World’s largest demilitarization project boosts industry in Ukraine

  • 08 Apr. 2013 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 24 Apr. 2013 14:45

The NATO-Partnership Trust Fund project for the destruction of conventional munitions, small arms, light weapons and landmines in Ukraine is making significant progress, but future funding remains a challenge. The project, which was the focus of a conference in the capital Kyiv on 8 April, is helping address the potential threat posed by Ukraine’s large stocks of old and obsolete weapons and ammunition accumulated since the Second World War. It has also boosted Ukrainian industry and created 110 jobs.

Jointly organised by Ukraine and the NATO Support Agency (NSPA), the event was attended by representatives of the United States as the lead nation of the project, NATO and partner countries and Ukrainian government agencies and state-owned enterprises involved in the execution of the project, as well as international organisations and the media.

Deputy Director General of state-owned arms industry conglomerate Ukroboronprom, Tetiana Khrypko, underlined the fact that the implementation of the NATO-Partnership Trust Fund project in Ukraine not only provides for the destruction of surplus munitions, small arms and light weapons, but also gives a boost to Ukrainian industry. “With the help of NATO funding, a number of Ukrainian companies were able to modernise their equipment,” she explained, adding that Ukrainian companies involved in the project now have the capacity to safely destroy some 100 000 tons of munitions a year.

Funding remains a challenge

Dr Bulent Tudes, the NSPA Programme Manager in charge of the project, stated that “works under the project have proceeded as scheduled thus far.” However, he cautioned that further funding would be required to be able to keep up this pace. “We would require an extra funding of €4 million before the end of the year. Should these funds be lacking, my concern is that enterprises involved in the project will find themselves in difficulty to maintain the current staff and keep the equipment running.”

Steven Costner, Deputy Director of the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement at the US Department of State, underlined that the lack of financial support for the implementation of project is due to the fact that the number of donor countries has gone down. “During the first phase of the project, donors were eighteen, while at the second phase of the project we have, so far, just seven donors, including Norway, which made its contribution to Ukraine on a bilateral basis,” he said.

Calling for more donors, Costner added that completing the second stage of Ukraine’s demilitarization project would require an overall budget of €25 million.

Destroying dangerous stocks

The Trust Fund project was launched in 2006, following a request for assistance from the Ukrainian government. It aims to dismantle 133 000 tons of obsolete munitions, one and a half million surplus small arms and light weapons and three million PFM-1-type anti-personnel mines in four stages over a 12-year period.

The first phase of this project was successfully completed in early 2012. It saw the safe destruction of 15 000 tons of munitions, 400 000 small arms and light weapons and 1000 man-portable air defence systems with international financial support equalling €10.8 million.

Under the second phase of the project, which started in April 2012 and is due to be completed over four years, 73 500 tons of conventional munitions, 366 000 small arms and three million PFM-1 landmines are earmarked for destruction.

Works under the second phase are being executed at the following state-owned enterprises and facilities: Ukroboronleasing, located in Kamyanets’-Podils’kyi; the Demilitarization Center of Ukroboronservice, which comes under the umbrella of Ukroboronprom and is situated in v. Hrechany in Khmelnytskyi region; the National Chemical Product Research Institute in Shostka; and two chemical plants in Donetsk and Pavlograd.