Ukraine as an arms exporter

From a comment I wrote at SWJ. The part about Churchill is not directed at anyone here, or toward any of the recent posts. It occurs in my comment because of the heated rhetoric used about Ukraine by some:

“Ukraine a top small arms exporter?

Ah, yes, I remember well Churchill’s fiery speeches on Ukrainian small arms exports….

It’s almost like the majority of western foreign policy commentators, think tank analysts, the NYT, the Washington Post, every “fearful of being ostracized by the in-crowd” crony for the DC consensus, are completely and utterly full of it. (Well, not everybody, naturally):

Ukraine, unlike many other successor states of the Soviet Union, inherited a large and sophisticated defense industry when the USSR fell apart. It exports $1.3 billion worth of arms annually and according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute was the ninth largest arms exporter in the world between 2008 and 2012.
The military in Ukraine has suffered from the same neglect and mismanagement as the rest of the country. Ukrainian military personnel have taken part in coalition operations in the Balkans and in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ukrainian officers have attended professional military educational institutions in the United States and other NATO countries. Over the years, in meetings with Ukrainian officers, I have seen the beneficial impact on them from this experience. But the fact remains that the military, like many other Ukrainian institutions, has suffered at the hands of a crony capitalist state dominated by a corrupt elite with little interest in state- or nation-building, but plenty of interest in enriching itself.
Ukraine needs help, but the kind of help it needs cannot be reduced to shipments of military hardware. It needs to reform its armed forces and its law enforcement. The conflict with Russia remains a threat, but the bigger and immediate threat is the proliferation of militias, gangs and separatists in eastern Ukraine, where effective action by a competent police force loyal to the state and the nation could have prevented the tragedy that is unfolding there now. Many law enforcement personnel were cashiered en masse following the revolution. That has created a security vacuum and, one suspects, provided plenty of able recruits to help fill the separatists’ ranks.


Bremer II and the disbanded Iraqi Army.

The US/NATO and EU make a play for Ukraine–which has been going on for twenty years in a mixed up way with genuine desire to help the state–and has only enabled this process, hasn’t it? Just as in Afghanistan, so too in Ukraine.

Perhaps official DC is simply embarrassed by its serial failures since the end of the Cold War and wanted a “win” at any cost? That the Russians were more realistic about their proxies doesn’t mean that the answer is now for the US to shovel more aid toward our proxies. The poor Ukrainian people, but, then again, this is what happens when corrupt elites (and well meaning internal and external modernizers) are encouraged by outsiders with fantasies of using the Ukrainian state for its own power plays and expansionism.

In a multifactorial world, why can’t we talk about the multiple factors in Russia, Ukraine, and the US/EU/NATO that have all led toward this point? I suppose propagandizers can’t use real understanding to grandstand, so they simplify.”

19 thoughts on “Ukraine as an arms exporter”

  1. Does this post have a point?

    The logic seems to be

    1. Ukraine makes Soviet-style military equipment
    2. Therefore requests to send it modern military equipment are non-sensical
    3. Therefore, pushign back against Putin’s attack on Europe is elitism

  2. NATO commanders have only one reason for existence – to destroy Russia.

    If there was no Russia, there would be no NATO.

    NATO planned, financed and carried out a coup d’etat that replaced the legitimate government of the Ukraine with people loyal only to NATO and dedicated to the destruction of Russia. The Russian people believe that Russia will be colonized by people from the EU and the Russian people will be forced off their lands and out of their homes to die in UN refugee camps of starvation and the cold.

    Because they are going to die no matter what, and Russia will be destroyed, they are eager to use their nuclear arsenal to destroy the US and the EU.

    The pro-NATO Ukraine usurpers have slaughtered thousands and driven over a million civilians out of their homes in the Ukraine – shelled their homes, their schools, their churches and their hospitals without mercy. (see

    Putin has proposed that the NATO should be allowed to dominate the western Ukraine but the 2 new east Ukraine countries formed months ago by 90% votes should be recognized by the UN as free countries.

    This proposal will avoid war. If you feel NATO ought to conquer the Ukraine and Russia – well, there are many very good “Duck and Cover” videos on Youtube that your children will find useful. Obama must be certain the US can shoot down all the missiles Russia can launch. Some think he has excellent judgement. Why else does the S&P hit new reords every day.

