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(Ukrainian) Rocket Secrets
Svoboda (Freedom) #13 (194), 6-12 April 2004 page 7 | Diana Kershenbaum

Posted on 04/08/2004 3:53:22 AM PDT by struwwelpeter


On 25 March the newspaper Den' (known for its close relationship with acting Ukrainian defense minister Evgeniy Marchuk) published a curious interview with the defense minister. It seems that the army has been holding a big sale. Several hundred guided anti-aircraft missiles (ZUR) for use with air defense systems simply... have disappeared without a trace. The details are as yet uncertain, but, according to unofficial sources, there is talk of about 350 rockets type 20D S-75M ("Wolf"), known in NATO circles as the SA-2 "Guideline".

In short, such news is no surprise, especially to anyone familiar with our military's record of property management. From 1991-2003 more than once there have been "weapons mysteries" in the Ukraine, and worse. But until then the source of the stories has not been a declaration by the defense minister himself, with further explanations four days later by his economic and finance aide, as well as a suspiciously violent reaction by a whole host of officials about the possible theft of "resources" of the Ukrainian ministry of defense (MoD).

Aleksandr Kuz'muk is a member of the armed forces committee for questions of national security and defense, and also an army general and people's deputy in President Kuchma's majority party. From 1996-2001 he served as minister of defense of the Ukraine, and until now his only comments on the interview by his colleague-general Evgeniy Marchuk have been: "I won't even comment on this idiot." Well, Aleksandr Ivanovich (Kuz'muk) apparently knows what he's talking about. It's no coincidence that during his term of service at the #1 military slot he received the nickname "sharpshooter", since during many maneuvers his missiles hit anything besides their intended targets. (Note: shortly after 9/11 an off-course Ukrainian SAM destroyed a Russian passenger jet and led to Kuz'muk's resignation.)

But one gets the impression that the ex-minister is beginning to worry. There's enough information to guess that Marchuk's revelations of missile sales wasn't spontaneous, but done in order to keep attention off a major scandal by presenting a somewhat lessor one for the newspapers to gnaw on. This gives the impression that Ukrainian bureaucrats are greater original thinkers than is often the case, but it's a ruse often used by Western image-makers and government officials and is said to come to them from the "academies" of the KGB.

It's probable that the military will have to answer a series of unpleasant questions. For example, how did it occur that the officially "liquidated" RS-18 (NATO SS-19 "Stilleto") which were destroyed or removed from the territory of the Ukraine in 1999, three years later turned out to still have 31 examples sitting in silos and warehouses? Or: what happened to those 230 "extra" nuclear warheads which - according to information from the general headquarters of the Ukrainian armed forces - existed, but - according to a declaration by the MoD - suddenly did not exist? The fact of the matter is, that the MoD reported on the transfer or destruction by the Ukraine of 3772 nuclear warheads, while the general staff reported that there were more than 4000. This "miscalculation" (for want of a stronger term) either occurred during the time of General/People's Deputy Kuz'muk's reign at the ministry of defense, or the conflicting data was published during his term. It's highly likely that until the end of 2000 the Ukrainian ministry of defense "increased" its supply of nuclear warheads by 25% in order to receive a corresponding increase in active international financing and aid in removing these weapons.

Besides the above, in April of 1998 a parliamentary investigative commision on the matter of unsanctioned weapons sales became interested in a letter by the assistant minister of defense - commander of the 43rd rocket army Colonel-General Vladimir Mikhtyuk. The letter, dated December 17th, 1997, detailed cooperation with the Russian MoD in the sale of 24 ICBMs of the type 15A35 RS-18 (NATO SS-19 "Stilleto"). Ukrainian paliamentary deputies were at the time more worried about where the profits from these illegal sales had ended up, and because of this they missed the most interesting part: of the 24 rockets that where sent to Russia... only 19 arrived (according to Ukrainian MoD information). The fate of the remaining 5 ICBMs is still unknown.

Of course, 5 missing rockets, that's no big deal. It's not like it's 350. But in this latest disclosure we're discussing anti-aircraft surface-to-air (SAM) missiles, which were known even to the older generation as the ones that shot down Gary Powers (and taking down a MiG-19 which was chasing him as well). The more modern (and absolutely combat-ready) ICBMs weigh in at 106 tons and are able to hit a target 10 thousand kilometers away. The rockets carry 6 nuclear warheads, each with the destructive power of several hundred thousand tons of TNT. So it's not far from the truth that Marchukov's announcement in March about the "SAM sales" is not the biggest scandal.

None the less, it's curious that though the Ukraine is required by the UN to declare her transfers of conventional weapons to other countries (including these SAMs), the above mentioned 5 missing ICBMs or 300 "extra" nuclear warheads attract no interest. Is it possible that these "sales operations" are connected in some way?

