Relations with Ukraine
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.
- 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.
- The Declaration of 2009 to Complement the NATO-Ukraine Charter mandated the NUC, through Ukraine’s Annual National Programme, to underpin Ukraine’s efforts to take forward reforms aimed at implementing Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations, in line with the decisions of the 2008 NATO Summit in Bucharest.
- Cooperation has deepened over time and is mutually beneficial with Ukraine actively contributing to 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. The Allies continue to condemn Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, and its destabilising and aggressive activities in eastern Ukraine and the Black Sea region. NATO has increased its presence in the Black Sea and stepped up maritime cooperation with Ukraine and Georgia.
- Since the NATO Summit in Warsaw in July 2016, NATO’s practical support for Ukraine has been subsumed in the Comprehensive Assistance Package (CAP) for Ukraine.
- In June 2017, the Ukrainian Parliament adopted legislation reinstating membership in NATO as a strategic foreign and security policy objective.
- President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has underlined his eagerness to give new impetus to his country’s engagement with NATO.
More background information
From the very beginning of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, NATO has adopted a firm position in full support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. The Allies immediately condemned – and have since then repeatedly stated that they will not recognise – Russia’s illegal and illegitimate “annexation” of Crimea in March 2014. They also condemned Russia’s deliberate destabilisation of eastern Ukraine caused by its military intervention and support for the militants. The Allies decided to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation with Russia, while leaving political and military channels of communication open. Since then, Allied Ambassadors reiterate NATO’s firm position on Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty at meetings of the NATO-Russia Council, which continues to meet periodically.
Throughout the crisis, regular consultations have taken place in the NATO-Ukraine Commission (NUC) in view of the direct threats faced by Ukraine to its territorial integrity, political independence and security. Allied leaders met with President Petro Poroshenko at the NATO summits in Wales (2014), Warsaw (2016) and Brussels (2018). Foreign and defence ministers as well as ambassadors regularly discussed the security situation in and around Ukraine. Joint statements issued by NUC foreign ministers in April 2014, December 2014 and May 2015 and by Heads of State and Government at the NATO summit meetings in Wales and Warsaw demonstrate NATO’s unwavering support for and solidarity with Ukraine.
The Allies have also pledged to support the efforts of the Ukrainian government to implement wide-ranging reforms to meet the aspirations of Ukrainian people to see their country firmly anchored among European democracies.
In parallel to its political support to Ukraine, NATO has significantly stepped up its practical assistance to Ukraine. Immediately following the illegal and illegitimate “annexation” of Crimea by Russia, NATO foreign ministers agreed on measures to enhance Ukraine’s ability to provide for its own security. They also decided to further develop their practical support to Ukraine, based on a significant enhancement of existing cooperation programmes as well as the development of substantial new programmes. At the summit in Warsaw, NATO’s measures in support of Ukraine became part of the Comprehensive Assistance Package (CAP). The CAP is designed to support Ukraine’s ability to provide for its own security and to implement wide-ranging reforms, including as set out in Ukraine’s Strategic Defence Bulletin of 2016. It comprises eight Trust Funds set up exclusively for Ukraine, working in critical areas of reform and capability development in Ukraine’s security and defence sector. (see “Key areas of cooperation” below for more details).
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, defence technology, interoperability and industry, civil preparedness, 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 and its efforts to implement wide-ranging reforms.
Ukraine has long been an active contributor to Euro-Atlantic security by deploying troops that work with peacekeepers from NATO and other partner countries. In spite of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Ukraine continues to contribute to NATO-led operations and missions.
Ukraine has supported NATO-led peace-support operations in the Balkans – both Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo. It continues to contribute to the Kosovo Force (KFOR), currently with a heavy engineering unit with counter-improvised explosive devices capabilities.
In support of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, Ukraine allowed for over-flight clearance and 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 fought piracy off the coast of Somalia. Since the creation of maritime operation Sea Guardian in 2016, Ukraine continues to provide information in support of NATO's maritime situational awareness in and around the Black Sea.
