(From BBC Monitoring International Reports)
The position of the Ukrainian State Border Service has improved in recent times, according to its first deputy chairman, Col-Gen Pavlo Shysholin. Speaking in a largely upbeat interview with a Ukrainian web site, he said that following its elevation to a state service, the SBS had begun to receive more generous funding, enabling a start to be made on improvements. In particular, the service's manpower can be brought up to 50,000, conscripts will eventually be replaced by professional soldiers and various technical projects are in hand to improve the equipment and vehicles used. Current funding largely rules out the purchase of new equipment, so the emphasis is put on repairing and upgrading existing assets, he said. However, there is a major plan to supply the maritime arm of the service with Ukrainian-made pilotless drones, if the specifications can be improved. The following is an excerpt from the interview with Olha Kalynovska posted on the Defense Express web site on 20 October, entitled "The state border is ready to hold its own"; subheadings have been inserted editorially:
The State Border Service of Ukraine has undergone quite a few changes recently. The department has exchanged its status as a paramilitary formation for that of a service for protecting the state border. Each year, the service recruits fewer conscripts and more professional soldiers. The leadership of the service maintains that the principal purpose of reforming the department is to secure the maximum provision of equipment and to optimize numbers.
The Defense Express agency decided to look into the state of affairs in the State Border Service and the department's plans for the near future. That information was given to us by Col-Gen Pavlo Shysholin, first deputy chairman of the State Border Service of Ukraine.
Staffing and equipment levels
[Kalynovska] How much have the numbers of the State Border Service altered owing to the reforming of the border troops, and what …