|Updated: 16-Jul-2002||Background Information|
NATO and Ukraine - Distinctive Partners
On 9 July 2002, NATO and Ukraine will celebrate the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership. Since its signature in 1997, the Charter has allowed for in-depth political, military, economic, scientific, civil emergency and defence reform cooperation between NATO and Ukraine. This cooperation has not only reinforced Ukraine's standing as a key player in the Euro-Atlantic area, but has been a significant factor in consolidating overall regional stability and security. These fifth anniversary celebrations offer the opportunity to measure the considerable successes of NATO-Ukraine cooperation under the Charter to date, and identify areas for deeper cooperation in the evolving Euro-Atlantic security architecture, in which the Distinctive Partnership is developing.
Forging links with Ukraine
Ukraine lies at a pivotal geographic posi-tion, bridging Eastern and Western Europe, and sharing borders with two NATO Allies and Russia. This underlines the importance of a strong, independent, stable and democratic Ukraine as a cornerstone of Euro-Atlantic security.
In this context, and through the Distinctive Partnership, Ukraine is pursuing a policy of Euro-Atlantic integration and is continuing to make a significant contribution to Euro-Atlantic security as we all face new threats and challenges.
Immediately after its declaration of independence in 1991, Ukraine established cooperative relations with NATO. It became an active participant in the North At-lantic Cooperation Council (now the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council) and, in 1994, became the first country of the Commonwealth of Independent States to join the Partnership for Peace (PfP). While Ukraine continues to play an active role within PfP, the signing of the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership in 1997 signified a new beginning for NATO-Ukraine cooperation and stressed the importance of Ukraine's contribution to security and sta-bility in the Euro-Atlantic area. The Charter established the NATO-Ukraine Commission, a forum for discussing issues of common interest and ways of improving and further developing cooperation.
Cooperation is mutually beneficial: on the one hand, Ukraine is able to draw on NATO expertise to enhance, for instance, the management of its armed forces and to perfect civil emergency planning. NATO, on the other hand, benefits from Ukraine's contributions to peacekeeping efforts in the Balkans and its expertise in science. Ukraine's support for the fight against terrorism also led to the active involvement of Ukraine's military transport aviation for the deployment of Allied troops in Afghanistan.
The full range of cooperation activities extends to other areas such as defence re-form, interoperability, defence industry re-structuring, downsizing and conversion, the retraining of retired military officers for civilian jobs as well as educating active-duty officers and addressing scientific and environmental questions. The continuing qualitative development of each of these areas of cooperation is helping to bring Ukraine and the Euro-Atlantic community closer, step by step.
Developments in NATO-Ukraine cooperative activities led to the creation of a NATO Information and Documentation Centre in Kyiv to explain NATO's post-Cold War role and the benefits of the Distinctive Partner-ship to the Ukrainian public. In 1999, NATO also opened a Liaison Office in Kyiv to facilitate Ukraine's participation in the PfP and to support Ukrainian efforts in the area of defence reform.
Ukrainian peacekeepers in the Balkans
Ukraine has contributed significantly to NATO peacekeeping activities in the Balkans, helping to provide the necessary preconditions for a durable peace. In 1996, the first year of NATO's presence in Bosnia, Ukraine deployed an infantry battalion of 550 soldiers to work alongside NATO member and Partner countries. Ukraine later contributed a mechanised infantry battalion to the Stabilisation Force (SFOR) and made a helicopter squadron of ten heavy helicopters available, which involved a total of 400 soldiers and airmen.
During the Kosovo crisis, Ukraine made significant contributions to international peacekeeping activities by providing forces for the NATO-led force in Kosovo (KFOR) and by contributing a mechanised company and helicopter squadron. In July 2000, the newly-created Polish-Ukrainian battalion, with 267 personnel, was deployed to the region. Ukrainian participa-tion in these missions provide the country with valuable experience relevant to its military reform and increased involvement in shaping the security environment of the Euro-Atlantic region.
Facing challenges together
NATO-Ukraine cooperation under the Distinctive Partnership has been very successful. The measure of this success is perhaps the extent to which this coopera-tion has been able to identify and work on those areas in which Ukraine still needs to adjust and reform, if it is to consolidate its key role in the emerging Euro Atlantic security architecture.
Ukraine's defence establishment still faces further challenges and transformations if it is to meet fully the defence requirements of an independent and modern country. Cooperation in defence and security-sector reform is wide and farreaching. Its ultimate aim is to help Ukraine develop a modern, efficient, cost-effective defence establishment. Assisting Ukraine in meet-ing this objective is one of the most important areas of NATO-Ukraine cooperation and led to the establishment of the NATO-Ukraine Joint Working Group on Defence Reform. One of the most important contri-butions of this group is the joint effort to develop realistic, affordable planning tar-gets and timelines based on Ukrainian requirements. Using the PfP Planning and Review Process, this approach allows the clear identification of priorities linked to financial resources. Achievements, as well as problems, are now clearly visible.