Ukraine is also the first partner country to have participated in 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 and 2016, Ukraine provided strategic airlift, naval and medical capabilities. Currently, Ukraine is contributing with strategic airlift capabilities.
Lessons learned from hybrid warfare
Against the background of Russia’s actions against Ukraine, the NATO-Ukraine Platform on Countering Hybrid Warfare was established at the Warsaw Summit in July 2016. It provides a mechanism to be better able to identify hybrid threats and to build capacity in identifying vulnerabilities and strengthening resilience of the state and society. High-level conferences held under the Platform in Warsaw, Vilnius and Kyiv in 2017 and 2018 have contributed to this objective and raised public awareness. Further projects in support of research, training and expert consultations are ongoing.
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.
NATO has supported Ukraine's defence and related security sector reform through the Joint Working Group on Defence Reform, and the Planning and Review Process, the NATO Building Integrity Programme, the NATO Defence Education Enhancement Programme, the Joint Working Group on Defence Technical Cooperation and the advisory mission at the NATO Representation in Kyiv.
Through the Comprehensive Assistance Package for Ukraine endorsed by the NATO-Ukraine Commission at the NATO Summit in Warsaw in 2016, NATO pledged to support Ukraine's goal to implement security and defence sector reforms according to NATO standards by providing strategic-level advice as well as 40 tailored support measures.
A key overarching objective of cooperation in this area is to strengthen democratic and civilian control of Ukraine's armed forces and security institutions, as set out in the Ukrainian Law on National Security of June 2018. Allies contribute to the transformation of Ukraine's defence and security institutions into modern and effective organisations under civilian 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. NATO also provides tailored assistance to strengthen good governance and fight against corruption.
The Planning and Review Process
Its participation in the Planning and Review Process (PARP) provides Ukraine with a fundamental mechanism to set realistic reform objectives and to improve its defence and security forces' functional ability to operate alongside Allies in crisis-response operations and other national and international activities to promote security and stability.
The PARP helps guide transformation and reform in the defence and related security sector. The 2018 Partnership Goal package – which sets out goals agreed with the Ukrainian ministries of defence and the interior – explicitly aims to support Ukraine's strategic organisational reforms and institution-building for defence and security sector organisations. This will support Ukraine in pursuing the reforms mandated in its 2015 National Security Strategy and Military Doctrine as well as the Strategic Defence Bulletin approved in 2016. Among the Partnership Goals, 26 are assigned to the defence ministry and the armed forces; 15 to the interior ministry and its subordinate security organisations; and one to cyber defence.
Capacity-building and civilian control
NATO programmes and initiatives contribute to specific aspects of strengthening civilian 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. These issues are key deliverables under NATO's Comprehensive Assistance Package for Ukraine and the Partnership Goals agreed under the PARP. As part of wider cooperation in this area, a number of specific initiatives have been taken.
A 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, building Ukraine's own self-sustained capacity for professional development, and improving inter-agency cooperation and information-sharing. In 2017, the Programme also launched implementation of new concepts including the "Champions 100" project providing support to a pool of Ukrainian civil servants directly responsible for Euro-Atlantic integration processes.
In 2007, Ukraine joined the NATO Building Integrity (BI) Programme to strengthen integrity, transparency and accountability. The recent completion of the new BI Self-Assessment and Peer Review Process (October 2019) provides a thorough assessment of the previous anti-corruption package and a set of recommendations to improve good governance and pursue sustainable anti-corruption reforms in the defence and related security sectors. On this basis, a tailored programme of activities will continue to provide 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.
A specific BI educational programme to raise awareness on corruption risks and embed BI principles in existing programmes of instruction was launched in 2015 with the military and related security institutions of Kharkiv, Khmelnytskyi, Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa and Zhytomyr, as well as the National Defence University of Kyiv. This work is being enhanced through a joint project with the Defence Education Enhancement Programme (see below). Additional capacity-building assistance is being provided to civilian institutions like the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, the National Agency for Corruption Prevention as well as representatives of civil society. The BI Programme benefits from the expertise and support of the European Union.
