Forty senior officers from the NATO Military Committee (MC), as well as thirty soldiers from the alliance’s member countries who do not sit on NATO’s military body – such a delegation represented the NATO MC in Lviv on April 18-19, where for the first time in history, it held a scheduled field meeting at the level of military representatives. How will this visit be remembered? And what does it mean?
WHAT IS THE NATO MILITARY COMMITTEE?
Now, the NATO Military Committee (MC) is the alliance’s highest military authority, the primary source of military advice for the North Atlantic Council (NAC) in matters of military policy and strategy. The MC is responsible for translating political decisions and guidance produced by the NAC into military directions. It also develops strategic policy and concepts, and prepares an annual long-term assessment of the strength and capabilities of countries and areas posing a risk to NATO’s interests. The MC consists of senior military officers (usually three-star generals or admirals) from NATO member countries, who serve as permanent military representatives of their countries in NATO and thus represent their chiefs of general staff.
WHAT WAS THE OBJECTIVE AND PROGRAM OF THE VISIT?
The objective of the scheduled field meeting was to continue the military and political dialog between Ukraine and NATO, to discuss priority directions in the development of military cooperation and to acquaint the NATO delegation with changes in the security situation in Ukraine and around its borders.
Over the two-day visit, the NATO delegation visited the Hetman Petro Sahaidachny Land Forces Academy and the Yavoriv Training Ground. They also did hold their field meeting, which took place jointly with the partner nations. Chief of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) Viktor Muzhenko represented Ukraine. It should also be noted that principal deputy chief monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine Alexander Hug took part in the meeting as well.
By the way, Head of the NATO Representation to Ukraine Alexander Vinnikov also came to Lviv on those days, and met there with the city’s mayor and the head of the Lviv Oblast State Administration.
“NONE OF OUR NATIONS WAS IN THE SAME SITUATION AS UKRAINE IN THE PAST TWO DECADES”
The main public speaker of the delegation was Chairman of the NATO Military Committee General Petr Pavel from the Czech Republic. In an interview he gave UNIAN before the visit, the general noted that the assessment of the UAF’s readiness level was not a criterion for granting this country the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP): “If we, as soldiers, are asked to provide advice (whether to grant MAP to Ukraine or not), then it will be about the level of cooperation, the level of readiness of Ukrainian forces. We can deliver it even now. We can deliver a report on the status of readiness of Ukrainian forces at any time. Because we know where we are, we know where the problems and challenges are. But it is not a criterion for granting MAP. Because it is not a precondition. Granting MAP is a political decision, it is not based on military recommendations.
“None of our nations was in the same situation as Ukraine in the past two decades. The situation for every nation is unique. For example, when my country (the Czech Republic), Poland, and Hungary joined in 1999, the situation in the three countries was comparable. We were a part of the Partnership for Peace process, we started working on developing standards, increasing interoperability, and then we got MAP to somehow streamline preparations for membership. With Ukraine, we have much broader cooperation today than these three countries had as they were approaching accession. MAP is a more or less political tool to express the level of aspirations and somehow define the period that remains between ‘today’ and potential membership.”
For Ukraine, getting MAP is an important task on the way to joining NATO. At the same time, Pavel expressed doubts in the interview that MAP would change the level of cooperation with Ukraine: “In fact, for us, there will be very little change, if any. As I said, the level and depth of cooperation is already significant now and we could hardly add anything more. So, any discussion on granting MAP is reserved to the political level.
“Granting MAP should be an act made after a country reaches some success in reforms. And whenever I participate in a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, we all hear at the table that there is still way to go in terms of reforms. I believe that once progress has reached the level that will be acceptable for granting MAP as a political decision, there will be a consensus on this issue.”
“WE WILL KEEP WORKING ON PROVIDING WEAPONS TO UKRAINE”
Radio Liberty reports that chairman of the NATO MC Pavel also noted during his brief speech: “The NATO MC will continue to assist Ukraine, as well as provide the tools and take measures which are necessary to achieve this. The MC should be seen as fully supportive of Ukraine, and we will keep working on providing weapons to Ukraine as well.”