Relations with Ukraine

  • Last updated: 22 Nov. 2016 16:17

A sovereign, independent and stable Ukraine, firmly committed to democracy and the rule of law, is key to Euro-Atlantic security. Relations between NATO and Ukraine date back to the early 1990s and have since developed into one of the most substantial of NATO’s partnerships. Since 2014, in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, cooperation has been intensified in critical areas.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko

Highlights

  • Dialogue and cooperation started after the end of the Cold War, when newly independent Ukraine joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (1991) and the Partnership for Peace programme (1994).
  • Relations were strengthened with the signing of the 1997 Charter on a Distinctive Partnership, which established the NATO-Ukraine Commission (NUC) to take cooperation forward.
  • Cooperation has deepened over time and is mutually beneficial with Ukraine being the only partner to have contributed actively to all NATO-led operations and missions.
  • Priority is given to support for comprehensive reform in the security and defence sector, which is vital for Ukraine’s democratic development and for strengthening its ability to defend itself.
  • In response to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, NATO has reinforced its support for capability development and capacity building in Ukraine.

More background information


  • Response to the Russia-Ukraine conflict

    From the very beginning of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, NATO has adopted a firm position in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, condemning Russia’s illegal and illegitimate “annexation” of Crimea and the violence and insecurity in eastern Ukraine caused by Russia and Russian-backed separatists, expressing its full support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.

    Extensive recourse was made throughout the crisis to the NATO-Ukraine Commission to consult in view of the direct threats faced by Ukraine to its territorial integrity, political independence and security. NATO developed its response to the conflict based on strong political and practical support measures.

    Following the illegal and illegitimate “annexation” of Crimea by Russia, NATO foreign ministers met with their Ukrainian counterpart on 1 April 2014, condemning Russia’s illegal military intervention in Ukraine and its violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and agreeing on measures to enhance Ukraine’s ability to provide for its own security. They further decided to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation with Russia, while leaving political and military channels of communication open.

    At NATO’s Summit in Wales in September 2014, Allied leaders met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in the NATO-Ukraine Commission. In a joint statement, they condemned Russia’s “annexation” of Crimea and its continued and deliberate destabilisation of eastern Ukraine in violation of international law.  The Allies pledged to support the efforts of the Ukrainian government to pursue a political path that meets the aspirations of the people in all regions of Ukraine without external interference. They also decided to further enhance their practical support to Ukraine, based on a significant enhancement of existing cooperation programmes as well as the development of substantial new programmes.

    NATO has strongly supported the settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine by diplomatic means and dialogue. It has supported the Minsk agreements of September 2014 and welcomed the adoption of the Package of Measures for their implementation in February 2015. Allies have underlined that all signatories to the Minsk Agreements bear responsibility to comply with the commitments they signed up, and that Russia’s responsibility is significant, as it must stop its deliberate destabilisation of eastern Ukraine through its political, military and financial support for militants, withdraw its forces and military equipment from Ukrainian territory and fully support a political solution of the conflict. On 20 April 2016, during the meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, Allied Ambassadors reiterated NATO’s firm position on Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

    The development of practical support measures to enhance Ukraine’s ability to provide for its own security began against the background of Russia’s military escalation in Crimea with a focus on strengthening existing programmes on defence education, professional development, security sector governance and security-related scientific cooperation with Ukraine. At the NATO Summit in Wales, Allies pledged to launch substantial new programmes, with the help of Trust Funds – a mechanism which allows individual Allies and partner countries to provide financial support on a voluntary basis. Five Trust Funds were set up in critical areas of reform and capability development of the Ukrainian security and defence sector, including Command, control, communications and computers (C4); logistics and standardization; cyber defence; military career transition; and medical rehabilitation (see ”Key areas of cooperation” for more details).

    NATO is also providing advisory and financial support in the area of public diplomacy, media relations and strategic communications.

    Moreover, the Allies have reinforced their advisory presence at the NATO Representation in Kyiv. Advisors have been seconded by Allied nations to work with their Ukrainian counterparts on key areas of security and defence sector reform and the implementation of Trust Funds and support programmes.  

  • Key areas of cooperation

    Consultations and cooperation between NATO and Ukraine cover a wide range of areas including peace-support operations, defence and security sector reform, military-to-military cooperation, armaments, civil emergency planning, science and environment, and public diplomacy. Cooperation in many areas is being intensified to enhance Ukraine's ability to provide for its own security in the wake of the conflict with Russia.

    Peace-support operations

    Ukraine has long been an active contributor to Euro-Atlantic security by deploying troops that work with peacekeepers from NATO and other partner countries. It is the only partner country that has contributed, at one stage or other, to all ongoing NATO-led operations and missions.