  3. Grey Eagle’s comments are closer to what I was trying to say….

    1. Shipping a few arms to Ukraine would never have done much except increase the disorder, as our attempts to remove Assad have done or the blow-back from Afghanistan or the Iraq invasion (ISIS).

    2. We have multiple things going on, including a proxy war between the US/NATO/EU and Russia (aid is fungible, so we are funding the Ukrainian Army and its paramilitaries).

    3. Whether one believes there was a coup or not, we have effectively meddled in the affairs of another state, attempting to manipulate the election process toward a result we favor, treating the situation as a zero sum contest.

    4. Everyone is for sale in DC, Russian lobbies are not the only lobbies, the get Russia, get Iran, arms selling and NATOist lobbies are quite strong, more so than the Russian lobby (Anne Applebaum is a Polish citizen, naturalized in 2013 and is married to a prominent Polish official. Poland stands to get a lot of EU money and a lot of money from basing of NATO troops. Lobbies exist in Eastern European nations too.

    5. NATO is worried and looking for a purpose to continue its budgets, it’s a huge bureaucracy and on that level, it’s not unlike any DC government lobby that rabble rouses and fear mongers to get funding.

    AND MOST IMPORTANTLY: The Obama administration doesn’t understand the nature of escalation and nuclear weapons. It’s one thing to be stupid about Iraq or Al Qaeda, but the nukes can destroy everything.

    No Cold War era president, from Truman to Reagan, ever played with that line in Eastern Europe. Ever.

    It is so dangerous that I am completely depressed at the level of commentary. Standards have dropped so far in the past 20 years in our country, no one during the 80s would have made this mistake. Reagan pushed a bit and freaked himself out when he realized the Russians interpreted his remarks as that he was going to destroy the Soviet Union, literally, with nukes. That is one of the reasons his second term was different, there was no way he was going to blow up the world.

    Grey Eagle, you wrote a comment some time back that I wanted to post some time back and I will get to it. It was about authorization for military action and Congress and it was brilliant!

  4. I forgot to add that one point of my comment is that the Ukrainians have made serious military errors and governance errors, and this has contributed to their defeats. To focus entirely on Russian activity misses this point.

    To anyone that has been listening, since 2000, Russia and Putin have said, if you cross our red lines, we will act. We crossed a red line. They did what they said they would do. Recognizing that does not make me an apologist for Putin. It is common sense.

    And post Soviet Union–given the wealth of Europe–why are we still so heavily involved? The founders could never have imagined we’d get to the day when we basically said it was our exception right to topple any government we felt like, in any way we felt like. This is supposed to be conservative?

  5. And I thought the Bremer point was potentially interesting, to what extent did the disbanding of security forces contribute to the separatist violence? How many people were let go en masse, and how did this contribute to the violence, as we saw in Iraq with the disbanding of the Iraqi Army?

    Apparently, Ukrainian troops were pushed further and further east and ran out of ammunition. There logistical trails causes a collapse, and so on.

    There were many points in my post. Perhaps in future I should simplify.

    The MH17 stories fell off the page too. Interesting.

  6. I actually thought that Grey Eagle was satirizing the Putinist losers you see liking RT videos on Youtube. (The comment about the election was particularly funny.)

    But onparkstreet (who kindly responded to my comment) seems to agree with it. So either onparkstreet’s taken in by the satire account, or Grey Eagle was serious. Interesting.

    Points #1-5 are all irrelevant half-truths, and so don’t add anything meaningful.

    Saying “No Cold War” President ever stood up to Russian aggression in Ukraine is somewhat like saying that “George Washington never stood a bad word about Mao.” Historical analogies are fun until they are that ignorant.

    Onparkstreet’s second comment is either irrelevant (no war is ever perfect) or wrong (that Ukraine military was successfully rolling back the rebels until the Russian military intervened at scale).

    Why the love for Putin, even at the cost of honesty? Do you admire his gay policy that much?

  7. Your references for irrelevant half truths? Especially the nature of the Ukrainian Army and its training? Logistics? Ammunition? Any reference? Any at all?

  8. My best friend is gay so, yeah, I’m a huge Putin lover.

    And the Ukrainian army, according to many of the military sites I read, had trouble that wasn’t related to Putin’s help. The situation is complicated militarily but I don’t think that level of conversation will happen here.