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 aims to improve and restructure the military education and professional training systems. It focuses specifically on eight defence education institutions in Kharkiv, Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa and Zhytomyr (this includes restoring some Navy Academy capacity in Odesa) and five training centres for Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) in Desna, Mykolayv, Starychi, Vasylkyv and Yavoriv.
Additionally, DEEP advises on management of the academies and universities, including supporting faculty on how to teach and development of courses on leadership and decision-making processes. Support has also focused on building e-learning capacity and improving the English language skills of military professors. These efforts expanded to other areas such as organising simulation exercises and courses for demining instructors.
Starting in 2017, DEEP has shifted its assistance into curriculum development in the areas of civilian and democratic control, personnel management, strategic communication, leadership, quality management and NATO operational planning. Following a request from the defence ministry, the programme has been extended until 2020.
Training and professionalisation of enlisted soldiers and NCOs is critically important for the success of overall reform in the armed forces. DEEP identified four gap areas in which it now facilitates Allied bilateral support: a) basic soldier combat training; b) training of 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 is advising on the set-up of an integrated, comprehensive military career transition system through one of the Trust Funds launched at the Wales Summit in 2014 to support security and defence sector reform (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. Phase 1 of the Trust Fund led by the United States involved the safe destruction of 400,000 small arms and light weapons (SALW), 15,000 tons of munitions and 1,000 man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS) in the 2006-2011 timeframe. A second phase started in 2012. As of May 2018, it has successfully destroyed more than 130,000 SALW, 27,200 tonnes of conventional ammunition and 1.7 million anti-personnel landmines. Its scope was extended in 2017-2018 to support enhanced ammunition safety management.
Another Trust Fund led by Germany supports the disposal of radioactive waste from former Soviet military sites in Ukraine. A project enabling Ukraine to recover and secure radioactive material according to international standards and to restore the site to its original condition was carried out in 2016-17. A follow-on project was launched in December 2017.
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. Work is ongoing to provide Ukraine with a connection for the transfer of classified information.
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. Six Trust Funds were set up, making use of a mechanism which allows individual Allies and partner countries to provide financial support for concrete projects 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 as executing agent. NATO conducted a C4 Feasibility Study to assess Ukraine's capabilities and needs based on 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 was delivered in September 2016.
Four projects have been agreed and are at various stages of implementation:
- 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 project will be implemented by Spring 2020 and a follow-up project to allow for continued support is under development.
- Secure Tactical Communications Project – to assist Allies in providing secure communications equipment to enhance Ukraine's capabilities for secure command and control and situational awareness for its armed forces. The project has been implemented, providing a resilient communications capability at the tactical level. A follow-up project to provide additional equipment is under development.
- Knowledge Sharing – to provide NATO subject-matter expertise, documentation, training, standards, best practices, mentoring and advice to C4 project teams and subject-matter experts in Ukraine. The first phase of this project has been finalised and a follow-up project is currently being implemented.
- Situational Awareness (SA) – to provide a reference for the implementation of NATO standards, software SA tools (JOCWatch, JCHAT, iGeoSit), procedures as well as support through mentoring and subject-matter experts for Ukrainian capability development.
Trust Fund on Logistics and Standardization
This Trust Fund aims to support the ongoing reform of Ukraine's logistics and standardization systems for the armed forces as well as other national military formations, including the National Guard and the State Border Security Service, as appropriate.
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 Planning and Review Process, Joint Working Group on Defence Technical Cooperation and Joint Working Group on Defence Reform.
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
This Trust Fund, led by Romania, aimed to help Ukraine develop strictly defensive, technical capabilities to counter cyber threats. Assistance included the establishment of an incident management centre for monitoring cyber security incidents and laboratories to investigate cyber security incidents. The project was completed in 2017. Current efforts focus on identifying follow-up activities in the area of cyber defence.
Trust Fund on Medical Rehabilitation
This Trust Fund aims to ensure that patients – active and discharged Ukrainian servicemen and women and civilian personnel from the defence and security sector – have rapid access to appropriate care. Furthermore, it seeks to support Ukraine in enhancing its medical rehabilitation system to ensure that long-term sustainable services are provided.
