Acting chief of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Lieutenant General Mykola Palchuk told a 4 February 2002 briefing to the press in Kiev that the Armed Forces' two Tank Divisions will be replaced by three Tank Brigade next year. From the soldiers and tanks of the two existing divisions, brigades will be stood up in Novohrad-Volynsky, Kryvyi Rig and Honcharivsk.
This is due in part to the current draft of Ukraine's military doctrine, which does not provide for conducting combat actions along the Ukraine's entire border (unlike the previous doctrine of 1993). Palchuk noted that 360 degree national defense was impossible and inexpedient, both from the economic point of view and in terms of defense sufficiency. Instead, the armed forces would show "maximum accuracy in repelling an aggression".
The briefing covered the development of Ukraine's armed forces in 2001 and their principal tasks for 2002. By 2005, Ukraine would form special operations forces within the front-line defense forces, which were expected to be about 50,000-strong and also create combined rapid reaction forces (numbering up to 40,000 men).
Palchuk said that there was "no need for divisions, which were designed for large-scale warfare. They are becoming obsolete and are being replaced by brigades that are more universal, mobile, autonomous and multipurpose".
This is all part of the Ukrainian military's "reform", since "reduction" appears to be a dirty word in Kiev circles. The Ukraine currently has 182 T-55, one T-62, 2,216 T-64, 1,305 T-72 and 322 T-80 - which is more than they can handle. According to the Flank Agreement to the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty (29 April 1997), the Ukraine is allowed 680 battle tanks (with sub-limits on active and stored equipment) in the flank area and 400 tanks in the Odessa oblast (which was removed from the flank zone).
In 1992, the Ukraine had 6,300 tanks (2,700 T-54/-55, 2,100 T-64, 1,000 T-72, 300 T-80, 200 T-62 Main Battle Tanks and 180 PT-76s). Between demilitarization and foreign sales, this number was trimmed down somewhat. By 1997, there were only 4080 tanks.
Meanwhile, not all of the foreign sales were clean ones. By January 2002, the Ukrainian Parliament is investigating whether Ukrainian-Israeli tycoon Vadym Rabinovich took part in the 1995 deliveries of between 150 and 200 T-55 and T-62 tanks with the aid of Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency. - Adam Geibel