    Ukraine has supported NATO-led peace-support operations in the Balkans – both Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo. Ukraine continues to contribute to the Kosovo Force (KFOR), currently with a heavy engineering unit with counter-improvised explosive devices capabilities.

    The country supported the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, with over-flight clearance, and allowed for the transit of supplies for forces deployed there. Ukraine also contributed medical personnel to support Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan and instructors to the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan. Following the completion of ISAF's mission at the end of 2014, Ukraine is currently supporting the NATO-led mission to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces, known as the Resolute Support mission.

    From March 2005, Ukraine contributed officers to the NATO Training Mission in Iraq, which terminated in December 2011.

    Ukraine has deployed ships in support of Operation Active Endeavour – NATO's maritime operation in the Mediterranean aiming to helping deter, disrupt and protect against terrorism – six times since 2007, most recently in November 2010. At the end of 2013, it also contributed a frigate to NATO's Operation Ocean Shield, which fights piracy off the coast of Somalia.

    Ukraine is also the first partner country to have contributed to the NATO Response Force (NRF), contributing a platoon specialised in nuclear, biological and chemical threats in 2011 and strategic airlift capabilities in 2011. In 2015, Ukraine contributed the strategic airlift, naval and medical capabilities. Such contribution remains valid in 2016.

    Defence and security sector reform

    Ukraine's cooperation with NATO in the area of defence and security sector reform is crucial to the ongoing transformation of Ukraine's security posture and remains an essential part of its democratic transition.

    Ukraine has sought NATO's support in efforts to transform its Cold War legacy of massive conscript forces into smaller, professional and more mobile armed forces, able to meet the country's security needs and to contribute actively to stability and security in the Euro-Atlantic area and beyond. In conclusion of the comprehensive review launched in 2014, Ukraine's new security strategy provides for the reform of the country's security and defence sector according to NATO standards.

    NATO supports Ukraine's defence and related security sector reform through the Joint Working Group on Defence Reform (JWGDR), and the Planning and Review Process (PARP) mechanism and the advisory mission at the NATO Representation in Kyiv. A key overarching objective of cooperation in this area is to strengthen democratic and civil control of Ukraine's armed forces and security institutions. Allies contribute to the transformation of Ukraine's defence and security institutions into modern and effective organisations under civil and democratic control, able to provide a credible deterrence to aggression and defence against military threats. NATO assists Ukraine in the modernisation of its force structure, command and control arrangements, the reform of its logistics system, defence capabilities, and plans and procedures.

    In June 2015, NATO welcomed Ukraine's intention to resume the PARP. NATO International Staff, International Military Staff and Strategic Command staff have worked with the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Finance, the General Staff, the Security Service of Ukraine and State Border Guard Service, the National Guard and the State Emergency Services to discuss new Partnership Goals aiming to support the achievement of strategic structural reforms and incorporate appropriate NATO standards. On 25 April 2016, a new Partnership Goal package was agreed by Allies and Ukraine which focuses on strategic reforms and institution building for the defence and security sector organisations.

    Ukraine considers the PARP a fundamental mechanism to set realistic objectives and improve its defence and security forces to be able to operate alongside Allies in crisis-response operations and other activities to promote security and stability. It also considers PARP an essential tool to promote transformation and reform in the defence and related security sector. The PARP for Ukraine was relaunched in June 2015 after Ukraine ceased its participation early in 2014 due to the crisis. The new 2016 Partnership Goals package will support Ukraine reforms mandated in its 2015 National Security Strategy, and the Military Security Strategy for the security and defence sector.