The project, led by Bulgaria and executed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), started in 2015 and runs over 48 months.
As of May 2018, the medical rehabilitation of 270 servicemen has been supported and 15 servicemen have been provided with prostheses. Support to an additional 100 servicemen will be provided in 2018-2019. Moreover, 13 servicemen from the defence ministry have benefited from vocational rehabilitation services. Another 148 former servicemen and 140 civilians/internally displaced persons from the Donbas have accessed rehabilitation through sport. In partnership with the NATO-sponsored project on resettling former military personnel, more than 6,000 former servicemen have benefited from psychological support services. In 2017, support was also provided for Ukraine to participate at their first Invictus Games.
Five medical rehabilitation units in hospitals have received appropriate equipment to improve the quality of services. The first occupational therapy kitchen in Ukraine, the first modern rehabilitation swimming pool and the first wheelchair workshop in a governmental institution were delivered in 2016. More than 2,200 Ukrainian physical and psychological professionals from the medical rehabilitation sector, both from government and non-governmental organisations, have benefitted from professional development activities. Since March 2018, the Trust Fund is also supporting the development of internationally recognised academic curricula for prosthetists/orthotists and orthopaedic technologists, professions newly recognised in 2016.
Trust Fund on Military Career Transition
This Trust Fund, led by Norway, assists Ukraine in developing and implementing a sustainable, effective and integrated approach to the resettlement of military personnel embedded in the personnel management of the armed forces.
The project aims to increase understanding among Ukrainian officials of the main organisational and managerial concepts of social adaptation systems, and develop their professional skills. It will also help define parameters for the assistance for resettlement within the armed forces through a combination of seminars, workshops, study tours and analytical surveys.
Trust Fund on Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and Countering Improvised Explosive Devices (C-IED)
This Trust Fund, led by Slovakia, directly supports specific selected recommendations in the NATO EOD and C-IED Assistance Plan to Ukraine. The project selectively supports civil humanitarian activities in the clearance of explosive hazards, including IEDs. It will assist in setting the foundations for transformation of EOD and development of C-IED in Ukraine based on NATO policy and practice, particularly regarding multi-agency cooperation. Three primary initiatives covering doctrine, interoperability and civil support will be initiated over a two-year period, starting in summer 2018.
Helping Ukraine implement its defence reform objectives is also a key focus of military-to-military cooperation, complementing the work carried out under the Joint Working Group on Defence Reform and the Planning and Review Process 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. These exercises allow military personnel to gain hands-on experience in working with forces from NATO countries and other partners. Ukraine is part of the Partnership Interoperability Initiative, launched at the 2014 Wales Summit, which aims to maintain the levels of interoperability developed by international forces serving in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (2003-2014).
An important part of practical military-to-military cooperation is carried out under the Military Committee with Ukraine Work Plan, making use of the educational, training, exercise, assistance, and advisory activities which NATO offers to partner countries. The Military Partnerships Directorate of Allied Command Operations is responsible for the Work Plan's implementation. All these activities focus on improving the interoperability and reinforcing the operational capabilities of Ukraine's armed forces, but also substantially contribute to ongoing security and defence reform.
Ukraine's active participation in the NATO Operational Capabilities Concept Evaluation and Feedback Programme supports the further development of the armed forces, while also enabling the Alliance to put together tailored force packages that can be deployed in support of NATO-led operations and missions.
The military side has also taken the lead in developing a legal framework to enable NATO and Ukraine to further develop operational cooperation:
- A Partnership for Peace (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).
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.
Defence technical cooperation
Defence technical cooperation focuses on enhancing the 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. Since December 2014, Ukraine’s participation in the CNAD and its substructure has been taking place in the context of the Interoperability Platform. 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 on the basis of a Roadmap on Defence Technical Cooperation. 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).
- Cooperation in the framework of the CNAD and with the NATO Science and Technology Organization.
- Sharing of expertise in the area of life cycle management, with Ukraine having hosted a related workshop in July 2019.
