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Questioning the feasibility of Indonesia-Ukraine defense cooperation
Author : Hendrajit, Geopolitical Analyst and Executive Director of the Global Future Institute (GFI)

The Indonesian government, especially the Ministry of Defence, should reconsider the proposal of Ukraine expecting Indonesia to buy BTR-4M  armoured fighting vehicles made in Ukraine. Revealed through the experience of Thailand and Croatia, the guality of both the T-84 Oplot and MiG-21 turned out to be very poor.

Some time ago, in August 2016, the Ambassador of Ukraine to Indonesia, olodymyr Pakhil accompanied by Deputy Director of Spetstechnoexport Vladyslav Belbas, came to the office of the Ministry of Defence, seeking to hold possible defense cooperation between Indonesia and Ukraine in addition to following up the meeting of President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko with President Joko Widodo few days earlier. In the meeting, the two heads of state signed a defense  cooperation. President Petro Poroshenko led the Ukrainian government cabinet visited Indonesia 5-7 August 2016.

The agreement will be focused on the areas of aerospace, military vehicles and defense electronics. Then, the raising question is that is it appropriate for Ukraine as the ex-Soviet Union country to become a strategic partner of Indonesia in the defence cooperation? Moreover, when the Ministry of Defence intended or considered buying military equipment or Main Equipment Weapons System (Alutsista) from Ukraine.

On account of the defense cooperation was focused on the areas of aerospace and military vehicles, there should be a thorough investigation and research about the capacity and credibility of Ukraine in the field.

Some time ago, in the first week of October, the Global Future Institute (GFI) held a roundtable discussion taking up various issues, especially in dealing with plans and strategic steps that should be conducted by the Ministry of Defence, in the purchase of Alutsista from other countries such as Western Europe, Eastern Europe and China.

Specifically related to Ukraine, following the President Jokowi's meeting with President of Ukraine early August, the participants came to a conclusion that holding military cooperation with Ukraine is not at all feasible and should not be acted upon to a more strategic level.

Why? Firstly, about the quality of military vehicles, such as tanks. One of the participants who experienced as a partner of the Ministry of Defence since the Suharto's regime to the Reform era had been researching a cooperation between Ukraine and Thailand. In the defense cooperation, Ukraine was obliged to supply 49 T-84 Oplot tanks. In fact, Ukraine was only able to supply as many as 10 ones. That means, in terms of other 39 remaining, Ukraine otherwise failed to meet its obligations. As a result, the Thai government decided to reject the participation of Ukraine in the tender of purchasing its military equipment.

The 39 T-84 Oplot tanks which remained an obligation of Ukraine to supply them, were eventually replaced by the ones made in the United States that are already old and poor quality. So that the Thai government was not satisfied with the use of 200 GIR 3EI for having no good quality.

So, what about the fighter jet, such as MiG-21? The roundtable discussion concluded that Ukraine had ever exported MIG-21 to Croatia, so it's still in the Eastern European region as well. Interestingly, in March 2016, the military police of Croatia found cases of corruption related to the repairs of the aircraft exported from Ukraine that were purchased in 2015. The interesting fact was revealed, of the 12 aircraft purchased from Croatia, 9 of them were damaged. In other words, there were only three relatively considered good.

Through the results of investigations and prosecutions carried out by the Croatian Military Police, 5 of the 12 fighters purchased by Croatia from Ukraine had once belonged to Yemen. Even the fighters were the result of assemblies of other countries such as Bulgaria. In fact, Bulgaria was likely reported to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that MiG-21 is basically not worth. Even more surprising, in terms of the fighters sold by Ukraine to Croatia, its memorandum of registration was fake.

Apparently, the economic crisis in Ukraine, as well as the termination of Ukrainian-Russian cooperation in the field of military industry, have in turn destroyed the quality of Ukrainian industry.

In connection with some of the findings of a roundtable discussion at the Jakarta-based Global Future Institute (GFI), despite the need for more in-depth research and study, apparently it is reasonable for us to urge the Indonesian Government, especially the Ministry of Defence, to stop the continuation of defense cooperation with Ukraine. Including, rejecting the proposal of President of Ukraine expecting Indonesia to buy BTR-4M  armoured fighting vehicles.

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