The NATO Information and Documentation Centre in Ukraine (NIDC) and the Embassy of Lithuania, which is the contact embassy of the Alliance in our country, marked the 20th anniversary of the distinctive partnership between Ukraine and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in a special way. They organized a two-hour discussion at the Ukraina Cinema with the participation of the Alliance’s leading ambassadors, entitled “Twenty Years of the Distinctive NATO-Ukraine Partnership: Achievements and Challenges,” as well as a screening of the film 20 Years Together – 20 Success Stories of NATO-Ukraine Partnership Projects, which had been prepared by the abovementioned Centre.
In her capacity as moderator, Director of the NIDC Barbora Maronkova invited the participants to name three most important achievements in cooperation between NATO and Ukraine this year.
THREE MOST IMPORTANT ACHIEVEMENTS OF 2017
Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Ivanna KLYMPUSH-TSINTSADZE considers the fact that the understanding of the vision of cooperation with NATO was finalized this year and the strategic goal of membership in the Alliance was legally defined to be the greatest achievement.
She listed moving to a new format of cooperation – the Annual National Program (ANP), which is a kind of roadmap of tasks and reforms needed to achieve NATO membership, as the next most important achievement.
The third achievement, in her opinion, is the transition to a modular training model for people working with NATO. “This year,” she said, “with the help of the Alliance, 100 people completed this course and received the necessary knowledge.”
Alexander VINNIKOV, who is head of the NATO Representation to Ukraine and director of the NATO Liaison Office in Ukraine, described the visit of a delegation of the North Atlantic Council, headed by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, as the main achievement. “This was the first such visit since 2008, a very clear signal, the strongest possible signal of NATO support for Ukraine. Three key messages of this visit which I would like to remind everyone were, firstly, confirmation of our steadfast support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity; secondly, re-confirmation of the open-door policy, there was a very clear message on that count, and thirdly, a message for those who wish to travel the road to membership. It is a complex road, full of challenges, and the key is to implement reforms, not only of security and defense, but across government, and across the state,” he stressed.
In addition, Vinnikov noted that this year, a review of the Comprehensive Assistance Package for Ukraine was conducted, which was adopted at the NATO summit in Warsaw in 2016 and provides for advisory assistance as well as Trust Funds and a capacity-building program in 13 key areas.
According to him, the successes in that field include the creation of trust funds, in particular, one dedicated to identifying and destroying improvised explosive devices. In addition, he added, equipment for monitoring and controlling cyber threats had been provided to Ukraine. No less important, stressed Vinnikov, was the creation of a trust fund for medical rehabilitation.
Head of the NATO Representation to Ukraine listed as the third positive achievement of this year the July 10 move of the NIDC and the NATO Liaison Office to new premises, citing it as a symbolic step which demonstrated the increased role played by the representation in assisting Ukraine.
Ambassador of Lithuania to Ukraine Marius JANUKONIS named a significant increase in support for NATO membership among Ukrainians as one of the achievements in the Alliance’s cooperation with Ukraine. According to him, the second achievement was the activation of the LITPOLUKRBRIG, which is an important contribution to spreading the NATO standards among Ukrainian military personnel. Janukonis described as the third achievement the establishment of a Lithuanian training mission in Ukraine, which consists of 40 instructors and contributes to the increase of operational and tactical proficiency among Ukrainian military personnel.
Ambassador of Poland to Ukraine Jan PIEKLO also listed the activation of the LITPOLUKRBRIG as an achievement; it was named after Kostiantyn Ostrozky, whose name is associated with the First Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the history of Lithuania and Ukraine. A structure tasked with countering hybrid warfare has been established as well, which has become an excellent tool for the exchange of information and Ukraine’s experience which is used in the hybrid war that Russia wages on the West.
Another important achievement, in Pieklo’s opinion, was the military parade on Independence Day in Kyiv, where Ukrainians were accompanied by soldiers from several NATO member countries, as well as Georgia and Moldova.
It was very important for Poland to look to the east and build up Ukraine’s capacity for future NATO membership, he stressed.
Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy to Ukraine George KENT noted as an achievement American instructors’ efforts to train the 72nd Brigade’s soldiers at Yavoriv Training Ground, which had resulted in the tactical combat capabilities of this unit having been significantly strengthened, as well as new experience gained in saving the lives of soldiers. “This is a great success, because it is not just talk, and such exercises and training bring practical results, enabling Ukrainian military units to operate much better,” he emphasized.
According to him, the second achievement is the continuation of NATO’s support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, and this is a cornerstone of the US’s policy. “It is very important to maintain unity among NATO members,” Kent said.
Ambassador of Canada to Ukraine Roman WASCHUK recalled that his country’s diplomatic mission was a contact embassy in 1996-97, precisely when the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership was signed and the NIDC opened in Kyiv with the participation of then-Secretary General Javier Solana, its first director being Canadian Roman Lishchynski.
The Canadian ambassador listed among the achievements of 2017 the functioning of the institute of high-level strategic advisors at the Committee for Reforms of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Armed Forces. “We also are working at both the tactical and the training level, and together we are offering ideas on how to make reforms in the Ukrainian Armed Forces sustainable,” Waschuk said.
Ambassador of Germany to Ukraine Ernst REICHEL also called the establishment of the institute of strategic advisors, which includes top-level experts who provide advice, a major achievement.
He noted that Germany had been admitting wounded Ukrainian soldiers for treatment on a bilateral basis since the beginning of the conflict with Russia in the Donbas in 2014. According to him, the number of soldiers admitted to special hospitals reached a hundred this year.
Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy to Ukraine Helen FAZEY described as an achievement the July 2017 visit by the North Atlantic Council, which symbolized the body’s support for NATO’s distinctive partnership with Ukraine and practical assistance.
She considers the provision of practical advice on implementing reforms in the defense sector by strategic advisers to the Ministry of Defense and the government to be another achievement.
The third achievement, she said, was the UK-sponsored professional development program.
GOALS FOR 2018 AND EXPECTATIONS FROM THE NATO SUMMIT
According to Waschuk, the main goal for the next year is to maintain NATO solidarity with Ukraine. And this means taking a serious approach to the 2018 summit, as well as discussion of Ukraine’s movement towards NATO integration. This means that no bilateral irritants should be allowed to obscure the Alliance’s activities.
Meanwhile, Reichel believes that next year, Ukraine should first adopt a law on national security that will focus on civilian and parliamentary control over the Armed Forces and the security sector. Secondly, he stressed that the process of reforming the Armed Forces had to be continued, and thirdly, the defense budget should be transparent, and the transformation of security institutions should be conducted in line with the best international practice of NATO member states.
Janukonis also emphasized the need to ensure transparency and the rule of law during the reform of the defense sector. However, he believes it is necessary to focus more on hybrid threats, which should become one of the most important areas of cooperation between NATO and Ukraine.
For his part, Pieklo proposed to create a Romanian-Moldovan-Ukrainian Brigade following the example of the LITPOLUKRBRIG. According to him, it will strengthen the allies and help Ukraine deal with the threat from the east.
Fazey believes that at the NATO summit in July next year, consideration should be given to how the Alliance and Ukraine should further develop relations. As for Ukraine itself, the reform agenda should cover the administrative reform of the Ministry of Defense, improving transparency, and continuing the fight against corruption in the defense sector. It is also important to continue the reform of the Armed Forces in order to improve their capabilities. And in this area, the UK will continue bilateral training programs with the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Meanwhile, Kent drew attention to the need for reforms in the defense industry. “For example, we are unsure if Ukroboronprom is the right model for the defense sector. This structure should adopt international standards, which is an important element for the establishment of cooperation,” he said, expressing the hope that the government will make a decision on this issue.
Klympush-Tsintsadze stressed that the government saw implementation of the ANP, which envisages reforms in many areas, as its main task for 2018. “We are considering this program as the Membership Action Plan-light and moving forward with the adoption of the law on national security and transparency in the defense sector,” she said.
And the second goal, she said, was about making a long-term geopolitical determination for the Alliance and Ukraine’s role for it, instead of looking time and again for some reason or pretext why Ukraine was not yet part of such a strategic vision which we all expect and think to be absolutely natural, one where NATO should have Ukraine as its member and accordingly work on it.
The third goal, she continued, was information security, which had to be an all-important priority in the context of countering hybrid threats.