- Ukraine's participation in NATO's Smart Defence projects, including “Malware Information Sharing Platform”, “NATO Multinational Cyber defence education and training”, “Flexible and interoperable Toolbox meeting the future operational requirements in confined and shallow waters”, and “Female Leaders in Security and Defence”.
- Support provided to Ukraine in the modernisation of their defence industry.
- Continued use and enhancement of the Air Situation Data Exchange (ASDE) programme.
Civil preparedness remains an important driver of NATO cooperation with Ukraine. Since the start of the 2014 crisis in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, it has been at the forefront of Alliance solidarity and support. In April 2014, a team of civil experts visited Kyiv to provide advice on Ukraine's contingency plans and crisis-management measures related to critical energy infrastructure and civil protection risks.
Today, NATO-Ukraine cooperation in the area of civil preparedness focuses on improving national capacity for civil preparedness and resilience in facing hybrid threats through the exchange of lessons learned, best practices and the provision of expert advice.
Ukraine is also a regular participant in disaster preparedness and response exercises organised by the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC). Ukraine already hosted three such exercises in 2000, 2005 and 2015. The 2015 EADRCC exercise – which was inaugurated by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and President Petro Poroshenko – was one of the largest field exercises organised by the EADRCC, with over 1,100 participants from 26 Allies and partner countries.
NATO's 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, practical cooperation with Ukraine in the field of security-related civil science and technology has been further enhanced.
Today, 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. SPS activities also deal with human and social aspects of security, such as the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security; support the development of advanced technologies with security applications; and assist with the detection and clearance of mines and unexploded ordnance. Many current activities help Ukraine to deal with the negative effects of the crisis, engaging Allied and Ukrainian scientists and experts in meaningful, practical cooperation, forging networks and supporting capacity-building in the country.
Through tailored capability and capacity-building measures, the SPS Programme provided support to the Comprehensive Assistance Package (CAP) for Ukraine, endorsed at the 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw. One important project assisted Ukraine in the area of humanitarian demining by enhancing the capacity of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SESU) in undertaking demining operations in eastern parts of the country. Through this project, the SPS Programme was also able to immediately respond to an urgent request for equipment following the Balaklia Arms Depot explosion in Ukraine in March 2017. Moreover, an ongoing multi-year initiative for the development of a 3D mine detector will ensure the sustainability of the activities.
The Programme also helped to build capacity in the sphere of telemedicine and paramedicine in the framework of the CAP. As part of the project, two paramedic centres in Ukraine were equipped and 30 Ukrainian paramedics took part in a 'train-the-trainer' course in Romania. During the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre's (EADRCC) field exercise in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in 2017, the telemedicine capabilities were successfully live-tested, allowing medical specialists to engage in disasters or incidents across national borders. The project has now been brought to a successful completion.
Ukrainian experts are also involved in a significant new SPS initiative developing innovative technologies for the stand-off detection of explosives, a project that is contributing to NATO's enhanced role in the international fight against terrorism. Ukraine is a key contributor to the SPS flagship programme DEXTER (Detection of EXplosives and firearms to counter TERrorism) along with eight Allies and partner countries developing an integrated system that can detect explosives and firearms in public places, remotely and in real time without disrupting the flow of pedestrians.
Since 2014, Ukraine has been the largest beneficiary of the SPS Programme in line with the Allies’ decision to intensify cooperation with Ukraine. As a result, in the past five years, a total of 69 SPS activities with Ukraine as leading partner were launched, with Ukrainian scientists and experts participating in a number of additional SPS-supported projects or workshops as researchers or speakers. In 2019, Ukraine remains the lead partner with 32 ongoing SPS projects, which represents 17 per cent of the overall SPS Programme.
The importance of the SPS cooperation programme with Ukraine was highlighted, in November 2018, at NATO Headquarters, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the NATO Science Programme. A Ukrainian professor of the National Academy of Science received the SPS Partnership Prize for the Compact Sensor for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Project.
(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 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.
NATO also provides advisory and funding support to building the capacity of the Ukrainian authorities in public diplomacy, media relations and strategic communications. In particular, NATO supported the Ukraine Crisis Media Centre and the Kyiv Post newspaper in their efforts to provide an accurate and factual coverage of events 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 more structured and long-term advice, training support and expertise in the area of strategic communications.
