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On a tinderbox. How did the President and Pashynskiy fight over ammunition – investigation

“I will not let anyone steel from the army. I will cut hands of those who steels from the army».

Such a statement of Petro Poroshenko was made simultaneously with detention of officials of the Ministry of Defense, who are being charged in fraud operation during procurement of fuel, and a publication in «Ukrainian Pravda» egarding another shelf company in «defense sector».

Besides that, the publication said that billions of the defense sector became the reason for tensions between Poroshenko and «People’s Front».

Publication overwhelmed representatives of both camps. UP and the author of material were accused of manipulations and participation in the discrediting campaign. However, the reaction of President’s coterie and that of representatives of «People’s Front» only proved: conflict of coalition partners over defense cash flows does exist.

One of the issues where substantial differences in the positions of parties can be seen is ammunition for army. Its price – billions of budget hryvnias. Each group accuses another one of trying to get their piece of this lucrative pie.

Personal concern of Poroshenko

“Army is the subject of my personal concern», – assured Poroshenko when talking to journalists on 13 October.

«People’s Front» is mocking this statement of the President.

“Yes, ammunition plant is really his «thing». We were told exactly like this: this is clearly our «thing», don’t get into it, we will ourselves launder off funds on this, – says one of the members of the parliament from «People’s Front» when talking to UP.

Talks on the necessity of construction of cartridge-manufacturing plant and ammunition plant in Ukraine have been discussed by authorities in Ukraine since 2014. During that time announced were different projects and deadlines, but the state never came down to implementing these plans.

Now there is a substantial difference in views of the presidential team and «People’s Front» members regarding the issue: «Does Ukraine need the production of small caliber ammunition, particularly, bullets? »

On 6 October 2016 on the day of a public statement about a resignation from the office of the Head of Supervisory Board of «Ukroboronprom» Serhiy Pashynskiy told that Ukraine does not need a cartridge-manufacturing plant.

“We have enough ammunition to go to war with China, Russians haven’t made that many», – one of Pashynskiy’s friends explains negative attitude of «People’s Front» to plans of construction of a cartridge-manufacturing plant.

It was right away that several deputies of parliamentary committee on national security and defense told UP that they received an information from the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine with a full list of ammunition that is being kept now on the military warehouses.

“I cannot give you numbers, this is a secret information. But the stockpiles of certain small arms of Armed Forces of Ukraine are 300-500% higher than the needs formed by the Ministry of Defense. Needs of the Ministry of Defense – means one year of active combat action», – parliamentarian from «People’s Front» Dmytro Tymchuk told UP.

«We have 3-4 types of munition of which we have a deficit. Its stockpiles are, for example, 20%, 8% of the needs. The state has to focus on providing for these 4 types of munition» – Pashynskiy added.  

Even though the needs of munition are classified, any soldier at the front line can tell that military men don’t have enough bullets for sniper rifles, munition for AGL (automatic grenade launcher), UBGL (Under-Barrel Grenade Launchers).

In order to cover the needs of the army in these munitions, we don’t need to build a plant, think members of the parliamentary committee on defense.

“Operational costs of procurement of deficit munition will be incomparable with investments needed to organize a production. In order to receive 10 000 bullets for sniper rifles, we don’t need to build a plant, we can simply buy them from a certified producer», – says secretary of the committee Ivan Vinnyk.

Event though Vinnyk is a deputy from Petro Poroshenko Block, in «defense» issues he is affiliated with the group of Pashynskiy.

Plans of Poroshenko, on the contrary, does include the cartridge-manufacturing plant, assures one of the parliament members from the «People’s Front».

“Poroshenko found partners to produce bullets. Turchynov was outraged, that the country does not have artillery shells, and he (Poroshenko – UP) wants to build a plant for production of bullets which we have billions of», – says the parliamentarian from «People’s Front».

Munition from People’s Front: imports, «Martynenko line», «FORT» and TASCO

In its turn the President’s team gives some options as to those who «People’s Front» members use to earn on munition for army.

«Pashynskiy and Avakov are lobbying either procurement of munition abroad or from «Fort». Pashynskiy spreads the word that a cartridge-manufacturing plant is not needed. However, bullets kept in warehouses were manufactured in Soviet times, 25 years ago and more. In what condition are they? Besides that, we need to meet NATO standards», – says a person from the President’s team.

Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Olexander Turchynov has many times made photos with «FORT» products. And Pashynuskiy’s son is dealing with foreign contracts within structures of «Ukroboronprom».

