On Sunday, Ukraine celebrates the Day of its naval forces. On the eve of this holiday “Duma” met with the newly appointed commander of the Ukrainian Navy rear Admiral Alexei Neipamei. He kindly carved out two hours from your busy schedule and answered all questions about his swing and frames, the transition to NATO standards, and gain on unfinished ships, housing for sailors and their families.
The rear Admiral was impressed with the man’s collected and thoughtful, tried to keep it short and to the point, instead, the phrase “naval forces” often spoke simply “we”. In General, the conversation turned interesting.
“Duma”: is it True that your Deputy can become the head of the 198-th training center captain of the first rank Shahen of Siologen? How true all that is on it “dug” journalists and bloggers?
Alex Neiipp: Rivoltana not all smooth, but I want to reassure everyone — no Deputy was not appointed and does not appoint. Already have the order of the Minister of defence of Ukraine. Deputy commander of the Navy was appointed captain of the first rank Alexey Moscato. From the beginning it was a war between Rivoltana and some of his subordinates. Yes, the military have criminal cases, some of which are linked with economic activity. Now there is full control of the Prosecutor’s office, the RRT, the courts — all the problems, not hiding them, carry out appropriate audits and inspections. Law enforcement officers must give the appropriate rating.
— That is Sagvolden not be your Deputy?
— First, he has no proper education and appropriate service — he was not a sailor. The Deputy commander may be the person who has a Maritime education and Maritime training. Sagvolden — head of the training centre, who is engaged in individual preparation. Perhaps next he will take some positions, we rotated every four to five years. But for the post of Deputy it no one had never considered. Question about it was never.
— In the press once reported about granting Ukraine the American frigates of the Oliver Hazard Perry, but after more than a year of state. It is still a relevant topic?
Frigate Oliver Hazard Perry — a ship forwarding fleet to escort convoys, searching for submarines in the ocean. It was developed in the 70-ies of the last century. Yes, this is the most common type of American frigates built after the Second world war. However, this is a very old ships. It systems are outdated. With them, even when they served in the US Navy removed the missiles, was only used by artillery systems. Of the current fleet, they were removed in 2015, and five years in reserve as obsolete.
The second, as they are designed for ocean waves, they have the corresponding dimensions. These vehicles are much more “Hetman Sahaidachny” in displacement, length. And here arises the question of basing of the frigates. Now we just have nowhere to place them.
And third, the most basic is the maintenance of their technical readiness. The restoration and operation of these ships will cost more than buying corvettes.
Simple example: you come to the disassembly of the car, and there is “Volkswagen” 30 years ago. Yes, he even included — it’s all there, but it has been there for many years. What do you think is better to buy it or any five-year car? Of course, something more new on this car you will feel more confident than thirty years Volkswagen. So with these frigates as well.
— According to media reports, the Ukrainian Navy ceased to order new armoured boats “Gyurza-M”? Why?
— Seventh “Gyurza” is now being tested — I think that next month we will include in the composition of the naval forces. Until the end of the year will be completed one unit — the eighth. We leave them eight is the number that we need.
— Whether to buy specialised anti-mine ships, minesweepers?
Is one of the three priorities that we set for the Navy, because of mine danger in the Black sea is an enormous threat. The probability that in the areas near Odessa, South of the Black sea can appear enemy mines, will stop all shipping in the region. And this is after all, more than 7% of GDP. Naturally, responsibility for mine safety rests with the Navy — that we should provide it. Therefore, the purchase of a new anti-mine systems and mine countermeasures ships — it is a harsh necessity. All of this is embedded in the tasks and development strategy of the Navy and is one of the development priorities.
Here and there clinging to the question of the future anti-ship missile complex “Neptune”, the testing of which was completed recently and proved to be successful. There is information that now they even have a state order. What’s next?
— I am the Chairman of the selection Committee, he personally supervised the launch and know this complex very well (smiles). It is a good complex. This is a breakthrough in rocket science of Ukraine. There are not many countries that can not afford a vicious cycle the production of such missile systems. By the end of next month we should be fully prepare a set of documents for testing “Neptune”. The results of this work will be taken the purchase decision in the divisional set with the time of delivery in 2021. There is direction in the state defense order is there such an article, but no financial resources. But the financial resources will be redistributed this year. This project supports the President and the leadership of the defense Ministry.
