Is Ukraine a Security Provider or Security Consumer in Europe?
It is a rather rhetorical question. Ukraine has always been an active contributor to European and Euro-Atlantic security. Ukraine’s peacekeeping contingents and personnel participated in a huge number of NATO’ and EU-led operations as well as in numerous missions under the UN umbrella all around the world. Ukraine is the only Partner Nation that has contributed to all ongoing NATO-led operations and missions.
Despite Russian aggression against Ukraine, the country continues to contribute to the Kosovo Force (KFOR), currently with a heavy engineering unit with counter-improvised explosive devices capabilities.
Ukraine is also currently supporting the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan aimed at training, advising and assisting Afghan security forces. Furthermore, we are the first partner country to have contributed to the NATO Response Force (NRF) by providing strategic airlift capabilities.
We have a history of successful cooperation with NATO in the sphere of joint military exercises. I would like to mention today, among others, the Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian brigade that participated in the largest war exercises in Poland, Anaconda-2016. This is also a part of our contribution to European and Euro-Atlantic security. We must intensify and develop it further.
Ukraine is the first line of defense for Europe and its democratic values, and we need international support. Russian aggression against Ukraine has never stopped. Russia is consistently building powerful military strongholds in the occupied Donbas and Crimea, ready to explode at any opportune moment and lead to a full-fledged European crisis.
Since Russia unleashed an armed aggression against my country, many western countries have joined efforts in many various formats to help Ukraine. Without this help, it would be very difficult for us to resist heavy attacks at all fronts, including military, economic, humanitarian, information ones etc.
I firmly believe that UA is simultaneously both a security provider and security consumer in Europe, as it is impossible to view the security of one European country separated from the security of others.
Why is NATO Important for Ukraine?
This year, for the first time in its history, Ukraine adopted fundamental military strategic documents. For the first time the full cycle of strategic planning was conducted in close cooperation with NATO and NATO advisors.
We are building the new Army according to NATO standards. Fifteen new brigades are already operational and ready to fight. We have made deep and profound changes in military training and education. We are extremely grateful to NATO Nations, which are participating in the training of Ukrainian troops.
The new Special Operations Force has been created in Ukraine. Together with NATO experts we have redefined the role of the Airborne Forces and the Artillery in the ATO.
At the same time, it is not only about what NATO can do for Ukraine, but what Ukraine can and already does for NATO. We do not expect NATO forces to fight for us. Ukrainian troops defend Ukrainian sovereignty. We have contingency plans for different scenarios of the conflict. Together Ukraine and NATO can be a strong defender of the eastern flank of Europe.
Ukraine has a unique experience of fighting the largest Army in Europe. Not a single NATO member state fought with a modernized Russian Army. Ukraine has a successful experience of having countered Russian hybrid warfare tactics for two years. We inflicted severe physical casualties to Russian troops, ruined their plans to invade half of Ukraine and stopped Russian advance in Donbas.
Ukraine can contribute to NATO collective security with practical experience of Ukrainian troops, as well as security service and military intelligence. At the same time, we expect that NATO will continue to support Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty particularly by strong political and diplomatic efforts. My strongest appeal to the international community is to consolidate and to maintain pressure on Russia until it stops aggression and returns to adherence to the international law.
In the case of Ukraine, there are two principal ways to reach this: to make Ukraine stronger and to make the price of aggression for Russia much higher. All responsible international actors should send a clear signal to Russia that all its aggressive actions violating international law would get a swift and resolute response. I call on the world leaders to intensify their support to Ukraine, including enhancing our defense capabilities and increasing the pressure on Russia, in particular, through sanctions.
Ukraine extremely needs the solidarity and unity of its international partners to withstand and tackle Russian aggression, which is aimed at simply killing Ukrainian independence and statehood.
