Ukraine’s state defense enterprise, "Ukroboronprom" (UOP), is undergoing another management change. Its current Director Yuriy Gusev has been removed and the Cabinet of Ministers (CoM) has approved a new young director, 31-year-old Herman Smetanin, as his replacement. The CoM decision enters into force on June 28.
UOP was originally created under the command of ousted former president of Ukraine, who turned out to be traitor, Victor Yanukovych. One of its main proposes was to align Ukraine’s defense industry with Russia’s. Since its inception, UOP has been riddled by corruption scandals.
Gusev's dismissal is the result of overall poor performance amid appalling backlogs. In terms of armored vehicle production, the situation is deplorable. The Ukrainian armed forces have called for dozens to be produced every month, but the targets have not been met. In May, only one was produced and no Oplot tanks were produced.
An even worse problem for the UOP during Gusev's time concerned the missile program. Last year, very ambitious updated goals were approved, although for security reasons the details of the plan were not made public. President Zelensky was promised that by May 2023, there would be sufficient stocks of the Ukrainian tactical missile system "Sapsan" (export name "Grim-2") to mount a massive campaign to destroy Russian military infrastructure deep inside the Russian Federation.
Gusev was project director for the missile program, not just the supervising head of the company. There is a backlog and delay for which ePravda reported Zelensky's people are indignant. A source at the Office of the President commented on the availability of drones and missiles. “There is also a drone with a range of up to 1000 kilometers, but no one can find it, where is it? And who launches it? And the President keeps asking "Where are the missiles? Where are the drones?"
The banner at a farmers' protest calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to get Ukraine "in order" sparked anger in Kyiv.
Gusev was also supposed to implement reforms within the enterprise which has also not happened.
Ukraine’s defense industry has been problematic as a result of a combination of corruption and Russia’s direct desire to demilitarize Ukraine. In 2020, the Ministry of Strategic Industry was created. It was supposed to bring order to Ukraine’s defense military-defense complex, but it too appears to be struggling in this regard.
Three years on, many of the problems remain and are compounded by the ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine. An earlier, Kyiv Post report when the new Ministry was formed said it risked becoming a dystopian ministry of plenty.
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Lada L Roslycky LLM, PhD is an international security and defense analyst who has lived and worked in Ukraine, Europe and North America. She is a Senior International Security Correspondent. Her website can be found at www.theblacktrident.com / www.linkedin.com/in/LadaBT