Digital overhaul is key to Ukraine’s war effort, defence official says

By Thomson Reuters Feb 22, 2024 | 10:00 AM

By Dan Peleschuk

KYIV (Reuters) – Ukraine’s military must cut bureaucracy through digitisation and smart online services to strengthen its war effort against Russia, a senior defence official said on Thursday.

Kyiv is searching for ways to fend off Moscow’s larger and better equipped military, including by overhauling its mobilisation rules and boosting arms production.

Undoing a legacy of red tape and creating a “person-centric” army would also help make Ukraine a more efficient fighting force, said Kateryna Chernohorenko, deputy defence minister for digital development.

“In wartime, we need to constantly fight for time – for a commander’s time, for a soldier’s time – and this time can be won through digital solutions,” she told Reuters in an interview in Kyiv.

Ukraine’s defence ministry announced plans on Wednesday for a mobile app for service members that would offer easy access to a range of administrative services, including the ability to obtain a superior’s approval.

Chernohorenko, who also oversees drone development and other battlefield innovation at the ministry, said the amount of time troops currently spend on filling out paperwork was “unacceptable” during wartime.

“We are moving toward an ecosystem of digital services (built) around the service member,” she said.

The platform, called Army+, will be launched in the summer, Chernohorenko added.

Ukraine has prioritised digitisation in recent years and has won praise for its e-government app Diia, which allows Ukrainians to store important documents online and puts other services, such as paying taxes, at their fingertips.

Defence officials are also developing an online register of draft-eligible Ukrainians to improve mobilisation as fighting drags on and Ukraine’s ranks thin out.

(Reporting by Dan Peleschuk; Editing by Angus MacSwan)