      • Capacity-building and civil control
        NATO programmes and initiatives contribute to specific aspects of strengthening civil control over defence and related security institutions, including in the intelligence sector. Improving the capacity of these institutions is of fundamental importance for Ukraine's development as a democratic country. As part of wider cooperation in this area, a number of specific initiatives have been taken:
        • A JWGDR Professional Development Programme (PDP) for civilians working in Ukraine's defence and security institutions was launched in October 2005. The budget for this programme was doubled in 2014, with a focus on supporting transformation and reform processes by introducing NATO standards and best practices to defence and security sector, building Ukraine's own self-sustained capacity for professional development, and improving inter-agency cooperation and information-sharing.
        • A Partnership Network for Civil Society Expertise Development was launched in 2006 to promote the sharing of experience on the role of civil society in defence and security affairs among civil society groups and security practitioners in NATO member countries and Ukraine.
        • In 2007, Ukraine joined the NATO Building Integrity (BI) Programme. In 2013, based on the new completion of the NATO Building Integrity Self-Assessment and Peer Review Process, a set of tailored recommendations was offered to strengthen integrity, transparency, accountability, and improve good governance and anti-corruption in the defence and related security sector. On this basis, an annual tailored programme of activities which provides two levels of assistance – specific expertise to the institutions to enhance the good governance and management of defence resources (financial, human and material), and education and training activities to develop individual capacities – is developed and reviewed annually. Since 2015, professional development Building Integrity activities are offered to the students and teaching staff of the military and related security institutions of Lviv, Kharkiv, Khmelnytskyi, Kyiv, Odessa and Zhitomir, as well as the National Defence University of Kyiv to further raise awareness on corruption risks and embed Building Integrity principles in existing programmes of instruction. In 2016, these educational activities are continuing in addition to the development of specific educational materials and professional trainings for the defence establishments.
        • Expert talks with security sector institutions have been launched in the area of cyber defence, with the aim of enhancing inter-agency cooperation and coordination, as well as supporting the development of Ukraine's national cyber security strategy.
      • Defence Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP)
        NATO developed a DEEP programme with Ukraine in response to a request from the Ukrainian Defence Minister in 2012. The programme is the biggest of its kind with any of NATO's partner countries. It is designed to help improve and restructure the military education and professional training systems, with specific focus on eight main defence education institutions in Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, Odessa and Zhitomir. The programme has two main elements: the development of teaching methods ("faculty development" for teaching staff) and curriculum development. Additionally, a high-level advisory team is supporting the Defence Ministry's efforts to reform the military educational system. Training and professionalisation of Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) enlisted soldiers and Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) is critically important for the success of overall reform in the UAF and DEEP identified four gap areas in which it now facilitates Allied bilateral support: a) basic combat training programme; b) train the trainers for UAF instructors; c) development of a professional NCO career system; and d) creation of a professional military education for NCOs.
      • Military career transition and resettling of former military personnel
        NATO supports the reintegration of former military personnel into civilian life through a wide range of projects, adjusted to the new challenges brought up by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. NATO provides concrete assistance in the form of professional retraining and provides psychological rehabilitation services to mitigate post-traumatic stress syndrome among demobilised conscripts. Additionally, NATO supports reforms of the defence and security sector for the set-up of an integrated, comprehensive military career transition system through one of the Trust Funds (see below).
      • Destroying stockpiles of weapons and munitions
        Individual Allies are supporting the destruction of Ukraine's stockpiles of anti-personnel mines, munitions and small arms and light weapons through Partnership Trust Fund projects. A first project involved the safe destruction of 400,000 landmines at a chemical plant in Donetsk in 2002-2003. A second project to destroy 133,000 tons of conventional munitions, 1.5 million small arms and 1000 man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS) was launched in 2005. With projected costs of some €25 million, the project is to be carried out over an estimated 12 years. It is the largest demilitarization project of its kind ever to be undertaken, and will permanently increase Ukraine's capacity to destroy surplus munitions. Another Trust Fund supports the disposal of radioactive waste from former Soviet military sites in Ukraine.
      • Air Situation Data Exchange (ASDE)
        Ukraine joined the ASDE programme in July 2006. Through the exchange of filtered air situation information it reduces the risk of potential cross-border incidents and optimises responses to terrorist attacks using civil airplanes. Connections between NATO and Ukraine have been in operation via Hungary since end 2008 and via Turkey since mid-2011. Following the Russia-Ukraine crisis, air data information provided by NATO has been extended to cover a larger area.
      • Economic aspects of defence
        Dialogue and exchanges of experience with experts take place with Ukraine on the economic aspects of defence. Issues covered include security aspects of economic development and economic matters, as well as topics specifically related to defence economics such as defence budgets, the management of defence resources and restructuring in the defence sector. Courses are also organised for Ukrainian staff, covering the whole budgetary process from financial planning to financial control.
      • Trust Funds promoting security and defence sector reform and capability development
        At the Wales Summit in 2014, Allies decided to launch substantial new programmes to enhance NATO's assistance to capability development and sustainable capacity-building in Ukraine's security and defence sector. Five Trust Funds were set up, making use of a mechanism which allows individual Allies and partner countries to provide financial support on a voluntary basis. Subsequently, all Allies have contributed in one way or the other to the development of these Trust Funds. They include:
        • Trust Fund on Command, Control, Communications and Computers (C4)

    The C4 Trust Fund assists Ukraine in reorganising and modernising its C4 structures and capabilities, facilitates their interoperability with NATO to contribute to NATO-led exercises and operations, and enhances Ukraine's ability to provide for its own defence and security.

    The Trust Fund is led by Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom, with the NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCIA) as executing agent. NATO is conducting an ongoing assessment of Ukraine's capabilities and needs as well as fact-finding trips to Ukraine to identify priority C4 requirements through consultations with Ukrainian authorities. A final report on recommendations for reform, reorganisation and modernisation of Ukraine's Armed Forces and capabilities in the C4 area will be finalised in July 2016.

