Excessive secrecy and weak planning undermine the effectiveness of international assistance in the defense sphere – new research


 Compared to 2014, the quality of monitoring and reporting on donor assistance to Ukraine in the defense sector has significantly improved at the operational and tactical levels, but the aid does not always meet the needs of Ukraine and is not always used efficiently. Sometimes armaments and equipment are supplied without crucially important components. Sometimes they are passed to the military that have not undergone adequate training. “The main problem is not even the risks of corruption, although they are evident, but effective management and excessive secrecy,” said Sevgil Musayeva, member of the National Defense Anti-Corruption Committee, Chief Editor of Internet publication “Ukrainska Pravda”, presenting a joint research of the Independent Defence Anti-Corruption Committee (Ukraine) and the Transparency International Defence and Security (TI-DS) (the UK) “Making the system work: enhancing security assistance to Ukraine” at a press briefing held at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

The research began in February 2016. It involved the study of Ukrainian legislation in this area, communication with representatives of the donors, with the military of the operational level who form requests and of the tactical level who use the aid. “Overall, we interviewed about 15 representatives of donor countries, about 12 soldiers and 4 volunteers. Based on this information, we developed necessary recommendations,” noted Artem Davydenko, analyst at the Independent Defence Anti-Corruption Committee, co-author of the research.

Experts believe that the main problem is excessive secrecy of the State Defense Order (annual procurement plan for armaments and military equipment), “Priority areas of defense” that determine the need for international aid, and a detailed defense budget. Donors are not able to determine what Ukraine needs most because of the lack of transparency of the procurement process and its planning. Non-transparency of the defense and security sector, including activities of state defense concern “UkrOboronProm” creates corruption risks, evokes donors’ distrust, causes problems with planning and reduces the effectiveness of the aid provided, noted Timothy Evans, member of the Independent Defense Anti-Corruption Committee, Colonel-General of the British army, former commander of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps of the National Defense Anti-Corruption Committee. Therefore, the first recommendation of experts is to make the most part of the state defense order and priority areas of defense development open by introducing changes to the Law of Ukraine “On State Secrets”.

“There should be more transparency in the strategic defense and priority areas. Of course, part of information should remain secret. However, its disclosure would increase donors’ confidence, because then they would be able to see and analyze all the needs. (…) Donors would also be able to give more information on the kind of assistance provided by them as well as to resort to more pressure for their recommendations to be taken into consideration,” emphasized Timothy Evans. It is necessary to clearly define the role of “UkrOboronProm” in the public procurement process and to ensure greater transparency of its activities.

It is also recommended to introduce a single regulatory framework for managing international aid in the defense sector. Receipt of all international aid should be registered at the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, and a separate body should be responsible for planning and coordinating the process. The experts also urge donors to specify clear requirements to the government of Ukraine, which will help reduce the corruption risks in the defense sector. Recommendation for donor countries is to make sure that requests for aid made by the Ukrainian side meet the real needs and strategic development plans. This aid should complement public procurement and the things that the state cannot provide on its own.

The experts reminded that today 18 countries provide military aid to Ukraine. The major donor is the United States. Last year the USA provided technical aid of $658 million, which is about 7% of the total military budget of Ukraine.  The UK and Canada also provide assistance to Ukraine.