Saturday 24th of August 2019, 19:18 CET
Ukraine's defense minister resigns: army in chaos
June 20, 2003
Associated Press

Posted by HW on August 24, 2019

Resigned
Ukraine's defense minister resigned Friday, just two months after President Leonid Kuchma sacked the commander in chief of the former Soviet republic's navy for neglecting his duties.

Combat readiness
Defense Minister Volodymyr Shkidchenko submitted his resignation during a hearing headed by President Leonid Kuchma on the results of inspections of military units' combat readiness and the use of state funds, military facilities, buildings and land occupied by the armed forces on the Crimean Peninsula, said Defense Ministry spokesman Kostiantyn Khivrenko.

Shortcomings
Kuchma said that there were serious shortcomings in the activities of the ministry and the army's general staff and that the military reform that has been under way in the country for many years is "unsatisfactory, slow, chaotic, and without a precise program", according to s statement by the presidential press service.

Least effective
"We have one of Europe's largest armies, and one of the least effective," he said.

Economic turmoil
Ukraine's military has been battered by economic turmoil since the Soviet collapse. The Defense Ministry is chronically tardy in paying its servicemen. Thousands of officers and retirees lack proper housing. Some military units send servicemen to do construction or agricultural work to supplement their rations.

Deadly accidents
The past several years have seen a string of deadly military accidents that officials have blamed on negligence.

2 years in office
Shkidchenko had served as defense minister since fall 2001, when Kuchma sacked his predecessor Oleksandr Kuzmuk and his aides following the downing of a Russian plane by a Ukrainian missile fired during exercises on the Crimean Peninsula. All 78 people on board were killed.

Deplorable conditions
The naval commander, Admiral Mykhailo Yezhel, was fired after Kuchma noted widespread pilferage of equipment and deplorable staff conditions during a tour of military facilities at the Black Sea port of Sevastopol

More fired
Last year, Kuchma fired Ukraine's top air force commanders after a fighter jet crashed into a crowd at an air show, killing at least 76 people and injuring scores more.
 
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Kuchma, Leonid (M) Politician Ukraine
Kuzmuk, Oleksandr (M) Politician Ukraine
 
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