    Based on project recommendations to date, the C4 Trust Fund Lead Nations have approved two initial projects, which are currently underway:

        • the Regional Airspace Security Programme (RASP), to promote regional airspace security cooperation and interoperability with NATO, improve Ukraine's internal civil-military airspace cooperation, and to establish cross-border coordination capability with Allies for better handling of air security incidents;
        • the Secure Tactical Communications Project, to assist Allies in supporting the provision of secure communications equipment to enhance Ukraine's capabilities for secure Command and Control and Situational Awareness for its Armed Forces.

    The Lead Nations are also considering approval and implementation of two additional longer-term projects: first, Knowledge Sharing – to provide NATO subject-matter expertise, training, standards, best practices, mentoring and advice to C4 project teams and subject-matter experts in Ukraine; and second, Situational Awareness (SA) – to assist Ukraine's Armed Forces in the development and establishment of a modern, secure SA Centre and mission networking capability using NATO standards, software tools, procedures and training.

        • Trust Fund on Logistics and Standardization

    The logistics and standardization Trust Fund aims to support the ongoing reform of Ukraine's logistics and standardization systems for the Ukrainian Armed Forces as well as other national military formations, including the National Guard and the State Border Security Service as appropriate.
    The Trust Fund is led by the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Poland. The project builds on the findings of a Strategy Level Gap Analysis conducted in the course of 2015. It complements and is aligned with other NATO activities performed in these areas such as those under the PARP and JWGDR.

    Over the course of three years, the project aims will be achieved through the implementation of three capability-driven initiatives in support of long-term developments, with a focus on National Codification Capability Enhancement, Supply Chain Management Capability Improvement, and Standardization Management Capability Improvement.

        • Trust Fund on Cyber Defence

    The Trust Fund on Cyber Defence for Ukraine aims to help Ukraine develop strictly defensive, technical capabilities to counter cyber threats.
    The Trust Fund is led by Romania. Assistance will include the establishment of an incident management centre for monitoring cyber security incidents and laboratories to investigate cyber security incidents.

    The project also has a training and advisory dimension with an adaptive approach. This is based on the interests of both Allies and Ukraine and derived from the requirements of Ukraine's security and defence sector institutions. This approach ensures concrete and relevant results in the short term while remaining scalable according to the availability of funds. It is also flexible to enable adaptation to relevant lessons identified in the course of the Trust Fund's implementation.

        • Trust Fund on Medical Rehabilitation

    The project aims to ensure that the patients – active and discharged Ukrainian servicemen and women and civilian personnel from the defence and security sector – have rapid access to medical rehabilitation care as well as to longer-term medical services when needed.

    Facilitating greater access to rehabilitation through sport is a key part of this, with over 300 people with disabilities set to benefit from a programme supported by the Trust Fund. The project also supports two sportsmen competing to participate in world-level sport event in 2016-2017. Furthermore, the project aims to ensure that the medical rehabilitation system in Ukraine has the means to provide long-term sustainable services.

    The project, led by Bulgaria and executed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), runs over 24 months in at least five locations (Kharkiv, Kyiv, Llubin, Lviv, Novi Shandzari). It follows another NATO project, which in 2015 initiated support for 12 servicemen, several experts visits and conferences attended by over 1,000 Ukrainian health officials, as well as support for the change of law to recognise physiotherapist, orthotherapist, orthotist and prosthetist as an official profession in Ukraine.

        • Trust Fund on Military Career Transition

    The military career transition Trust Fund, led by Norway, assists Ukraine in developing and implementing a sustainable, effective and integrated approach of resettlement of military personnel embedded in the Armed Forces' personnel management function.

    The project increases Ukrainian officials' understanding of the main organisational and managerial concepts of social adaptation systems, develop their professional skills, define parameters for the assistance for resettlement within the Ukrainian Armed Forces through a combination of seminars, workshops, study tours and analytical surveys.

    Military-to-military cooperation

    Helping Ukraine implement its defence reform objectives is also a key focus of military-to-military cooperation, complementing the work carried out under the JWGDR with military expertise.

    Another important objective is to develop operational capabilities and interoperability with NATO forces through a wide range of activities and military exercises organised under the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme and sometimes hosted by Ukraine. These exercises allow military personnel to train for peace-support operations and gain hands-on experience of working with forces from NATO countries and other partners. Ukraine also recently joined a new initiative – the Partnership Interoperability Initiative – launched at the 2014 Wales Summit. It aims to maintain the levels of interoperability developed by international forces during the NATO-led operation in Afghanistan, which completed its mission in December 2014.

    Senior Ukrainian officers also regularly participate in courses at the NATO Defense College in Rome, Italy and the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany. Contacts with these establishments have been instrumental in setting up a new multinational faculty at the Ukrainian Defence Academy.