Activities of the Joint Working Group also include managing the consequences of defence reform. This includes support in developing a civilian cadre for the Ukrain-ian Ministry of Defence and on-the-job training for Ukrainian personnel at NATO headquarters and in NATO capitals. As an additional contribution to the restructuring of Ukrainian Armed Forces, NATO has organised retraining programmes for military officers, including language instruction and courses on the management of defence planning, human resources, and defence conversion. NATO member states provide important support in these areas. Another key aspect of defence-reform cooperation is the identification of surplus munitions and weapons for safe destruction through initiatives such as a PfP Trust Fund project, which is to be opened in Donesk and aims to destroy 400,000 anti-personnel land mines.
Combating new threats to security, including terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, is another major challenge confronting the NATO-Ukraine partnership. The tragic terrorist attacks on the United States demonstrate that the world remains highly unstable and dangerous. Ukraine's support for the in-ternational campaign against terrorism was highlighted when it became the first partner country to openly declare its support of NATO's invocation of Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty, and when it opened its airspace to Allied aircraft in-volved in the anti-terrorist campaign in Afghanistan. In the new security environment, NATO and Ukraine face common challenges and have shown the determi-nation and capability to combat these challenges together. They will continue to do so in the future, working towards secur-ing greater peace and stability in the Euro Atlantic area through deeper cooperation on all levels.
Planning for civil emergencies
Planning how to respond to civil emer-gencies and to natural disasters is a less-known aspect of NATO's work but a crucial one. The aim of civil emergency planning is to prepare and coordinate national civilian resources and joint operational plans in response to crises. Cooperation in the field of civil emergency planning has grown to become the largest, non-military component of the Partnership for Peace Work Programme.
The disastrous flooding in Kharkiv in 1995 highlighted the need to strengthen NATO-Ukraine cooperation in the field of Civil Emergency Planning. In response to a request from the government of Ukraine, NATO countries immediately sent personnel and resources to the affected area. Consultations on the substance and extent of cooperation in the field of civil emergency planning has since become a regu-lar feature of Ukraine's cooperation programmes with NATO. In 1997, a Memorandum of Understanding on Civil Emergency Planning and Disaster Preparedness established this as a major area of NATO-Ukraine cooperation.
NATO and Ukraine have focused cooperation on practical dimensions of civil emer-gency planning through joint planning and exercises. This enables Ukraine to test its resources and apply expertise gained from past experiences with flooding and managing the Chernobyl catastrophe. Strengthening regional self-sufficiency in managing civil crises is recognised as a vital component of Ukrainian security.
In November 1998, NATO-Ukraine cooperation in civil emergency planning was again put to test when heavy rains led to extensive flooding in the Tisa river basin in Western Ukraine. Through previously successful PfP civil emergency planning activities, NATO and Partner countries were able to apply their knowledge and provide immediate and effective assistance to the flood-stricken area.
Cooperating in science and addressing the challenges of modern society
NATO has taken special interest in the field of science and seeks to improve trust and stability among the scientific community throughout the Euro-Atlantic region. By helping scientists work together and share scientific knowledge, relationships of trust and common understanding can be built that have benefits far beyond the scientific domain. As scientists work together, addressing the challenges of modern society, distinct opportunities arise that help improve the standard of living and quality of life in participating countries. Although originally designed for researchers from member countries, the programme has now expanded to bring together scien-tists from both NATO and Partner countries.
NATO offers several different forms of support through its science programme, ranging from providing assistance to specialists from Partner countries wishing to undertake research in NATO countries, to sponsorship of workshops and research projects aimed at creating enduring links between scientists from NATO and Partner countries. Through the Research Infrastructure Support Programme, NATO helps Partner countries set up the basic infrastructure required for scientific research and provides assistance in areas such as computer networking and science and technology policy and organisation. Recently, support activities have been broadened to include research in applied scientific and technological approaches to industrial activities and environmental problems. In addition, the Cooperative Science and Technology Programme is used to help national agencies find suitable partners in NATO member countries to conduct joint research, financed through national budgets, in the areas of solving cross-border environmental problems and cleaning up contaminated lands and ground water, to increasing environmental awareness in the armed forces.
Ukraine began cooperating with NATO under the Science Programme in 1991 and since then, over 500 grants have been awarded to Ukrainian scientists. These grants have provided numerous opportunities for these scientists and have resulted in several positive developments in both Ukraine and NATO member coun-tries.
A specific example of this positive scientific cooperation can be seen in the work of two researchers from Kyiv who have been working with their Canadian and German colleagues in the area of materials' science. This particular research area deals with high technology issues necessary for developments in the aerospace industry, fast computers, and bio-materials; scientific advancements in these technology sectors have unmistakable advantages for all countries. The Ukrainian researchers have benefited from the use of the advanced research facilities available in the laboratories of Canada and Germany while their Canadian and German colleagues have had the oppor-tunity to conduct research in Ukraine.
Bringing partnership to a new level
As the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Charter approaches, NATO remains committed to strengthening the Distinctive Partnership and to helping Ukraine achieve the key objective of ensuring it has the capabilities needed to work with NATO member and other Partner coun-tries in addressing common security challenges.
Allied and Ukrainian foreign ministers meeting in Reykjavik on 15 May underlined their desire to take the NATO-Ukraine relationship to a qualitatively new level by intensifying consultations and co-operation on political, economic and defence issues. To that end, ministers tasked the NATO-Ukraine Commission at ambassadorial level to explore and develop new mechanisms and modalities for a deepened and broader relationship, building on the Charter. The aim is to define a reinforced relationship by the time of the Prague Summit in November 2002.