— The question of the unfinished warships. Many are interested in the future of the cruiser “Ukraine” and the Corvette “Vladimir the Great”.
— The cruiser “Ukraine” decided that it will not be part of the naval forces is the ocean the ship of the old Soviet project. All weapon systems which it stood, — all of them of Russian production. The cruiser is a big target, and no more. So he went to sea, you need a huge number of other ships, aircraft, you need the appropriate software. He spends as much fuel that will last probably several areas. It is very energy intensive. This ship was conceived as the “aircraft carrier killer”, his role in the 80-ies of the last century was the destruction of the carrier strike groups of the United States. We have such problems there, so to use it we can not. We need to destroy the Russian ships, and they have such carriers yet. Their only aircraft — carrying ship “Admiral Kuznetsov” — is being repaired, which threatens to become eternal. In General, the aircraft carriers from Russia, so “the killer of aircraft carriers” Ukraine does not need.
But the Corvette is different. All of our partners in the black sea region, including Bulgaria and Romania, deploy programs to corvettes. This year they will lay from four such ships. But in these countries the territorial sea is several times less than we do even now, in terms of the seizure of the Russian Federation of the Crimea.
It’s a versatile class that can perform the tasks in the Black sea, it has the appropriate air defence system and powerful electronic warfare systems is what makes it protected from the impact of fire of the enemy from the air. On small ships, such complexes cannot be delivered physically will not fit (this seems to be a dig at supporters of the concept of the “mosquito fleet”, which propose to focus on the construction of boats — approx. ed.).
Cost our Corvette out one and a half times cheaper than the same unit of our partners. On him the state has already spent half a billion hryvnia — of course, throw this money it is impossible: no one will understand us. A part of this project has been developed, manufactured and will be delivered on the Corvette, and the “Hetman Sagaidachny”, the modernization of which will be implemented this year. The Corvette we are planning to launch in 2023.
In parallel, we continue the design phase complexes “Neptun” for the production of offshore platforms. Naturally, the “Neptune” and go to the Corvette — we will have a full set of missiles that will be based both on naval platforms and shore, and aviation platforms too.
About the Azov sea
— Are there any new transitions from Odessa and Ochakov in the sea of Azov? Tell us what the Navy was going to do in this region.
— Said many times and will say it again: the Azov sea is not a pool of the Russian Federation. If they think they will behave, as I used to — they will not work. This year we will increase the number of units in the sea of Azov. We must receive from US the most modern boats of the type Mark VI — only 16 units. Of course, some of them are bound to be in the sea of Azov. Missile systems on Board — more effective for this region.
Boats Mark VI is a universal platform, it is possible to set the weapons and equipment in several areas ranging from the functions of the patrols to sabotage the landing forces near the coast of the enemy, equipment for search and destruction of mines, missiles short range to destroy the enemy. Mark VI have of their information system — all boats of this type are in the same information space and transmit the data online. Now the most important thing is to be able to use them professionally.
It should be noted that States they were only for themselves, and, except Ukraine, they still nobody even offered — it happened because we developed a strategy and set goals — how to gradually develop the Ukrainian Navy. It happened thanks to the coordinated work of the previous command, the Navy, and Igor Alexandrovich (Voronchenko — approx. edition) including. At first, our foreign partners do not understand what we want and how we intend to achieve. And when was formed the strategy, objectives and priorities, our Western partners have decided how to help us. All painted in stages over the years and in the near future should be taken at the legislative level of Ukraine, according to our national standards.
— Russia we really wanted to drive to the shore, to deprive the sea and to declare the black sea-Azov region is completely his own.
— If they wanted to do it — would do it in 2014. Russia is waiting for the moment of confrontation. Of course, when the next stage of aggression on their part, they want to do it immediately — it’s been six years, but really serious steps on the sea they held. While we strengthened our defenses — reinforced component of the marine corps, strengthened coastal security. Now, thank God, the vector has changed — we are now strengthening the sea. The President and the Minister of defense gave the Navy a carte Blanche to develop the project of construction of new field-based fleet — we can only be in the small harbour in Odessa and in the small harbour in Ochakovo. In order to have a strong Navy, we must have appropriate infrastructure, we need a place where to put our ships. The life cycle of a warship is about 25 years: it is necessary to maintain, repair, maintain. Now decisions are made, transferred land on the shores of the Black and Azov seas to create decent bases. The attention of the state is now on the Navy’s big — we will sea from Ukraine, and without the sea there will be Ukraine. Understanding leadership there is a positive, and we will make maximum use for the benefit of the naval forces.