    Ukraine's active participation in the NATO Operational Capabilities Concept Evaluation and Feedback Programme is providing its benefits for improvement of the interoperability of Ukrainian Armed Forces, reinforcement of its operational capabilities and enabling the Alliance to put together tailored force packages in support of NATO-led crisis-response operations as well as any other NATO-led operation and mission.

    The military side has also taken the lead in developing a legal framework to enable NATO and Ukraine to further develop operational cooperation:

      • A PfP Status of Forces Agreement facilitates participation in PfP military exercises by exempting participants from passport and visa regulations and immigration inspection on entering or leaving the territory of the country hosting the event (entered into force in May 2000).
      • A Host Nation Support Agreement addresses issues related to the provision of civil and military assistance to Allied forces located on, or in transit through, Ukrainian territory in peacetime, crisis or war (ratified in March 2004).
      • A Strategic Airlift Agreement enables Ukraine to make a substantial contribution to NATO's capability to move outsized cargo by leasing Antonov aircraft to Allied armed forces – an arrangement which also brings economic benefits to Ukraine (ratified in October 2006).

    Defence technical cooperation

    Defence technical cooperation between Ukraine and NATO focuses on enhancing interoperability of Ukrainian contributions to international operations with the forces of NATO nations.

    Cooperation in this area began with the entry of Ukraine to the Partnership for Peace and, in particular, their participation in a number of groups that meet under the auspices of the Conference of National Armaments Directors (CNAD) – the senior NATO body responsible for promoting cooperation between Allies and partners in the armaments field. The CNAD identifies opportunities for cooperation between nations in capability development, defence equipment procurement processes, and the development of technical standards.

    The Joint Working Group on Defence Technical Cooperation, which met for the first time in March 2004, works toward increased cooperation in this area between NATO and Ukraine. Current priorities include:

    • Standardization and codification as a means for increasing interoperability of the Ukrainian armed forces with Allied forces.
    • Implementation of the Trust Fund projects on command, control, communications and computers (C4) and demilitarization of expired ammunition and excess small arms and light weapons (see above, Defence and security sector reform).
    • Cooperation in the framework of the CNAD and with the NATO Science and Technology Organization.
    • Ukraine's participation in NATO's Smart Defence projects, with the country having joined two projects in 2014 – on harbour protection and promotion of female leaders in security and defence.
    • Implementation of the Air Situation Data Exchange (ASDE) programme (see above).

    Civil emergency planning

    NATO and Ukraine have developed practical cooperation in the field of civil emergency planning (CEP) and disaster preparedness, since the signing of a memorandum of understanding in 1997.

    A Joint NATO-Ukraine Group on Civil Emergency Planning made up of representatives of NATO staff and Ukraine's State Emergency Services meets on a yearly basis to oversee cooperation in the area of CEP.

    Ukraine's western regions are prone to heavy flooding and NATO countries and other partners have provided assistance after severe floods in 1995, 1998 and 2001. A key focus of cooperation has therefore been to help Ukraine better prepare for such emergencies and manage their consequences more effectively. Using some of this expertise, Ukraine sent a mobile rescue centre to Poland as part of an aid effort following flooding in the country in 2010.

    PfP exercises also help develop plans and effective disaster-response capabilities to deal with other natural emergencies such as avalanches and earthquakes, or man-made accidents or terrorist attacks involving toxic spills or chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) agents. Ukraine has hosted such exercises in 2000, 2005 and, most recently, in September 2015.

    Since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine crisis (see above), NATO has consistently shown its solidarity with Ukraine through CEP activities.

    Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme

    Active engagement between Ukraine and the SPS Programme dates back to 1991. A Joint Working Group on Scientific and Environmental Cooperation oversees cooperation in this area. In April 2014, in response to the crisis in Ukraine and following the ministerial guidance, practical cooperation with Ukraine in the field of security-related civil science and technology has been further enhanced.

    SPS activities in Ukraine address a wide variety of emerging security challenges such as counter-terrorism, advanced technologies, cyber defence energy security, and defence against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) agents. Many of the SPS activities currently ongoing help Ukraine to deal with the negative effects of the crisis. In this regard, the SPS Programme plays an important role by engaging Allied and Ukrainian scientists and experts in meaningful, practical cooperation, forging networks and supporting capacity-building in the country.

    Since 2014, a total of 49 SPS activities with Ukraine were launched making it the largest beneficiary of the SPS Programme. These include 40 multi-year research projects, seven advanced research workshops and two advanced training courses. New flagship projects in Ukraine's priority areas of cooperation have been developed and launched, and further ideas for potential cooperation are being explored.

    Top-down flagship SPS projects include:

    • a multinational telemedicine system;
    • support to humanitarian demining in Ukraine;
    • remediation of a fuel-polluted military site in Kyiv;
    • development of an advanced X-ray generator.

