According to Censor.NET's source, during today's Ministry of Defense board meeting, Minister Stepan Poltorak accused the Armed Forces of the untimely disbursement of budgetary funds in 2015 meant for the purchase of arms and repair of military hardware in the amount of UAH 3.5 billion (approx. $140.252 million) and named those guilty - Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant-General Volodymyr Khyzhyi and Head of General Staff Operational Support Department Mykola Kravchuk.
The minister has decided that Khyzhyi and Kravchuk should be examined by Jan. 10 by Defense Ministry Military and Medical Department board which is subordinate to the minister and decides on servicemen's medical fitness. Should the board come up with a negative conclusion on the state of health of Khyzhyi and Kravchuk, their dismissal from the Armed Forces may be put up for consideration.
The board's decision provokes a number of questions.
1. Chief of the General Staff Viktor Muzhenko bears direct responsibility for carrying out arms supply and maintenance programs. Muzhenko was present during today's board meeting but said nothing. His fear of anyone standing above him is well-known, but it is a shame when the Chief of the General Staff silently watches disciplinary actions being taken against his subordinates for his personal miscalculations. The whole situation as far as army's financing is concerned is, of course, reported to Muzhenko. It is very sad that the board failed to raise the issue of responsibility of the chief of the General Staff. This, alas, is a demonstration of a lack of objectivity in the board's decision-making and an obvious political motive.
2. The money got stuck on the accounts of Ground Forces commanded not by Khyzhyi and Kravchuk, but Lieutenant-General Anatolii Pushniakov, who also attended the board meeting despite having tendered resignation. Nobody said a word to Pushniakov about the money his structure had failed to spend. Is it possible for the commander of the Ground Forces not to be responsible for their budget? The question is rhetorical.
3. General Staff Operational Support Department headed by Mykola Kravchuk is subordinate to Deputy Chief of the General Staff Ihor Kolesnyk, who received no rebuke at the board meeting. Is that logical?
4. According to unofficial data, the unspent balance on the accounts of the Armed Forces was UAH 155 million (approx. $6.211 million) as of Dec. 28. Today, Dec. 29, the sum was UAH 10.1 million (approx. $404,728). Tomorrow, the Armed Forces are planning to spend the balance on their programs. Apparently, the minister spoke about some off-the-book details? We'll find out. It is more important to understand who is responsible for the use of money within the Armed Forces. For all the financial issues require the signature of Chief of the General Staff Viktor Muzhenko who for some reason was not mentioned at the board meeting.
5. Implementation of the state defense order is within the responsibility of Deputy Minister of Defense Pavlovskyi. The minister also made no comments, although Pavlovskyi falls within his immediate chain of command. Why?
"Contrary to media reports, the reasons of the tragedy caused by the explosion of munition depot in Svatove were not discussed during the meeting, no disciplinary decisions were taken as well. Unfortunately, for political reasons, the board omitted the key issue - the responsibility of chief of the General Staff . A ritual sacrifice of Khyzhyi and Kravchuk means Muzhenko will once again avoid any responsibility for the mess in army's management. Moreover, Muzhenko's silence at the board meeting means this spectacle is performed as agreed by Muzhenko and the minister," Butusov wrote.
"This means the scapegoats will be charged with all sins, Muzhenko will appoint a new person to coordinate logistics and implement state defense order that Khyzhyi had been previously responsible for. Since the allocated budget is the biggest ever, and armed forces development program as well as weapons development program have not yet been elaborated, the money could be spent on whatever the generals may choose. Muzhenko will keep silent, and the money will be quietly stolen. Well, I'll try to mess up this cozy business," the journalist added.