What are the Major Obstacles for Ukraine’s Further Integration into European Security Structures?NATO-Ukraine Distinctive Partnership is an inalienable part of Ukraine’s strategic course towards the EU membership and is an essential element of security in the Euro-Atlantic area and beyond. The strategic nature of NATO-Ukraine Distinctive Partnership has been framing and will further frame relations and practical cooperation between Ukraine and NATO.
NATO membership is a strategic goal for Ukraine. We welcome NATO 2008 Bucharest summit decision that Ukraine will become a member of NATO. We expect that NATO’s door will remain open to “European democracies willing and able to assume the responsibilities and obligations of membership”. We also expect that decisions on enlargement be for NATO itself to make, and no third country has or will have a say in this decision.
The preparation to future NATO membership is an important direction of Ukraine’s foreign and domestic policies. The mid-term goal for Ukraine is to achieve complete compatibility with NATO and the armed forces of its member states. The implementation of NATO standards in defense and security sectors, fight against corruption, civilian control over the military, raising public awareness on NATO are key priorities for today. All these are about functional integration.
How Would You Assess NATO’s Recent Strategic Decisions over Security in Europe?
NATO’s decisions to strengthen its presence in the Baltic States and Poland are important not only for European, but also for Ukrainian security.
Due to Russian aggression against Ukraine, NATO is switching from its policy of reassuring NATO Allies to taking its steps in a policy of deterrence towards Russia. It is a substantial change given the differences in perceiving the challenges and threats among different NATO members regarding the formation of policy towards Russia. The decision to deploy four battalion-sized battlegroups in Poland and the Baltic states is an important measure.
Nevertheless, the consequences of the upcoming elections in the USA, Germany, France as well as developments in the Great Britain in the context of Brexit may also present challenges to the credibility of NATO deterrence policy.
What Would Be the Most and the Least Favorable Trajectory of the Black Sea Regional Security for Ukraine?
The Black Sea region is rife with potential flashpoints that threaten regional security. In the Black Sea region, the mainstays of international order since the end of the World War II – territorial integrity, self-determination, non-intervention in domestic affairs – have been fundamentally challenged by Russia.
Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea has shifted the military balance in the Black Sea more strongly in its favor and significantly expanded Russia’s strategic footprint.
Particularly dangerous are the Russian actions to prepare Crimean military infrastructure for deployment of nuclear weapons, including refurbishing the infrastructure of Soviet-era nuclear warheads storage facilities. Potential carriers of nuclear weapon, such as warships, short-range missile systems and combat aircraft, have already been deployed in the Crimean Peninsula. In fact, Russia turns Crimea into a “grey zone”, which is de facto not covered by the existing multilateral arms control agreements.
An enhanced international military presence in Southeastern Europe and additional naval deployments in the region, if endorsed, would be valuable steps towards enhancing stability and security in the Black Sea region.
Thus, a comprehensive international strategy towards the Black Sea security should be developed in cooperation with NATO, the European Union and other regional organizations. From our point of view, this strategy should include maintaining a persistent NATO maritime, land and air presence in the region and additional international training and exercises.
How Could Ukraine Contribute to the European Security?
From my point of view, establishing peace in Eastern Ukraine is the best contribution to the European security. I am sure that Western political pressure and sanctions should be reinforced until Russia stops undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence.
Lifting sanctions at the background of continuing violations of fundamental international legal norms by Russia envisaged inter alia in the UN Charter and Helsinki Final Act will cause disruption of the international security architecture with unpredictable consequences. It will deprive international community of the key instrument of imposing responsibility and increase exposure to numerous security threats and challenges emanating from revisionist states and terrorism.
Sanctions are the only effective and peaceful instrument to deter Russian aggression in Europe. Together with the other kinds of pressure they have brought a concrete result – Russian aggression in Donbas was suspended and localized, now they have to achieve their ultimate goal – returning Russia to practice of observing and honoring international law and bringing peace to Europe’s eastern flank.
Is Ukraine a Security Provider or Security Consumer in Europe?