military in ATO headquarters are causing most of the doubts. These gentlemen embody the poorness of our military. Pathological tendency to lie and pretend, panic fear to take responsibility for decision making, total lack of professionalism. This is an ugly picture and in today’s situation is unacceptable.

-There were many great talks about General Vasily Krutov, the Head of ATO, but as the time went on these talks were getting more and more negative…

Before ATO I talked with V. Krutov only once, therefore I can’t say that I know him well. I can only agree with the opinion of those who know him for a long time and are working with him now. The work in the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has negatively affected him.

-Why is he not substituted with someone else?

To whom? Tell me the name. We (ed. Information Resistance group) will talk about the candidate and in case of him being trustworthy we start lobbying him. I personally don’t know any good candidates. On the other hand, I’m not an expert of anti-terrorism.

 -So, everything can be fixed by changing the government?

We (ed. Information Resistance group) group thinks that government issues are the main problem. Solving this problem will catalyze solutions for the rest of the problems.

First of all, behavior of the soldier depends from his commander. I know this from the times of my own military service when I was a deputy company commander.

From the very beginning of ATO campaign the biggest issue was and still is that our forces – firstly military (more precisely commanders of all levels)- are not psychologically prepared for a battle. It is a paradox, but it is a fact. There are plenty of examples starting from Crimea when officers of middle and juniors ranks and privates simply refused to execute commands or even sabotaged them.

Our army was never fighting seriously. Experience in peacemaking operations is very limited – only Iraq can be mentioned. In other campaigns our soldiers were mainly in guarding roles. All this leads to a catastrophic condition of military training and total degradation of the military education system.

And much the same is within the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Our officers were very brave when confronted with unarmed protesters of Maidan. But when they faced well armed criminals we immediately fell into trouble.

But now we see that SBU together with the National Guard of Ukraine are successfully executing their tasks. In general, experience has a high price, but it can be gained and this is the most important thing. Also I am sure if we would have more adequate generals coordinating operations we would have much more victories and much less blood.

 -Speaking about the provision of ATO or more exactly the already legendary lack of it?

At the very beginning of operation it turned out that army had no resources. Army warehouses were empty – most of the things were stolen ages ago. By the way most of the thieves are working in the Ministry of Defense and General Headquarters now and continue to do the dirty jobs. For now I’ll say no names, but I promise, we are going to reveal them.

Resource allocation system (which was implemented even before Yanukovych and his team) turned out to be a very efficient way to steal governmental money, but was poorly suited to supply outside the permanent dislocation place located military units combat actions.

In the Ministry of Internal Affairs – the same problem. Suddenly it was noticed that there are no basic tools for police operations, for example stun grenades. It seems that everything was consumed for Maidan protests during reign of Yanukovych.

All these problems are being solved now. But urgency causes other troubles. The Ministry of Defense public purchasing system (which is declared as “clear”, which in fact is strongly corrupted) allows to receive goods only after 120 days from the day of the public offer is made even when finances are available. Recently a special law for ATO was passed but we can’t say that it was implemented successfully.

Another problem is that we simply can’t buy all the equipment we need from local manufacturers. Nevertheless the West promised their support, but until now not much of it had reached us. We can’t buy equipment from Europe because while “supporting” us, Europe has prohibited selling military equipment to Ukraine. On one hand, it makes sense because EU and UN has regulations preventing sale of weapons to conflict zones. But on the other hand, no one needs such “West support”. It is just a hypocrisy. As of now we can only rely on ourselves and partly on Americans.

But we must remember, that every problem with supplies of equipment is directly related with health and lives of our soldiers. Also every military officer that is responsible for solving these problems must be named and we should demand personal responsibility from him. Otherwise ATO will remain a waste without any significant results.

Interviewer: Ana Shumakova


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