In a conversation with UP one of the parliament members from the People’s Front dropped a word about another possibility to produce small firearms munition – «Martynenko line». It was about equipment that an ex-parliamentarian of the People’s Front Mykola Martynenko could relocate from Luhansk Cartridge-Manufacturing Plant, which was seized by insurgents. Martynenko has had influence on that plant since 2000.

However, other sources of UP gave different comments regarding what was saved from Luhansk Cartridge-Manufacturing Plant.

«The plant had two production lines – manufacture of cartridges and production of equipment for manufacture of cartridges. Cartridge lines were working on exports. And really, after military conflict broke out in the East one manufacturing machine from this plant that was being exported was arrested by the Security Service of Ukraine. But this one machine cannot function as the whole cartridge production line», – said representatives of «Ukroboronprom» to the author.

«Documentation was rescued from Luhansk. They made something of it in Kharkiv. And now they are ready to produce munition for small firearms. There is a line located in Kyiv region. And it could potentially be readjusted for manufacture of special munition that we need. Moreover, they say, that they can». – Tymchuk shared his version.

There are also people in the President’s team who say that «People’s Front» members are lobbying interests of TASCO corporation.

On 2 October volunteer Roman Donik, who is close to army commanders, wrote about this.

«There is some TASCO company that deals with re-equipment and resale of ammunition. Its manager worked in «Ukroboronprom» before, some Pavliukov. Pashynskiy and Vinnyk are behind this company. They are lobbying its interests and cover up its activities», – wrote Donik on his Facebook page.

The volunteer assures that it was upon initiative of the Pashynskiy committee that the idea to disband ammunition warehouse in Chudnov of Zhytomir region came up. Along with this, remaining ammunition should have allegedly been transferred to a private company. And this process was blocked by Chief of the General Staff Viktor Muzhenko which became the reason for “People’s Front” to demand his resignation.

«People’s Front» has never before been publically affiliated with TASCO. Therefore, «Ukrainian Pravda» decided to look into more detail whether such a connection exists.

Lobbying TASCO interests was denied by Vinnyk in a conversation with UP. Parliament member said allegations of Donik were fake and prepared by the team of Muzhenko.

«As far as I know, TASCO is not capable of building any ammunition plant. Company’s profile – exclusively utilization, it has neither resources and experience, nor the capacities to establish a technological production», – Vinnyk assured.

The president of TASCO corporation Valeriy Pavliukov told UP that the company has already prepared the production of ammunition line, particularly, 23-mm ammunition for anti-aircraft systems, 30-mm for infantry armored vehicles and armored personnel carriers.

In the list were also those that are considered to be in the deficit – AGL-17 and AGL-25. TASCO can also produce 100mm and 120mm ammunition.

TASCO presented its products this year during the exhibition «Weapons and Security».

In addition to that, according to Pavliukov, the corporation procured equipment for production of cartridges of 7,62 caliber, and it is next year that it plans to prepare for production of ammunition for a large-caliber machine guns 12,7 and 14,5.

Pavliukov also mentioned the assistance that the corporation received from Pashynskiy committee.

«When it came to the situation that «Sumyoblenergo» refused to provide electricity to us, no one helped. It was only the parliamentary committee led by Pashynskiy that did, secretary – Vinnyk. I received the permission to receive electricity and it was thanks to this that we could develop the production of ammunition», – said Pavliukov.

Pashynkiy helped without having any interest, says TASCO president. Others, on the contrary, demanded a bribe – 1 million UAH.

One of the People’s Front deputies told UP about Pashynkiy’s affiliation with TASCO. According to him, the head of the committee was leading negotiations as a result of which TASCO agreed to give the Ministry of Defense ammunition that wasn’t utilized free of charge.

Ammunition plant from the Ministry of Defense

What «People’s Front» and President’s coterie agree on is the necessity to have a national plant of medium and large caliber ammunition.  

It was in Summer last year that Olexander Turchynov made public statement that Soviet reserves are limited. That means that there is a need to quickly implement a program on production of national ammunition.

«We have no alternative besides to create our own base of production of a wide range of ammunition, starting from cartridges and up to large caliber shells and mines. Today we have many gaps in large caliber ammunition that we have to quickly cover for», – said the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council on 15 June 2016.

Video: Around 800 enterprises will be engaged in production of Ukrainian ammunition, – Olexander Turchynov

On 27 January 2017 National Security and Defense Council decided to start the realization of the program on creation and mastering the production of ammunition and special chemistry products.

Appropriate financing for the realization of this Program was allocated from the state budget for 2017. According to UP, in total this 5-year Program foresees expenses in the amount of 9 billion UAH.

Ministry of Economic Development was designated as the implementer of this program.

Instead, on 10 July, while the National Security and Defense Council was considering amendments to the budget, it was decided to allocate 1,4 billion UAH «to procure and produce ammunition» for the Ministry of Defense.

