German Petelin, Alexander Raskin
June 4, 2014 Wednesday


One day of military operation of Ukrainian security agencies in the east of the country costs about $3 million. According to experts, Kiev already spent more than $147 million on suppression of militiamen in total. This is almost a half of one-year budget of Donetsk. Military analysts say that if Ukrainian security agencies keep using heaving armament and aviation the overall costs of the war taking into account destroyed buildings and infrastructure will grow by hundreds of percent.

The so-called antiterrorist operation was announced by the Kiev authorities on April 15 of 2014.

According to experts, the 95th, 79th and 25th airmobile brigades, the 24th, 51st and 30th separate mechanized infantry brigades, as well as units of the national guard (former interior forces of the Interior Ministry of Ukraine and volunteers) participate in operations against militiamen of Donetsk and Lugansk regions. Fighters of so-called volunteer special battalions Donbass, Dnepr-1, Dnepr-2 and Azov that are sponsored by Ukrainian oligarchs participate in suppression of militiamen together with the armed forces.

Amount of $22 million for food

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, at the end of April the overall strength of the group of Ukrainian forces concentrated in the southeast of the country amounted to 11,000 people. It was armed with 160 tanks, more than 230 armored personnel carriers and not less than 150 artillery systems, as well as aviation.

However, experts presume that the quantity of fighters used in the antiterrorist operation may be much bigger. For example, Defense Minister of Donetsk People’s Republic Igor Strelkov announced that about 20,000 people were used in the antiterrorist operation including 5,000 people near Slavyansk alone. Ukrainian military expert Vyacheslav Tseluiko presumes that the quantity of servicemen used in the operations may exceed this amount.

Tseluiko explains:

– The reason is that there are no clear borders of the territory where the antiterrorist operation is announced. Simultaneously with combat operations there strengthening of positions on the Russian-Ukrainian border going on. Troops are being concentrated there too. The overall strength of the group may exceed 25,000 people.

According to a source in the Defense Ministry, daily allowance of a Ukrainian private who participates in the antiterrorist operation amounts to 30 hrivnas or $2.5 and that of an officer amounts to 100 hrivnas or $8.3. It turns out that mere presence of Ukrainian servicemen in the zone of hostilities costs Kiev not less than 600,000 hrivnas or $50,000 per day. This means that for 45 days of the antiterrorist operation offices and privates of the Ukrainian army, 20,000 of them being in the southeast, should be paid $2.25 million of travel allowances.

Along with this, these amounts do not include nutrition (one-day food ration costs about 50 hrivnas or $4.1) and monthly money allowances of servicemen. On average, Ukrainian servicemen – contract servicemen and officers – earn about 2,400 hrivnas or $200 per month. It turns out that $3.6 million should be allocated for nutrition of servicemen who participate in the antiterrorist operation and $6 million should be allocated for salaries.

So, maintenance of servicemen in the conflict zone alone already cost Ukrainian authorities $11.9 million.

At the very start of the military operation it turned out that regular Ukrainian army lacked money even for purchase of bulletproof jackets. As a result, collection of money for the armed forces was announced on Maidan. Videos with calls to help Ukrainian army were broadcasted on television when events in Crimea were in full swing. Judging by them, authorities lacked money for airplanes, armored vehicles and even uniforms. Advertising has worked: according to the government of Ukraine, compatriots collected 122 million hrivnas or $10.1 million for military needs.

Tseluiko says:

– It is simply impossible to calculate how this money has been spent and how much of this amount has been spent on nutrition and how much was spent on necessary hardware.

Sponsored by oligarchs

Vitaly Tsymbal, head of the laboratory of military economy of the institute of economy in transition, reminds that besides regular troops so-called private armies of billionaires Kolomoisky and Akhmetov and servicemen of private military companies from Europe and America participate in the conflict too.

The expert explains:

– Unlike servicemen of regular troops, "soldiers of fortune" not only earn more but are also equipped better.

The main sponsor of so-called volunteer regiments is owner of Private bank and Governor of Dnepropetrovsk Region Igor Kolomoisky. Two battalions Dnepr-1 and Dnepr-2 and two battalions of territorial defense were formed with his direct participation in the region. The overall strength of these armed forces amounts to about 3,000 people.

These battalions are formally subordinated to the Interior Ministry and fighter together with units of the national guard, their backbone consisting of fighters of Right Sector.

Representatives of Donetsk People’s Republic say:

– In reality, these units are fully autonomous. Their fighters do not spare anyone and do real atrocities. These are fighters of Kolomoisky who burn administrative buildings together with protesters in towns of Donetsk Region. They also force inexperienced servicemen of the Ukrainian army who refuse to fight against their own people to fight threatening them with execution.

For their dirty work "private servicemen" receive salaries decent according to Ukrainian standards, namely about 500 hrivnas or $40 per day. For example, a qualified doctor earns about 100 hrivnas or $8.3 per day in Ukraine.

In an interview to mass media Kolomoisky has confessed that he allocates more than $10 million for salaries of his fighters alone. Thus, in 1.5 month the oligarch already spent $15 million. Ukrainian Forbes estimates the wealth of Kolomoisky at $3.6 billion.

According to Donetsk People’s Republic, besides the local "soldiers of fortune" 250 foreign mercenaries participate in the antiterrorist operation too.

Leader of militia Igor Strelkov has announced frequently:

– Karachun (mountain near Slavyansk) is guarded by a Polish private military company.

According to Donetsk People’s Republic, not only the poles but also private military companies from the US fight against the southeast but they have absolutely different salaries.

According to Tsymbal, mercenaries always earn more than soldiers of a regular army.