— So you want to say that from the stage of survival, the Navy moves to the development stage?
— Yes, of course. Previous commanders of the Navy carried out a great preparatory work. After leaving the Crimea we had a little over two thousand and now over ten thousand. Our Marines, we must pay tribute to the command of the Marines — they do their job and do it successfully. We now have a good offshore component. In 2014, it’s almost not there. In equipment, in spirit, in training we are a lot stronger than it was in the Crimea, — well, of course that was not then war. Now my goal is to make the main impact we could make on the shore and the sea. We must make sure that the enemy was at the beach, knowing that we are strong. To do so, so we were not expecting when it will come to us.
On the return of the Crimea
Admiral Ihor Voronchenko has always declared that we will return the Crimea and it will be in our lifetime. What do you think?
— The main base of naval forces of Ukraine is Sevastopol. I have this idea, the principle and the message of never give up. If you look in my waiting room hang pictures of ships — there are written “Sevastopol”. I specifically posted that everyone understand that the main base of the Ukrainian Navy is Sebastopol. There I served all my ship’s life. We’ll be back.
— How can we develop our confrontation with Russia. You are a warlord you fought in the East of Ukraine, which you now expect from the Russians?
— We are preparing for full-scale military confrontation, knowing that if it happens, then unfortunately it will be many casualties and our soldiers and civilians. Many now do not understand — although the seventh year is a war.
— So you’re considering the option, in which Russian troops will try to break out of the Crimea on the South of Kherson region, to give the opportunity to let the water from the Dnieper North-Crimean canal?
— I do not exclude such actions from the Russian Empire. We’re getting ready. All I can not tell, but here’s a little fact. The range of the missile complex “Neptun” allows it to be used with the mainland Ukraine on the approaches to Sevastopol. Over there and see.
— Maybe it will be associated with the aggravation of the situation in the Donbass, because now there is relative calm…
— I wouldn’t say that. If you compare 2014-16 will be presented with years now there is trench warfare, unfortunately. Our units are prepared not only to trench warfare, but also for offensive action — the work units in urban areas, for performing tasks and fighting not only in defence, to maneuver actions. Putin will never give us voluntarily Donbass according to the Minsk agreements, unfortunately. Only forced if the current economic and geopolitical situation.
Once we understand that in the Crimea will begin to recover the channel, there will be to join a financial resource of the Russian Empire (Yes, I call them so: this Empire with a dictator at the head), then it will be a good signal that Russia is preparing a full-scale confrontation. And then we have to answer the calls.
About reforms in the Navy and cooperation with NATO
— Whether to reform land component of the Navy — artillery, tanks? Some believe that they have too much will reduce?
— There is a specific kit that is needed to solve the corresponding problems. If they are changed, then the component will change.
— A horror story about the decline of the Armed forces? It is, indeed, happening?
— There is a law about the size of the Armed forces of Ukraine — according to him everything works. Under this number and allocated financial resources. The army contains on taxes, she earns money as some law enforcement officers who collect taxes and fines. Army — only expenditure item in the budget. The number of aircraft determines the law. Now the user Minoborony leads the Armed forces to the law. If you want to acquire parity with Russia, then we have the Armed forces should be more than a million — but it’s impossible. We will have 250 thousand or 500 — still the army of the Russian Federation will be more this [on set of parameters] second army in the world. So we need to take to be prepared and well-armed with the latest technology personnel. Ukrainian armed forces must be high-tech and prepared. That’s all.
— Tell about cooperation with Western partners. What are the trends and challenges?
— At first we had just a conversation to develop understanding of where we are going next. It was the information at the conceptual level. This stage has already passed — the advice. In the Ukrainian Navy sample 2020 introduced a management system proposed by NATO standards, the Armed forces have already switched to these standards. The exchange of opinions and organization of interaction between authorities continues, but actually we are already working on how our Western partners.
One of the main priorities of our cooperation material-technical equipment of the army, it’s understandable. This is especially true of shipbuilding. I pay attention to anti-mine ships, because Ukraine does not have relevant industrial and scientific capacity to build such ships. We have never done this and will not be able to implement it quickly. So this issue I give the most attention. On — supply of ships and boats that can fill the niche that is now so essential to us is the coastal zone, the near zone. We must now quickly fill this niche and proceed to the next stage — work near the shore of the enemy: it is the goal that we set for ourselves. Our partners will participate in this stage.