    (More on Ukraine's ongoing cooperation under the SPS Programme.)

    Public information/strategic communications

    It is important for the Ukrainian administration and for the Alliance to inform its people about NATO-Ukraine relations and the benefits of cooperation in terms of the country's reform programme. The Allies cooperate with the national authorities of Ukraine in raising awareness about what NATO is today, and in better explaining the NATO-Ukraine relationship.

    The NATO Information and Documentation Centre, based in Kyiv, is NATO's principal public information facility organising seminars, round tables and other communications projects as well as coordinating visits by NATO officials to Ukraine and representatives of Ukrainian civil society to NATO Headquarters in Belgium to help better illustrate the mechanisms behind the partnership. NATO also provides advisory and funding support to Ukraine on public diplomacy, media relations and strategic communications capacity-building to the Ukrainian authorities.

    In particular, NATO has supported the Ukraine Crisis Media Centre and the Kyiv Post newspaper in their efforts to provide an accurate and factual coverage of events occurred in the occupied Crimea peninsula as well as in eastern Ukraine.

    On 22 September 2015, the Strategic Communications Partnership Roadmap was signed by the Secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council, Oleksandr Turchynov, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The objective is to provide the Ukrainian authorities with a more structured and long-term advice, training support and expertise in the area of strategic communications.

  • Framework for cooperation

    The 1997 Charter on a Distinctive Partnership remains the basic foundation underpinning NATO-Ukraine relations. The NATO-Ukraine Commission (NUC) directs cooperative activities and provides a forum for consultation between the Allies and Ukraine on security issues of common concern. The Declaration to Complement the Charter, signed in 2009, gave the NUC a central role in deepening political dialogue and cooperation to underpin Ukraine’s reform efforts. The principal tool to support this process is the Annual National Programme (ANP), which reflects Ukraine’s national reform objectives and annual implementation plans. The ANP is composed of five chapters focusing on: political and economic issues; defence and military issues; resources; security issues; and legal issues.

    Allies assess progress under the ANP annually and the results of the assessment are presented to the NUC. The responsibility for the ANP implementation falls primarily on Ukraine. Through the ANP process, Allies encourage Ukraine to take the reform process forward vigorously in order to strengthen democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the market economy. Helping Ukraine achieve a far-reaching transformation of the defence and security sector is another priority.

    Joint working groups have been set up under the auspices of the NUC, to take work forward in specific areas. Two are of particular importance: the Partnerships and Cooperative Security Committee in NUC format, which takes the leading role in developing Annual National Programmes and preparing high-level meetings of the NUC, and the Joint Working Group on Defence Reform, which facilitates consultation and practical cooperation in the priority area of defence and security sector reform.

    In February 2014, Ukraine established a new Commission for NATO-Ukraine cooperation chaired by the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine.

    The NATO Representation to Ukraine supports cooperation on the ground. It consists of the NATO Information and Documentation Centre, established in 1997 to support efforts to inform the public about NATO’s activities and the benefits of NATO-Ukraine cooperation, and the NATO Liaison Office, established in 1999 to facilitate Ukraine’s participation in NATO’s Partnership for Peace programme and to support its defence and security sector reform efforts by liaising with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defence, National Security and Defence Council, and other Ukrainian agencies.

  • Milestones in relations

    1991: Immediately upon achieving independence with the break-up of the Soviet Union, Ukraine joins the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (the NACC was replaced in 1997 by the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council).

    1994: Ukraine joins the Partnership for Peace (PfP), becoming the first of the Commonwealth of Independent States to do so.

    1996: Ukrainian soldiers deploy as part of the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    May 1997: The NATO Information and Documentation Centre opens in Kyiv.

    July 1997: At a summit meeting in Madrid, Spain, the Allies and Ukraine sign the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership, which sets out principles and arrangements for the further development of NATO-Ukraine relations and identifies areas for consultation and cooperation, establishing the NATO-Ukraine Commission to take work forward.

    1997: Ukraine establishes a diplomatic mission to NATO.

    1998: The NATO-Ukraine Joint Working Group on Defence Reform is established.

    1999: The NATO Liaison Office opens in Kyiv.

    1999: The Polish-Ukrainian Battalion deploys as part of the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo.

    May 2000: The Ukrainian parliament ratifies the PfP Status of Forces Agreement.

    September 2000: Ukraine hosts a multinational disaster-response exercise, Trans-Carpathia 2000.

    May 2002: President Leonid Kuchma announces Ukraine's goal of eventual NATO membership and at a NUC meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland, foreign ministers underline their desire to take the relationship forward to a qualitatively new level.

    July 2002: A project for the safe destruction of 400,000 landmines is inaugurated in Donetsk.