As part of the Annual National Programme, NATO and Ukraine have conducted legal dialogues, at the expert level, in 2015 and 2016, to ensure that their mutually agreed activities are supported by a proper legal framework. Topics of discussion have included the status of the NATO Representation in Kyiv; the ongoing implementation of the SOFA Agreement; the delivery of Science for Peace and Security Trust Fund projects in Ukraine; and other topics of mutual interest.
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 NUC can meet at various levels, including heads of state and government, ministers of foreign affairs or defence, ambassadors and in various working-level formats.
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. The responsibility for implementation falls primarily on Ukraine and is coordinated by the office of the Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, who also chairs Ukraine’s Commission for Cooperation with NATO. Through the ANP process, Allies encourage Ukraine to take the reform process forward vigorously 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. They include the Joint Working Group on Defence Reform (JWGDR), the Joint Working Group on Defence Technical Cooperation (JWGDTC), the Joint Working Group on Scientific and Environmental Cooperation (JWGSEC) and the Joint Working Group on Civil Emergency Planning (JWGCEP).
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 foreign ministry, defence ministry, National Security and Defence Council, and other Ukrainian agencies. The NATO Representation to Ukraine leads on the provision of strategic-level advice under NATO’s Comprehensive Assistance Package for Ukraine.
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 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 relations, identifies areas for consultation and cooperation, and establishes the NATO-Ukraine Commission.
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. 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", stressing the importance of respect for free and fair elections.
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.
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.
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 a vessel in support of Operation Active Endeavour. This is followed by a second deployment in the 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).
December 2008: The first Air Situation Data Exchange (ASDE) connection between Command Post Air Command West in L’viv and the NATO Command and Reporting Centre in Veszprem, Hungary becomes operational.
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 foreign ministers' meeting in December 2008.
February 2010: The new Ukrainian government under President Viktor Yanukovych decides to continue present cooperation with NATO. However, Alliance membership for the country is taken off the agenda.
May 2010: A memorandum of understanding on Air Situation Data Exchange (ASDE) 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.
November 2012: The second ASDE connection between Command Post Air Command South in Odesa and the NATO Command and Reporting Centre in Erzurum, Turkey becomes operational.
February 2013: NUC defence ministers agree to reinforce NATO-Ukraine cooperation, including in training and exercises; retraining of former military officers in Ukraine; and the neutralisation of radioactive sources from former Soviet military sites. Ukraine becomes the first partner country to contribute to NATO’s counter-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia, Operation Ocean Shield.
December 2013: NATO foreign ministers discuss developments in Ukraine. In a statement, they condemn the use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrators in Ukraine and call on all parties to refrain from provocations and violence.
March 2014: 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. In a statement, the North Atlantic Council states that it considers the so-called referendum held on 16 March in Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea to be both illegal and illegitimate, urging Russian to de-escalate the situation, including by ceasing all military activities against Ukraine.
April 2014: NUC foreign ministers meet in Brussels. In their joint statement they are united in their condemnation of Russia’s illegal military intervention in Ukraine, stating that they do not recognise Russia’s illegal and illegitimate “annexation” and calling on Russia to reverse it.
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.
4-5 September 2014: At the NATO Summit in Wales, 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 to further reinforce support for Ukraine, including substantial new programmes to be based on Trust Funds.
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. NATO 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 indicates 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 escalation of violence in the country and says that NATO will continue its strong political and practical support for Ukraine.
13 May 2015: In Antalya, Turkey, NUC foreign ministers reaffirm their firm support for 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. An agreement is signed to formalise the diplomatic status of NATO’s Representation in Ukraine.
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.
17 December 2015: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko visits NATO Headquarters for a bilateral meeting with NATO’s Secretary General 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 defence reform in Ukraine.
11 March 2016: Following its ratification by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the Agreement between NATO and the Government of Ukraine on the Status of the NATO Representation to Ukraine enters into force.