– For example, servicemen of the Foreign Legion have salary 50% bigger than that of soldiers of the regular army of France and salary of an employee of a private military company who works in Iraq is 30% bigger than salary of an American soldier being there.

According to him, there are no official norms of salaries of mercenaries. As a rule, salary depends on living standards of the region in which mercenaries perform their operations. According to experts, salary of a foreign mercenary in the southeast of Ukraine starts from $10,000.

Representatives of Donetsk People’s Republic say that militiamen do not receive any money. According to Defense Minister of Donetsk People’s Republic Igor Strelkov, this is a very serious problem because despite that militiamen are fed, clothes and supplied with weapons and ammunition by local residents their families stay home without money.

In Lugansk People’s Republic its leader Valery Bolotov issued an order this weak according to which heads of enterprises were obliged to preserve jobs for militiamen at which they had worked before the beginning of hostilities and to pay full salaries to them. Non-fulfillment of the order will be viewed as sabotage and treason. According to data of autumn of 2013, an average salary in Lugansk Region amounted to 3,345 hrivnas or $278. According to Ukrainian servicemen, 3,000-5,000 people fight on the side of militia. The same figures are voiced by leaders of Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics.

Soviet heritage

However, maintenance of fighters constitutes only a small part of the military expenses. Armament and ammunition account for the main expenses. According to director of the Center of Strategic and Defense Technologies Ruslan Pukhov, both parties of the conflict in the southeast of Ukraine use mostly the weapons made at the end of the 1980s.

Pukhov explains:

– There are two methods of calculation. First, this is calculation according to the book value of ammunition from the initial purchasing price. Along with this, Ukraine did not pay a single kopek for this hardware because it inherited it from the USSR for free.

According to the expert, on the contrary, the second method takes into account the price of a projectile now.

Pukhov says:

– Any spent projectile should be replaced either with the same new one or with a more modern and hence more expensive counterpart.

For instance, costs of Mi-8 helicopters that are used by the air force of Ukraine may vary from $200,000 to $5 million depending on the wear. Militia managed to down four such helicopters. Proceeding from the second method of calculation (it is necessary to replace the downed helicopters with new ones) the costs of loss of four such helicopters will amount to about $20 million.

Militiamen also managed to down three attack helicopters Mi-24. Costs of modern modifications of such helicopters vary from $20 million to $22 million.

Ukrainian military analyst Potseluiko states that there are several reserve helicopters for every helicopter that participates in the antiterrorist operation.

One hour of helicopter flight costs $800 on average. According to Donetsk People’s Republic, 20 helicopters participate in the antiterrorist operation. They already burnt fuel worth not less than $360,000.

During the armed clashes in Donetsk on May 26 Ukraine also lifted attack aviation to the air. One hour of light of an attack airplane (there were three such airplanes in the sky above Donetsk) costs $5,000. Witnesses said that the fighters flew for around an hour bombarding militiamen in the airport with rockets.

During the hostilities and preparation for them Ukrainian army also lost more than 30 armored vehicles from armored personnel carriers to T-64 tanks (battles near Slavyansk, in Volnovakha District, Rubezhny etc). One modernized T-64 tank costs $1.5 million, one combat infantry vehicle or armored personnel carrier costs from $800 to $1.5 million. According to experts, the overall expenses on fuel for armored vehicles and automobiles during the period of the antiterrorist operation are comparable to expenses on fuel for helicopters and exceed $350,000.

Proceeding from current prices on the international armament market, one artillery projectile costs about $150, 1,000 cartridges for an automatic rifle costs $30, a grenade costs $8, prices of mortar shells start from $10. For attacking of positions and checkpoints of militiamen Ukrainian army uses mortars, artillery and automatic small arms.

One of militiamen of Donetsk People’s Republic said:

– Near Slavyansk where our positions are located bombardment begins at 8 in the afternoon and lasts until dawn. They fire at us for five to six hours without interruption. In such regime we have lived for almost a month.

According to the fighter, in an hour Ukrainians fire approximately 25 mortar shells and 10-15 projectiles of D-30 guns. Thus, it turns out that a night artillery bombardment only at one location near Slavyansk costs Ukrainian military $10,000-15,000.

Militiamen fight mostly with trophy weapons taken from arsenals of the Security Service and Interior Ministry of Ukraine. They are armed with obsolete models of AK-47 and AKM-74, Simonov self-loading carbines and Kalashnikov machine guns. Militiamen also managed to capture several combat infantry vehicles of various modifications.

The pride of militiamen is self-propelled artillery mount Nona-S taken in battle that fires projectiles and mortar shell. Militiaman Babay from Krasnodar Territory who became a hero of YouTube requested sending of "a couple of guns to burn enemies at a distance" in his addresses to President Putin. According to experts, it is difficult to estimate expenses of militiamen on armament because they fight with what they obtain in battle.

If all expenses on maintenance of fighters of Ukrainian army and national guard are calculated, as well as material and technical maintenance of the hardware and its losses, it will turn out that 45 days of the antiterrorist operation have cost Ukraine 1.7 billion hrivnas or $147 million. These calculations did not take into account expenses on medications for treatment of the wounded, insurance payments to the killed, as well as costs of buildings destroyed during the punitive operation.

According to leading expert of the Center of Current Policy Studies Dmitry Abzalov, if the confrontation in the southeast of Ukraine continues the country will lose tens of billions of dollars per month.

Abzalov say:

– One week of downtime of one metallurgical plant in Donetsk Region will cost tens of millions of dollars and if the army starts serious combat operations with use of heavy artillery and aviation the damage incurred on the infrastructure of the region will be counted in hundreds of billions of dollars.

Source: Izvestia, June 02, 2014, p. 1


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