    November 2002: The NATO-Ukraine Action Plan is adopted at a NUC meeting of foreign ministers in November in Prague, the Czech Republic. The Action Plan aims to deepen and broaden the NATO-Ukraine relationship and to support Ukraine’s reform efforts on the road towards Euro-Atlantic integration.

    March 2004: The Ukrainian parliament ratifies the Host Nation Support Agreement with NATO.

    June 2004: Ukraine signs a Strategic Airlift Agreement with NATO.

    Autumn 2004: The Allies closely follow political developments surrounding the presidential elections in Ukraine and the "Orange Revolution". They stress the importance of respect for free and fair elections and postpone a NUC ministerial-level meeting scheduled for December.

    February 2005: The Allies invite newly-elected President Viktor Yushchenko to a summit meeting at NATO Headquarters. They express support for his ambitious reform plans and agree to refocus NATO-Ukraine cooperation in line with the new government's priorities.

    April 2005: NUC foreign ministers meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, launch an Intensified Dialogue on Ukraine's aspirations to NATO membership and a package of short-term actions to strengthen support for key reforms.

    September 2005: A series of staff-level expert discussions is initiated under the Intensified Dialogue.

    October 2005: Ukraine hosts a multinational disaster-response exercise, Joint Assistance 2005.

    October 2005: The North Atlantic Council visits Kyiv to discuss the Intensified Dialogue with Ukraine's foreign and defence ministers.

    February 2006: A Resettlement and Retraining Centre is inaugurated in Khmelnytskyi.

    March 2006: NATO's Secretary General welcomes the conduct of free and fair parliamentary elections as contributing to the consolidation of democracy in Ukraine.

    June 2006: A contract is signed for the launch of a project with Ukraine to destroy 133,000 tons of conventional munitions, 1.5 million small arms and 1,000 man-portable air defence systems over an estimated 12 years.

    September 2006: During a visit to NATO, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych reassures Allies of Ukraine's commitment to ongoing cooperation with NATO. However, he says the Ukrainian people are not yet ready to consider possible NATO membership.

    October 2006: The Ukrainian parliament ratifies the Strategic Airlift Agreement.

    June 2007: Ukraine deploys a ship for the first time in support of Operation Active Endeavour, NATO’s maritime counter-terrorist operation in the Mediterranean. This is followed by a second deployment in the autumn.

    2007: Ukraine sends medical personnel to support a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan.

    April 2008: At the Bucharest Summit, Allied leaders agree that Ukraine will become a NATO member in future.

    2008: Ukraine deploys two vessels in support of Operation Active Endeavour: one in summer, another in autumn.

    December 2008: NUC foreign ministers agree to enhance opportunities for assisting Ukraine in its efforts to meet membership requirements and to develop an Annual National Programme (ANP).

    April 2009: Ukraine signs a land transit agreement for the supply of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

    21 August 2009: A "Declaration to Complement the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership between NATO and Ukraine" is signed to reflect decisions taken at the Bucharest Summit and the December foreign ministers' meeting in 2008.

    February 2010: The new Ukrainian government under President Viktor Yanukovych decides to continue present cooperation with NATO. However, he takes Alliance membership for the country off the agenda.

    May 2010: A memorandum of understanding on "Air Situation Data Exchange" is signed, which aims to reduce airspace conflicts by minimising potential cross-border incidents and optimising responses to renegade situations with civil airplanes.

    November 2010: Ukraine deploys a ship in support of Operation Active Endeavour.

    April 2011: At their meeting in Berlin, NUC foreign ministers reaffirm their distinct partnership and agree to take forward practical cooperation activities.

    May 2012: President Yanukovych attends NATO's Summit in Chicago to participate in a meeting with counterparts from countries that are contributing troops to ISAF.

    November 2012: NATO initiates the Defence Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP) with Ukraine in response to a request from the Ukrainian Defence Minister.

    February 2013: NUC defence ministers agree to reinforce NATO-Ukraine cooperation: agreement is reached on a set of priorities to guide cooperation over the next five years, including in training and exercises; a project for the retraining of former military officers in Ukraine is extended; plans are discussed for a new project to support the neutralisation of radioactive sources from former Soviet military sites; and Ukraine becomes the first partner country to contribute to NATO’s counter-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia, Operation Ocean Shield.

    March 2014: NATO calls on Russia to de-escalate tensions as a so-called referendum is held in Crimea and Russian armed forces are used on the territory of Ukraine. With its independence and territorial integrity under threat, Ukraine invokes a provision of the 2009 Declaration to Complement the NATO-Ukraine Charter and requests a meeting of the NUC. The Allies state that they do not and will not recognise Russia’s illegal and illegitimate “annexation” of Crimea.