    Any reference? Any academic reference, article, anything? I think everyone is lying personally, and I threw doubt on the coup claim.

  9. KIEV: Ukraine, which is fighting a war in the east against separatists, is to re-introduce compulsory military service from this autumn, but conscripts will not serve in the conflict zone, Ukraine’s defence and security council ruled on Thursday.

    The council did not say in its decision, which was quoted by Interfax news agency, for how long conscripts would serve.

    Read more:
    (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

  10. The Ukrainian generals mismanaged things which contributed to their losses. That was one point.

    “Demands for U.S. weapons support will likely grow as Russia’s troop buildup along the border continues and the threat of open warfare between the two countries increases. Obama himself has hinted that weapons might be sent if Russia invades Ukraine. Republican Sen. John McCain accused the Obama administration of kowtowing to Moscow and being “cowardly” for not sending arms already in mid-July.

    But the U.S. should think twice about sending weapons to Kiev. This has nothing to do with Russia—and everything to do with Ukraine.

    The Ukrainian military is not a well-disciplined or cohesive force. Its troops have made amazing progress in the past several months, taking back Slovyansk and other eastern territories from the rebels. They have begun shelling rebel strongholds in Donetsk, one of the most important targets in the campaign to retake eastern Ukraine. But their tremendous battle achievements have come in spite of weak preparation and professionalism. This means that the United States would find itself with little control over how its weapons might be used on the ground.”

  11. correction: “wasn’t related to Putin’s help to the rebels” in my above comment.

    The military questions that I have are:

    1. Where did the money for training the Ukrainian border forces go? They have been getting money since 2005 or 2006.

    2. The finances of the Ukrainian army and how it relates to the current need for conscription.

    3. Will conscription lessen Western Ukraine’s desire for conflict?

    4. Why did the troops run out of ammunition in some places?

    5. Did disbanded forces join the rebels?

    6. How many Ukrainian Army officers defect early on?

    And so on.

    Academic references would be preferable for any of these questions, but I will take blog posts, news paper articles, etc.

    Thank you for your comments, all.

  12. “1. Shipping a few arms to Ukraine would never have done much except increase the disorder, as our attempts to remove Assad have done or the blow-back from Afghanistan or the Iraq invasion (ISIS).”

    I am trying to see how this point is irrelevant to the conversation whether one agrees or not, since many in the West are pushing for arms or to give aid, which is fungible and so basically supports arms in an indirect way. So how is the point itself irrelevant?

  13. Onparkstreet,

    You recite a list of ‘facts’ as true and relevant as ‘the sky is blue,’ and then ask for ‘academic references’? What are you talking about?

    Words you say can be interesting when they matter. Is there any hope for you writing any? Or are you just trolling?

    Additionally, I was actually interested in your motivation for using this blog to push Putin’s disinformation campaign. What about his rule in Russia and invasion of neighbors attracts you?

  14. The opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” has a song “everything’s All Right” which is perfect for our times. That is the message of the MSM which is totally control by the White House. Today RT and Pravda are much more accurate than the NY Times, the Washington Post, ABC news, CBS news, NBC news and CNN news.

    We are in the middle of a great depression, our currency has been over inflated, the Fed is printing money to keep the S&P from crashing, EBOLA is spreading (always wipe off your shopping cart at the grocery store before you touch it), police believe in Us v Them where the police are ‘us’ and us middle class types are ‘them’, the EPA is shutting down power plants just as a record setting cold Winter is Coming.

    We have a president who is not a US citizen, a president raised by ISIS type muslims to hate the USA, a President who is working to get the USA nuked by Russia.

  15. A great diplomat, Henry Wotton, said “an ambassador is a man sent to lie abroad for his King”. Playing with words is the essence of statecraft. Nothing you hear, nothing you read can be trusted without verification.

  16. Grey,

    Thanks again. Unlike onparkstreet, you clearly have the courage of your convictions. Nothing can be trusted, but thanks to RT we know that Obama is Kenyan, RT is more accurate than the Washington Post, and only Pravda is brave enough to tell us of the great conspiracy against us.

    However else one could characterize these thoughts,they are the fully integrated beliefs of RT’s target market. Onparkstreet,by contrast, keeps ‘asking questions’ — no matter how meaningless or trite — as if there is independent thought there.

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