Video: President about financing of defense and security sector

A decision to allocate funds for the Ministry of Defense surprised many people.

The only one who could explain the essence of this decision was the first deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleg Gladkovskiy.

According to the former business partner of Poroshenko, this was a decision of the interdepartmental commission on defense and industrial complex. It is Gladkovskiy who is in charge of this commission.

“This was a violation of the planned idea. According to the mandate, it is the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade that is responsible for preparation of production. Here we have risks that these funds will not be spent. Ministry of Defense does not have adequate land plots in order to create such an enterprise on production of ammunition», – said the head of the expert council of the League of Defense Enterprises Valentyn Badrak in a conversation with UP.

He says that there are at least five proposals from foreign companies to install production facilities for ammunition plant. In this regard he also mentions TASCO corporation.

TASCO president also says that Ministry of Defense won’t be capable of building an ammunition plant on its own.

«They must be counting on NATO standards. In this case one needs to have good partners who have documentation, have possibilities to transfer technologies and construction documents», – believes Valeriy Pavliukov.

In September the Minister of Defense Stepan Poltorak told about negotiations with Canadians regarding the construction of ammunition plant.

And a few days later Deputy Minister of Economic Development Yuriy Brovchenko informed of the work on two issues regarding the creation of ammunition production. In particular, about negotiations of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade with the British company Stiletto.

This again can also demonstrate the competition between different groups of influence.

«Organization of production will be taken care of by the Ministry of Defense on its capacities – this is one thing. As of today we have already signed contracts to prepare the production of large-caliber ammunition on one of the enterprises of «Ukroboronprom». Besides that, cooperation in production of small-caliber ammunition has also already been organized on the capacities of Scientific and Production Association «FORT», – said Yuriy Brovchenko to the agency «Interfax-Ukraine».

Secrecy does not allow us to find out what the Ministry of Defense will spend 1,4 billion on, that was allocated for ammunition plant. However, «Ukrainian Pravda» tried to get at least some information from persons engaged to this process.

«We are talking, first of all, about building a plant for production of middle caliber ammunition. We will be the contractor (Ministry of Defense – UP). «Ukroboronprom» can become one of the procurers of equipment, or the one that will take part in building the plant. We can engage them as a subcontractor to perform some works. We are now studying who can do this better», – said Stepan Poltorak to UP.

On 4 October during the meeting of a parliamentary committee on national security and defense the author tried to talk to the deputy minister of defense Ihor Pavlovskiy, who on 13 October was detained by NABU detectives because of charges in fraud operations with procurement of fuel for the ministry. At first, he was ignoring all questions regarding the construction of ammunition plant. But later did tell something.

– How is it going with plant construction?

– It is now in the project stage, – answered Pavlovskiy.

– And who is preparing the project? 

– At the stage of a project design and selection of implementer.

– And how many applications are there from potential implementers?

– Do you understand what kind of the process this is? – after this question from Pavlovskiy conversation came down to a lecture on construction of a plant without any specifics.

Member of parliament from People’s Front Dmytro Tymchuk thinks that the Ministry of Defense will spend 1,4 billion to prepare construction documents and first line of works.

The author was informed in «Ukroboronprom» that the Ministry of Defense plans to do only final precision of ammunition on its capacities. And, for example, powder and detonators will be produced on Shostka Plant “Zirka” that is part of the state association.

And it seems that the Ministry of Defense was engaged to the process because of the fact that the establishment offered the fastest way of plant construction. Military can make it on one of its bases for ammunition storage.

And, it seems like «People’s Front» does not support this.

 

On 4 October Serhiy Pashinskiy assured UP that the Ministry of Defense does nothing in terms of ammunition plant construction.

«There was a session in the Cabinet of Ministers, there were many discussions, as of now this situation is not solved. Moreover, I believe that production of ammunition when we cannot store it properly is nonsense. Let’s say we manufacture something, we’ll bring it to another Kalynivka, and it will explode. Why? ” – Pashynskiy was outraged by such a plan.

President’s team does not pay attention to such kind of criticism. One of the representatives of Poroshenko’s team said, that next year Ministry of Defense will again receive another 1,4 billion UAH from the state budget to build a plant.

Representative of a foreign company that would like to enter the Ukrainian market of ammunition, in a conversation with UP generally accuses authorities.

“Due to lack of transparency of the process each of them tries to receive dividends for himself», – a foreigner with experience of talking to Ukrainian politicians shares his experience.  

He adds that if they were guided by national interests, the ammunition plant in Ukraine could have already been producing own products.

Oleksiy Bratushak, pravda.com.ua