20180709 флаг НАТО УкраинаDefense Express has a talk with Mr. Alexander Vinnikov, Head of the NATO Representation to Ukraine. His answer on our questions about Trust Funds, defence reform and challenges for Ukraine you can find in exclusive interview bellow.

- Currently, there are 8 NATO TFs in Ukraine. Which Trust Funds are functioning and in which institutions? What are the outcomes of Trust Funds activities for all period of time of exist in Ukraine?

- NATO’s support for Ukraine makes a real difference. Indeed, we currently have 8 Trust Funds, through which NATO Allies and partners have pledged nearly 40 million euros to support Ukraine, and two more, which have Ukraine among its primary beneficiaries.

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Mr. Alexander Vinnikov, Head of the NATO Representation to Ukraine

The outcomes of our activities are tangible and visible. For instance, our Medical Rehabilitation Trust Fund is helping wounded servicemen and servicewomen get the treatment they need, and helping medical rehabilitation institutions across Ukraine with modern equipment. Our Cyber Defence Trust Fund is helping to strengthen Ukraine’s resilience to cyber-attacks. And our Defence Education Programme has trained over 1,000 Ukrainian instructors.

In the framework of the Command, Control, Communications, and Computers (C4) Trust Fund we are also supporting a Regional Airspace Security Programme, to help Ukraine better handle air security incidents. We are also working to provide Ukraine with satellite communications equipment.
These are just a few examples. We are committed to help Ukraine better defend itself and implement needed reforms.

- For a long time, there were complaints that Ukraine did not have an appropriate state structure, which would take over coordinating functions for TFs, and also those advisers’ recommendations were not taken into account. Has the situation changed now? How is the cooperation going today, and how much control over the spending of the financial resources allocated by partners is implemented?
- Trust Funds are voluntary, nationally led and funded projects established within the framework of the NATO Partnership for Peace Trust Fund policy. They focus on security and defence-related projects. In partner countries, and Ukraine is no exception, the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) has acted as the executing agent in most of the Trust Fund projects, leveraging project management, commercial and expert technical skills available within the Agency, as well as strong links to Ukrainian institutions. Apart from that, the effective use of resources is regularly assessed by the respective Trust Funds’ lead nations. Our advisers provide their inputs and offer their recommendations on how to make these activities more effective.

- How do you assess the cooperation with Ukraine at this stage (within Trust Funds?). What should be improved? In general, are you satisfied as Head of NRU with the level of cooperation under the current conditions?
- Trust Funds are an important part of NATO’s Comprehensive Assistance Package (CAP) for Ukraine, endorsed at the NATO Warsaw Summit in 2016. In the CAP we have also broadened the scope of our capacity-buliding programmes. Thus, we are helping Ukraine with the professional development of civil servants in the security sector, with the social adaptation of military service leavers, and with efforts to build integrity in the security and defence sector. Also Allies provide support in helping to modernise the Defence Educational system and build Strategic Communications capacity.

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Last year, during the visit of the North Atlantic Council to Kyiv, Allies reviewed the implementation of the CAP and welcomed progress in the 40 tailored support measures. Currently we are preparing a review of the CAP, to further align it to Ukraine’s reform objectives as laid out in its Annual National Programme (ANP).

- Over the past 3 years, Ukraine adopted a whole list of strategic documents with relevance for its Euro-Atlantic integration (Military Doctrine, SDB, State Program for the armed forces Development by 2020, and soon the National Security Law). Do these documents correspond to NATO criteria for defence and security reform? Do they correspond to the challenges and threats Ukraine faces? How do you assess the reforms of defense and security of Ukraine at all?
- As you know, in 2016 Ukraine took the very significant step of adopting a comprehensive roadmap for defence reform – the SDB. NRU Advisers contributed to its development and now to its implementation. We are actively involved in the work of the Defence Reform Committee and its many Working Groups.
Over the past two years, we have seen progress in many areas of defence reform. The main focus last year was to set the ground rules and to develop concepts and other guiding documents. In parallel, new structures were established in the Ministry of Defence and in the General Staff. We noted particular progress in such areas like capability-based planning, implementation of a Unified Medical Command, and significant improvements in the training and development of Non-Commissioned Officers

At the same time many challenges remain in order to move from designing and planning reforms to actually implementing them in practice. For instance, not all new departments and units are yet fully staffed with the right trained and experienced personnel. NATO’s key instrument for assisting Ukraine on the path of reform– the assessments of the Annual National Programme and of the Partnership for Peace Planning and Review Process – provide Allied guidance and expertise to help overcome such challenges.

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From NATO’s perspective 2018 is a crucial year for the overall reform process in Ukraine. Ukraine’s key overarching goal is to establish effective civilian control of the armed forces and democratic oversight over the security and defence sector as a whole. One of the next important steps for reform will be the adoption of a Law on National Security. It is a fundamental element that will provide the required legislative framework necessary for implementation of virtually all areas of security and defence reform. The draft law adopted by the Verkhovna Rada contained key provisions in line with our advice regarding Euro-Atlantic standards and principles. We hope that these key principles will be maintained in the Law’s final version, as this will be good for Ukraine’s ability to provide for its own security and to enhance interoperability with the Alliance (DE comments - the conversation with Mr. Alexander Vinnikov was before the Law on National Security was adopted as a whole). Another key step on Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic path will be the reform of its security and intelligence institutions, including the Security Service of Ukraine .

As for defence reform, in the past two years Ukraine’s armed forces have come a long way. Their tactical and technical capabilities have increased significantly, and they continue to benefit from training and equipping programmes from a number of NATO Allies. The Ministry of Defence has also done laudable work on practical issues that required prompt solutions. But for Ukraine to become more secure, the focus should firmly remain on the systemic, comprehensive, institutional approaches needed to make reforms sustainable and irreversible.

Speaking more generally, from NATO’s perspective Ukraine’s remarkable ongoing reform effort should of course not be limited to the security and defence sector but should also encompass all key spheres including – amongst others - anti-corruption, the rule of law, and electoral reform.

- Recently Poroshenko raised an issue of referendum on NATO in Ukraine. How can this initiative influence the position of NATO Allies towards Ukraine, if implemented?
NATO's policy remains the same. NATO has an open door policy on membership, based on Art. 10 of the Washington Treaty, according to which any European country, which subscribes to the principles of this Treat and contribute to security in the Euro-Atlantic area can apply for NATO membership. Any decision on membership would be for Ukraine and for the 29 NATO Allies.

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Ukraine is focusing on key reforms at this time. And NATO is providing support to these efforts. This is the priority. We are supporting Ukraine’s ongoing efforts to meet NATO standards, to be better able to defend itself and to increase the ability of Ukrainian and NATO forces to work together. And NATO supports Ukrainian efforts to strengthen democracy and the rule of law. It is important that the focus remains on reforms.

The Annual National Program is the main instrument for Ukraine to advance the reforms necessary to implement its Euro-Atlantic aspirations. The ANP is structured in the same way as the Membership Action Plan and it is based on the NATO Study on Enlargement. We are working together to help Ukraine make the best use of this important instrument.

Interviewed by Anton Mikhnenko, UDR, Defense Express

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