The third area is training. The ship can be built in two to three years, even larger. But the commander of the ship to prepare — you need ten years. The commander of the ship, ready to sail, to use his weapons and be completely compatible with the commanders of the ships of our partners in the sea — this is the task that we set for ourselves. Sailor, at a minimum, it is necessary to prepare the year-petty officer — minimum of three years, and the commander ten. This is a long time. And training — the direction that we would like to continue with our partners. Our students will continue to study in educational institutions of NATO countries: in Italy, in the UK, I think, be added the United States, now with the coronavirus is a bit problematic, but I think that will be implemented. This training program ORBITAL — yesterday we met with their British colleagues and identified some areas for improvement of our work. Well, this training had already moved from the exclusive focus on the marine coastal component.
Then — naturally, it exercises Sea Breeze as one of the main instruments of transfer of the Navy to NATO standards. Five times I was the leader of these exercises from the Ukrainian side. I want to say that we are making progress and very strong. If you remember the teachings of 2014, immediately after the annexation of Crimea, which we spent at sea, before entering the city, compared to the previous year 2019 — this is serious progress. We were taught not just the ships, tactical teams and coached some of the episodes — there were fully formed everything from the control system — from the government, which supervised exercise… And sea captains speak the same language, share the same conceptual apparatus — that’s what we will continue to improve.
Housing for military personnel and the elimination of KECH
— A question on housing is acute — a leave from the army simply because they have nowhere to live. How to solve this issue?
— The question is correct. No the military will not surrender to the service, if he has no reliable back — your home, where you want to return. We intend to do everything we can to resolve the issue of housing. This year in Odessa, was allocated 18 apartments for officers. Now the task is to increase this figure at least twice, and up to the end of the year, I think, will be even up to fifty apartments for the military who came from the Crimea. This work will not stop — we will continue to ensure that the officers, petty officers, sailors were with their housing.
As for Nikolaev, but this year we passed for the 10th marine aviation brigade of 44 apartments on Chaykovskogo is a full-time job housing for our pilots. Also have been allocated an apartment for the marine corps. This year will open two hostels in the Country (point of a constant dislocation 35-th separate brigade of Marines — approx. ed.) and one in Nikolaev for naval aviation. In addition, until the end of 2020 in the Country will be completed barracks superior accommodation for contractors is the crew up to five people with its shower and toilet. Just yesterday I was there and spoke to the foreman — we are trying to make it look decent and people were nice to be there, returning from combat missions.
In the future expect 80-apartment house in Odessa in the 217th military town on the Fountain (ship building — approx. ed.) that was supposed to pass in 2016. This year, I hope it’ll be done is for the officers of command headquarters.
Not to say that all this will close the housing needs for the personnel of the Navy, but we really do our best.
— Since we are already talking about the Fountain, how soon will the reconstruction of buildings of the former Institute of land forces on the 6th station where you plan to place the headquarters of the Ukrainian Navy and the Institute. Work is proceeding very slowly, if at all, underway.
— By the decision of the defence Ministry, in order to get away from all the obscure non-transparent schemes, now is the restructuring of kvartirno-operational parts throughout Ukraine — some powers will be transferred to the unit, which reports to the General headquarters of the authority will give the commander of the troops, who are more interested in the implementation of all programs — we need to give housing to people quickly and efficiently.
The restructuring aims to remove all unnecessary circuits, because, unfortunately, worked not for the result but on the process. For us, the military, the desired result — built housing. This perspective kvartirno-operational parts, which was decades in the armed forces — more, perhaps, from the Soviet Union. KECH was need a process to get something built and on it went funding, and the end result for those who built, were not important — they did not live there, did not serve. Now the question is different- now we will build for ourselves and to be responsible for it.
And when this restructuring starts KECH? It turns out that the officers who are there to remain without work?
— It starts in the next month. Yes, many of them remain without work, especially those who, to put it mildly, was not configured on the result — I would have appreciated their actions.
Recently, in cooperation with the Russian Federation was charged with two servicemen of the naval forces of Ukraine — head of the Institute of the naval forces of the Odessa Maritime Academy, captain first rank Petr Goncharenko, commander of the ship “Alexander Okhrimenko” captain second rank Anatoly Lyulko. At the same time the suspicion they are not reported, and it looks pretty strange. What happened and what will happen next?
