KIEV, March 12 (RIA Novosti) – A new military structure, National Guard, to be set up in Ukraine soon, will incorporate protesters, who took part in violent rallies in Kiev earlier this year, a source in the country’s Cabinet of ministers said on Wednesday.
The creation of the National Guard is among measures under consideration to bolster defense capabilities, because the country’s armed forces demonstrated unsatisfactory combat readiness and low morale during snap checks last week, according to a defense ministry report.
On Tuesday, the country’s acting President Oleksandr Turchinov told the parliament that armed forces would have to be rebuilt "effectively from scratch" due to the previous leadership’s mismanagement.
Acting Defense Minister Ihor Tenyukh reported to the acting president earlier this week that only 6,000 people out of 41,000 currently serving in the armed forces “are prepared to perform combat tasks.” Only a small share of Ukrainian tanks, military planes, attack helicopters and navy warships are battle-ready, while their crews lack knowledge and training.
The Ukrainian armed forces came under close scrutiny following the deployment of troops without insignia, widely believed to be Russian military, in Ukraine’s majority ethnic Russian region of Crimea. The region’s parliament has earlier announced its intention to secede from Ukraine and become part of Russia.
The Cabinet source said the incumbent government needed a loyal armed unit, ready to perform any military task.
According to the source, the new 20,000-strong National Guard, whose numbers are likely to be revised upward later, would include “military units that are loyal to the new regime and self-defense units from the Independence Square.”
Officials from the former Ukrainian government have said on numerous occasions that radical groups and foreign mercenaries were the main driving force behind the uprising in Ukraine, sparked late last year by deposed President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to ditch European integration plans.
The source also said that Ukraine’s new government ruled to hold an “urgent secret lustration” in the armed forces and hire anyone “who shows any degree of disloyalty to the Ukrainian government.”
The defense ministry also studies the possibility of extending active duty terms for conscripts currently doing their military service and enlisting about 15,000 new recruits aged between 18 and 27.