15 June 2016: NATO defence ministers agree to boost NATO’s support for Ukraine with a Comprehensive Assistance Package, 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 Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko meet at NATO Headquarters 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 Agreements.
15 November 2016: At a meeting of the NUC at NATO Headquarters, 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.
7 December 2016: The NUC meets at the level of foreign ministers at NATO Headquarters to discuss Russia’s continued aggressive actions, the importance of implementing the Minsk Agreements and NATO’s enduring support for Ukraine.
9 February 2017: Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman meets NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller at NATO Headquarters. In a joint press conference, she underlines the deep concern over the recent spike in violence in eastern Ukraine and the continued strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, which had been expressed by all Allies during a special meeting of the NUC the previous evening. She also commends Ukraine for continuing on the path of reform and anti-corruption despite these very difficult circumstances.
31 March 2017: At a meeting of the NUC at NATO Headquarters, Allied foreign ministers reaffirm their strong support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, and review NATO’s ongoing political and practical support to the country. Ministers welcome the opening in Kharkiv of a rehabilitation facility for wounded service personnel, paid for by NATO’s Medical Rehabilitation Trust Fund. Several Allies also announce that they will offer assistance to Ukraine following the explosions at the Balaklia arms depot.
8 June 2017: The Ukrainian parliament votes to restore NATO membership as the country's strategic foreign policy objective, passing a bill to amend Ukrainian laws on national security and internal and foreign policies.
9-10 July 2017: The North Atlantic Council visits Ukraine to mark the 20th anniversary of the Distinctive Partnership between NATO and Ukraine. The NATO Ambassadors take part in a meeting of the NUC, hosted by President Poroshenko. During the two-day visit, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has bilateral meetings with the President, the Prime Minister and other senior officials. As the first NATO Secretary General to do so, he also addresses the plenary of the Verkhovna Rada -- the Ukrainian Parliament -- with a speech on NATO’s support for Ukraine’s independence and the country’s reform path in line with Euro-Atlantic principles.
18-19 April 2018: At the invitation of Chief of Defence of the General Staff General Viktor Muzhenko, the Military Committee (MC) pays a two-day visit to Ukraine (Lviv). The main aim of this visit is to provide the Military Committee with first-hand knowledge of the state of progress in defence reform in the Ukrainian Armed Forces and to underline NATO’s steady support for Ukraine. Apart from holding a meeting of the MC in Permanent Session with Ukraine, the visit provides an opportunity for the MC to enhance military-to-military relations with the Ukrainian Armed Forces; to witness military training; and to engage with the multinational training group members.
12 July 2018: Following a meeting of Allied leaders with the Presidents of Ukraine and Georgia at the Brussels Summit, the Allies release a statement reiterating their commitment to the Distinctive Partnership with Ukraine. They underline their unwavering support for the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, and its right to decide on its future and foreign policy course free from outside interference.
26-27 November 2018: The NATO-Ukraine Commission meets to discuss Russia’s use of military force against Ukraine near the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait. The following day, NATO Allies release a statement calling on Russia to ensure unhindered access to Ukrainian ports and allow freedom of navigation. They underline that there can be no justification for Russia's use of military force against Ukrainian ships and sailors and condemn the building of the Kerch Straight bridge.
4 December 2018: NATO Foreign Ministers meet with the Foreign Ministers of Georgia and Ukraine to address the security situation in the Black Sea region and the Alliance’s support for both nations.
13 December 2018: President Petro Poroshenko meets NATO’s Secretary General to discuss heightened tensions in and around the Sea of Azov.
6 March 2019: The NATO-Ukraine Commission meets at NATO Headquarters to discuss the current situation in Crimea, five years after Russia’s illegal annexation.
4 June 2019: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits NATO Headquarters for bilateral talks with NATO’s Secretary General as well as a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission focused on the security situation in the country.
30-31 October 2019: The members of the North Atlantic Council pay a two-day visit to Ukraine to demonstrate the Alliance’s continuing support for the country. They visit Odesa and take part in a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission in Kyiv, where the Secretary General also addresses the Ukrainian parliament.