— I’ll tell you how I feel about this. Twenty years the situation with Russia and everything to do with her and the events in the Crimea, for me, has two colors: white is Ukrainian, and black is Russian. Gray I do not perceive. I mean you can’t be like the Ukrainians and say: “Yes, we went out,” and at the same time to maintain relations with the power that is there now. For me this is unacceptable and was not acceptable ever. I personally left the Crimea on 10 April 2014 with his family — was put in the car wife, kids, and chief of communications of the Navy, by the way. With all the belongings we left. I did General Revelers (head of the Military Academy major General Oleg Revelers — approx. ed.) — placed things, we are still good friends, he’s the only person I knew in Odessa. I went to the Crimea after that and didn’t let his wife — even to the funeral of her father in 2015.
— That is you have a Russian passport will not find?
— One million percent guarantee you that (laughs). I see it as that. Hard. Anyway, I’m not calling the FSB. There are some former soldiers, who is there left to all the events of 14 years and remained in the Crimea, they are trying to restore contact, but I don’t answer. I don’t know who is behind them and who writes this, because the FSB can be pushed to betray even a good man. I treat this just like that.
During that time, my officers and the Russian passport of one of them — of course, I understand that many have left there homes, values, family, — but I can’t understand how the officer of Armed forces of Ukraine can be a passport of a country with which we are fighting. I treat this categorically — I will go to the Crimea only when there will be our blue and yellow flag. All. Point.
— What about these officers?
— Goncharenko handed over power to the interim head of the Institute — today I am waiting for the report. Will be a competition for the new head of the Institute of the Navy. Lyulko removed from office during the investigation, it is not on the ship. It is unacceptable to me that my officer has a Russian passport.
Personal: career advice, family, the Crimea and the Prince of Kiev
— And, probably, last question — why did you choose such a fate — to be a military sailor?
— I was born in Sevastopol and there my children were born. My dad was a marine and a doctor, and my grandfather was a doctor and uncle was also a doctor — at us naval medical dynasty. I also thought to be a military doctor, but for this it was necessary to go to study in Russia, and we have Ukrainian family roots in the Vinnytsia region, the name of the Zaporizhian Sich. Where I am and where Russia? I am Ukrainian. When Ukraine became independent, arrived in Sevastopol in the Academy, he graduated and became a marine.
— Tell us how you went from the Crimea in 2014. I know the Russians then actively treated our military and especially the family.
The Russians, indeed, had carried out serious, well-prepared operation — were talking with wives, and with parents, to convince to stay. But I have all my life lived in independent Ukraine, not a day served either in Soviet or in the Russian army — was a student in a Ukrainian University, an officer of the Ukrainian Navy. I was born in Ukraine, serve Ukraine — for me, no dilemma did not exist.
— You tried to accuse almost the surrender of the Ukrainian Navy Academy…
Yeah, I was the acting head of the naval Academy. At the time of the seizure of the Peninsula on 23 February I was in Kiev at school (National University of defense of Ukraine — approx. ed.) — I had a session, and on March 1 returned to almost already seized Crimea, forced his way through the cordon was already Russian paratroopers, it was occupied. Arrived at the Academy — it was just that day, when rear Admiral Berezovsky (then the commander of the Ukrainian Navy, a traitor, approx. ed.) swore invaders. When I saw it on TV, you almost cried: this was a strong shock and impact the person had served and betrayed them. On the same day at the Academy I was welcomed by the FSB and asked: whom should I obey or Berezovsky was appointed commander of the Ukrainian Navy Sergiy Gayduk? I said, “the Issue is not considered. Better answer me two questions”. He says “Let us”. I continue: “you called my nuclear submarine “Yury Dolgoruky”. Who was Yuri Dolgoruky?” He says: “the Founder of Moscow. Prince.” I said, “Well, Yes, Moscow. And the Prince whose?” He could not understand. I said: “the Prince of Kiev. He was buried in Kiev.” Then he silently turned and more I have never seen.
— That is, he sustained only one question from you?
— Yes (laughs). More offers to go on the Russian side I have not received. Not recruited. It was misunderstanding of my position from family wife, even though she supported me as soon as I said that we go to the mainland: “If you’re coming, get ready, and if you want to stay, then stay, but for you I will not return.” She said, “No, I’m not gonna stay going” — so we went. Just there was no other way.