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ICG Risk Blog - [ "Launch and leave" is not recommended for critical states as the Ukraine, Part 2 ]

"Launch and leave" is not recommended for critical states as the Ukraine, Part 2


As noted in Part 1, the Ukraine is in a fragile state despite the post election victory of its Orange Revolution. Russia will attempt to recover it as an essential part of the "near abroad" states that formed the USSR, even as the Ukraine struggles with the dysfunctions visited upon it by four generations of Soviet planners preference style economy.

While a part of the USSR, the Ukraine was an essential element of Russian industry, defense infrastructure, and agribusiness. One of the Ukraine's most saleable and quality assets is its defense industry output:

Ukrainian industry is participating in Russian programmes to deliver Sukhoi/Irkut Su-30MKI multirole fighters to the Indian Air Force and Sukhoi/KnAAPO Su-30MKK multirole fighters to China... These contracts involve the delivery of missile systems that were designed during the Soviet era and still incorporate Ukrainian hardware and subsystems. These include the Kh-59M (AS-18 'Kazoo') medium-range TV-guided missiles, deliveries of which were completed to these export customers in 2003-04. This co-operation is not seen as desirable by Russian industry, which is trying to 'Russianise' major weapon systems that currently require hardware imports from countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union. Until this process is completed - and in some cases this may not be practical - the importation of hardware will have to continue… In the longer term, Russian manufacturers want to end their present dependence on hardware and subsystems from Ukraine. The Kh-59M missile modernisation programme that resulted in the Kh-59MK, Kh-59MK2 and Kh-59M2 variants uses radar or TV seekers of Russian manufacture.

This is but the tip of an accomplished Ukrainian defense industry that it well aware that it is going to be shut out of an enormous Russian revenue stream, primarily to China and India, and has to find offsets either by direct or indirect means.

China already purchases equipment as diverse as turbofan engines to heavy lift transports from Ukraine and I would expect to see that accelerate. Ukraine has only to look at certain US allies as role models: Israel has long been a supplier of advanced military technologies to China, diverting US technology in the bargain. Forced to discontinue what was to be the first domestically built Israeli jet fighter, the Lavi, based on the US F-16 with $1.5 billion in US funds, the Israelis transferred the design to China where the Lavi's near identical twin appeared as the F-10. The Israeli STAR-1 cruise missile technology which can loiter above a battlefield for a considerable time searching for targets and incorporates US stealth technology and parts. Only the most fierce US diplomatic pressure prevented the Israelis from selling its Phalcon phased-array radar systems to China as part of a Chinese AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System).

Arms embargos have long been easy to circumvent given the web of private dealers and corrupt state entities, notably the former USSR where Russia, Poland, Romania, Belarus and Ukraine figure prominently. Of these former Soviet states, Ukraine was said to be the exception in that it provided direct government approval and assistance to weapons and technology exports to embargoed nations, notably Iraq, but given the level of government corruption in Russia and Belarus, it is hard for this observer to call the line between official action and corruption. It is clear that cash strapped economies exported, and will continue to export, weapons technology for hard currency.

Expert observers rightly observe that the best one can do is defer sales and make them more costly. I would not expect a shift in Ukrainian behavior just because Yushchenko has replaced Kuchma. There is a school of thought that Russia incentivized Ukraine and Belarus to sell to countries like Iraq as part of its plausible deniability. If correct, I would expect this to continue with Belarus but am not as certain with regards to Ukraine.

I fear that then SecState Powell's comment to Yushchenko before his inauguration that, "The United States wants to do everything we can to help you meet the expectations of the Ukrainian people after this turmoil," will go the way of Wolfowitz's earlier speech in Poland that, "We will not forget Poland's commitment. Just as you have stood with us, we will stand with you." Nothing happened then and many Poles see only US "ingratitude and indifference."

If we weathervane again, as I assume we will, we can only expect Ukraine to look to its own devices with the assets within its control. Yushchenko has said, "Our place is in the European Union," and that Ukraine will "become an honest nation" creating new jobs with appropriate salaries, fighting corruption, enforcing taxes, and making business transparent. Expect to see the means of achieving those goals in the Taiwan Straits and the South China Sea.

Ukraine participates in Russian export deals
Date Posted: 16-Feb-2005

How Russia keeps China armed
By David Isenberg
Asia Times
Nov 19, 2004

Many Helped Iraq Evade U.N. Sanctions On Weapons
By Craig Whitlock and Glenn Frankel
Washington Post
October 8, 2004

Gordon Housworth

InfoT Public  Strategic Risk Public  


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