On the utilization of SAMs, ICBMs, and other "missile secrets" of Ukrainian MoD, we're not finished: In 1999-2000 our country sold Russia 581 KRVB long-range winged missiles type X-55SM (also known as the RKB-500 or by its NATO name AS-15 "Kent"). This deal was widely published in the news as the next step in the Ukraine's strategic disarmament, and did not summon the slightest suspicion by our mass media, though no details of the sale or execution of the contract on the Russian side ever surfaced.

It now appears that Russia received 575 KRVB X-55SM "Kents". Of course, the six missing missiles could be written off as either wrecked during warehousing, or "transferred to another authority", or the newspapers may have mistaken some of the numbers. But why then did the Ukraine the following year suddenly rush to sell Russia another 6 X-55s? Since there were no more X-55SMs, why did the Russians buy six older X-55s of an earlier series? After this reminder any further mention of the X-55 sales completely disappeared from the Russian mass media. It's possible to understand - Russia got her 581 rockets. But, according to our data, there were 587 rockets sold, and therefore the question where did the missing rockets end up still remains unanswered.

The X-55 - it's not an ICBM RS-18, but this two-ton "toy" can carry a 250 kt nuclear warhead 2500-3000 kilometers. In order not to give away technical details, we will remark only the the famous "Tomahawk" cannot hold a candle to the X-55. In any case, during the same timeframe yet another rocket deal was made with Russia. Our eastern neighbor was sent 386 X-22 air-launched ballistic missiles. Information about the deal was not published until the culmination, but if the deal was a clean one, why were no details released by the military or by the MoD to the UN?

It would be illegal for the MoD to remove even one piece of goverment-owned property from the state's inventory, bookkeeping, and control. The suspicious circumstances and quasi-legal sale and of even one rocket, or the diversion of these public funds to private persons, is a great crime. But the corruption is much wider and more universal. For example: in 2001 according to the inventory by our armed forces, 200 tanks were in use and combat-ready. And they were happy about it. But now it has been shown that from 2000-2001 in the Ukrainian armed forces only 10(!) tanks were in use.

From one point of view, there is optimism. Since the tanks are still there, it means no one stole them. But as much as the utilization of tanks costs money, it would be interesting to find out where did the money go that was to be used for maintenance of the other 190 tanks which according to the military were being utilized and at full combat readiness?

By becoming acquainted with such "unknown expenditures", you'll understand what's hidden behind yet another mystery, which has been bothering civilian observers of the military in our mass media. Every year our country sends official reports to 29 countries (including Iceland and Luxembourg) which document the activities and order of battle of our armed forces, in accordance with the Conventional Forces Europe agreement of 1991. In this regular report every country as a signatory to the treaty voluntarily gives up data about the number of its soldiers and weapons, including how many tanks, armored vehicles, artillery systems, combat aircraft, helicopters, and ships. And data on the organization and responsibilities of various regiments and higher which control these "riches", and even the location of these formations.

But what is surprising: this order of battle is never published in our country. The logical explanation can only be that if the information became known to the general public, many of the widely advertised businesses working with the Ukrainian MoD (especially those responsible for the missile "sales" in 2001) could be shown to be thieves. And no one, of course, wants to have to deal with that.

And so, it's almost a paradox - Kuz'muk should owes Marchuk a great debt. While the Ukrainian MoD (together with their croneys at the Ukrainian security service and federal prosecutor's office) will go out and catch a few thieves who are breaking down museum relics for the rare metals, the stories about other rockets (each of which cost much than an entire Spring Sale) doesn't attract the slightest interest. It follows that Evgeniy Kirillovich (Marchuk) has all the more reason to take offense at Aleksandr Ivanovich (Kuz'muk) for his denounciation.

Simply put, it's known that the majority of Ukrainian politicians and bureaucrats do not suffer from feelings of gratitude, nor from elementary far-sightedness. We won't rule out that soon will be seeing yet another "rocket scandal".

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Foreign Affairs; Russia
KEYWORDS: ukraine

1 posted on 04/08/2004 3:53:23 AM PDT by struwwelpeter
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To: archy; Bobby777; RussianConservative

Food for thought here, especially on the "extra" warheads which the US was tricked into "liquidating" (above Ukrainian newspaper article from 2001 on the destruction of the "last" Ukrainian ICBM). I'll bet Clinton got a kickback on this as well.

2 posted on 04/08/2004 3:57:37 AM PDT by struwwelpeter
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3 posted on 04/08/2004 3:58:36 AM PDT by Support Free Republic (Freepers post from sun to sun, but a fundraiser bot's work is never done.)
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To: struwwelpeter
Peter, could you please post the URL for this article? Thanks in advance.
4 posted on 04/08/2004 6:42:40 AM PDT by TopQuark
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To: TopQuark

Sorry, no URL. But give me your address and I'll send you the article. It's from the newspaper of the Ukrainian opposition party ("Nasha Ukraina"), led by Yushenko. Lots of demonstrations here lately, 20k + were out on the street protesting President Kuchma and his hand-picked successor Yanukovich. Last week George Soros came by to kiss up to Kuchma, and got splattered with mayonaise.

5 posted on 04/08/2004 7:07:06 AM PDT by struwwelpeter
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