NEGLECTED MILITARY SPENDING IN TWO NON-ALIGNED COUNTRIES: SWEDEN AND UKRAINE

FoxNews on April 28, 2014, reported that the Ukrainian military went through years of neglect under the now-toppled pro-Russian government, which “deliberately dismantled” the military according to the current president, Arseniy Yatsenyuk. And experts agree.

“Because its leaders have tended to be pro-Russian, Ukraine’s military is as much designed not to fight Russia as it is to fight it,” Ben Friedman, who studies defense policy at the CATO Institute, told FoxNews.com.

In previous years, Ukraine’s military released reports about how it received only a portion of the funding allocated to it through legislation.

“Expenditure… failed to fully meet the resource requirements of the Armed Forces,” a White Book released by the Ukraine military in 2012 noted.

It went on to say that the number of troops had recently been cut by a third, training and equipment was insufficient, and that the troops used outdated non-digital communications equipment.

In an attempt to improve its military, Ukraine has asked for international help for military supplies.

“What we need is support from the international community. We need technology and military support to overhaul the Ukrainian military and modernize — to be ready not just to fight, but to be ready to win,” Yatsenyuk said last month.

…Ukraine used decrepit equipment, and [defense] spending was just 1 percent of its gross domestic product… Some experts said it was because of over-reliance on Western countries.

“More Western-oriented Ukrainians may simply have concluded that balancing Russian military strength was impossible, so why waste much money trying?” Friedman suggested. “[They] probably saw joining NATO as the best bet… Ukraine can be seen as an example of a danger created by alliances; their prospect can inhibit self-help.”

(Comment: Sweden is to a great extent in the same situation as Ukraine. One of Sweden’s most respected security analysts, Bo Pellnäs claims that Sweden should change its policy and retake its role as a stabilizing force in the Nordic region.

Pellnäs has criticized the Swedish government’s tough reduction of the Swedish defense forces. He is most critical to the de facto demilitarization of Gotland, the Swedish island centrally located in the Baltic Sea.

Russia has used the argument that they only wanted to protect their own citizens brings up the problem of large Russian minorities in the Baltic countries. Thus there is a risk of instability to the Baltic region.

The situation in Georgia in 2008 shows the importance of having boots on the ground. If the United States and NATO wanted to support Georgia, they should have brought supportive troops to the country in an early phase before the tensions aroused.

This would have had a preventive impact on Russia’s intervention.

Pellnäs is critical of the Swedish defense policy in more general terms for short-sightedness.

The Swedish government has to a great extent remained passive in the present crisis, except Foreign Minister Carl Bildt’s active diplomatic support for Ukraine. Having a fairly good defense industry helps in Sweden but like in Ukraine NATO cannot involve itself. Sweden and Ukraine are not members of NATO. This endangers both countries.)

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