    April and June 2014: At ministerial meetings in spring and summer, NATO agrees on concrete support measures for Ukraine to strengthen its ability to provide for its own security. Measures include a number of immediate and short-term actions to help Ukraine cope with the current conflict, and longer-term measures geared towards capacity-building, capability development, and deep reform of the armed forces and the security sector.

    3 September 2014: A NATO-sponsored conference on Ukraine’s defence industry takes place at the International Defence Industry Exhibition in Kielce, Poland.

    4-5 September 2014: At the Wales Summit, Allied leaders meet Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, reaffirming their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and reiterating their condemnation of Russia’s actions; they pledge to step up strategic consultations in the NUC and to further reinforce support for Ukraine.

    2 December 2014: NUC foreign ministers meet to discuss the developments in Ukraine and to review progress made in joint work since the Wales Summit.

    15 December 2014: Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk visits NATO Headquarters to discuss the Alliance’s efforts to support Ukraine’s government with NATO’s Secretary General. Jens Stoltenberg underlines that NATO will stand by the country as it works towards the goal of a sovereign and stable Ukraine, firmly committed to democracy and the rule of law.

    29 December 2014: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signs into law a bill to cancel the non-bloc status of Ukraine and announces that Ukraine will start a process to achieve the criteria needed for NATO membership and also integrate into the Euro-Atlantic security space. He also indicated that a referendum would be held if his country were to apply for NATO membership.

    January 2015: Following the completion of the ISAF operation in Afghanistan in December 2014, Ukraine starts contributing to the follow-on NATO-led mission (“Resolute Support”) to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces and institutions.

    29 January 2015: In talks with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expresses concern about the recent escalation of violence in the country and says that NATO will continue its strong political and practical support for Ukraine.

    24 April 2015: The NATO Communications and Information Agency and Ukraine sign an agreement to facilitate implementation of the Trust Fund project on Command, Control, Communications and Computers, which is part of the NATO support package to Ukraine in response to the crisis with Russia. Once ratified, the agreement will also allow for the further development of technical cooperation.

    28 April 2015: The NATO Support and Procurement Agency signs an agreement with Ukraine, establishing a formal framework for the implementation of two Trust Fund projects, which focus on Logistics and Standardization and on Medical Rehabilitation.

    13 May 2015: In Antalya, Turkey, NUC foreign ministers reaffirm their firm support to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, call on Russia to reverse the illegal and illegitimate “annexation” of Crimea, welcome the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements signed on 12 February 2015, and encourage Ukraine to continue reform efforts.

    21-25 September 2015: Ukraine hosts a major consequence-management field exercise near Lviv, jointly organised by NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre and Ukraine’s State Emergency Service. NATO’s Secretary General and the Ukrainian President attend the opening ceremony.

    22 September 2015: During a visit to Kyiv, NATO’s Secretary General addresses the National Security and Defence Council and has meetings with key members of the government and the speaker of the parliament. Agreements are signed to formalise the diplomatic status of NATO’s Representation in Ukraine, to support Ukraine on strategic communications, and to strengthen technical cooperation on defence.

    2 December 2015: NATO foreign ministers meet their Ukrainian counterpart, Pavlo Klimkin, to review NATO’s assistance to Ukraine as well as the current security situation in the country. The Secretary General stresses that NATO is committed to supporting a peaceful, diplomatic end to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. He cautions that while there has been some progress “there is a real risk of a resumption of violence,” noting that Russian-backed separatists have yet to withdraw their troops and equipment, and that Ukraine has not been able to re-establish control over its border.

    17 December 2015: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko visits NATO Headquarters for a bilateral meeting with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to discuss the outlook for NATO-Ukraine cooperation in 2016.

    8 March 2016: Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak briefs the NATO-Ukraine Commission in Brussels on progress with the defence reform in Ukraine.

    15 June 2016: Defence ministers agree to boost NATO’s support for Ukraine with a Comprehensive Package of Assistance, which aims to help Ukraine strengthen its defences by building stronger security structures. They also exchange views with Ukrainian Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak on the current security situation in eastern Ukraine and the progress of government reforms.

    9 July 2016: At the NATO Summit in Warsaw, Allied leaders meet President Poroshenko and agree to step up support for Ukraine, endorsing a Comprehensive Assistance Package which aims to help make the country’s defence and security institutions more effective, efficient and accountable. They also review the security situation and welcome the government’s plans for reform.

    20 October 2016: NATO’s Secretary General and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko meet at NATO HQ to discuss the security situation in Ukraine and how the Alliance can continue to support Kyiv. Stoltenberg welcomes the recent efforts by leaders of the Normandy Format in Berlin to create a new roadmap for implementing the Minsk Agreement.

    15 November 2016: At a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at NATO HQ Vadym Chernysh, Minister of Ukraine for the Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons, briefs Allies on the security situation in eastern Ukraine, as well as the challenges faced by refugees and internally displaced people.