Engagement with Ukraine
The United States seeks to help Ukraine preserve its independence and
sovereignty, fulfill its legitimate security needs, and play a constructive
role in regional political, military, and economic stability. Ukraine’s
long border with Russia and the important and complex—albeit sometimes
problematic—relations between them must be taken into account in our
overall strategy toward Ukraine. However, we must keep in mind the important
differences between the two and not base our policies toward one on the
presumed reaction of the other. Indeed, we do not regard our
relations with these countries as a “zero sum” game, wherein efforts
to help Ukraine move closer to Euro-Atlantic structures must come at the
expense of parallel efforts with Russia. If anything, the opposite is true:
our efforts with each should be mutually reinforcing.
In the security realm, U.S. strategy focuses on helping Ukraine re-structure
its forces to make them increasingly interoperable with NATO and other
Partners. In this regard we want to assist Ukraine in carrying out needed
reforms of its defense establishment. These include the insti-tutionalization
and effective practice of civilian control over the military and greater
openness in the military establishment as a whole. In addi-tion, Ukraine’s
defense establishment must be sized and resourced in a realistic manner
that reflects a comprehensive assessment of Ukraine’s security environment
and is consistent with its overall national priori-ties of economic reform
To achieve these goals, we are proceeding on a bilateral track that involves
a range of activities agreed by USCINCEUR and the Ukrainian Chief of Defense
- Bringing together senior U.S. and Ukrainian commanders and their staffs
to discuss issues such as the appropriate roles and responsibilities of
the defense ministry and general staff in a manner that promotes effective
- Providing military education and training enhancements for Ukrainian
officers and non-commissioned officers. This includes Ukrainian participation
in courses at the George C. Marshall Center in Garmisch, Germany and at
Harvard University’s “Generals’ Program.” This also involves sending U.S.
teams to Ukraine for short-term programs (e.g., on civil-military affairs,
military medicine, and air defense) or bringing Ukrainian military personnel
to the United States (e.g., for familiarization with U.S. military education
methods and technologies.)
- Supporting Ukraine’s force contributions to SFOR and KFOR. Through
joint planning and the conduct of live exercises, we are help-ing Ukraine
to learn U.S. and NATO-compatible procedures and skills that will improve
its capabilities to participate in such NATO-led crisis response operations.
Under our State Partnership Program, U.S. National Guard units from California
and Kansas conduct training and exercises on civil-military emergency preparedness
border troops, internal troops, and Ministry of Emergency units.
- Maintaining a Military Liaison Team in Kiev, with representatives from
EUCOM and the National Guard State Partnership Program, to facilitate continuous
dialogue and a robust military to military exchange program.
At the same time, the United States is working closely with Ukraine,
under the Expanded Threat Reduction Initiative, to strengthen cooperation
in the area of non-proliferation. Our efforts include improved training
for border security and customs personnel and assistance to redirect the
expertise of Ukrainian weapon scientists to work on peaceful scientific
and engineering projects, such as improved safety and security for civilian
nuclear installations and managing the environmental and health consequences
of the Chernobyl disaster.
Our bilateral efforts are complemented by those of NATO, which reached
agreement with Ukraine in 1997 on a Charter on a Distinctive Partnership.
The Charter established a NATO-Ukraine Commission that meets at least twice
a year for consultations on subjects such as peacekeeping, technical cooperation
on armaments, economic and environmental aspects of defense-related
activities, civil-military emergency planning, and combating terrorism
and drug trafficking. The NATO-Ukraine relationship has also been enhanced
considerably by the establishment of a NATO Information and Documentation
Center as well as a Military Liaison Office in Kiev.
We also seek to encourage closer multilateral engagement between Ukraine
and its regional neighbors. For example, Poland and Ukraine recently have
formed a joint peacekeeping battalion, which has been deployed to KFOR.
This unprecedented arrangement between a new NATO Ally and a Partner is
a hopeful example of how the NATO enlargement process and PfP can work
hand in hand to improve security and stability in Europe.
Ukraine, of course, must do its part. In particular, our efforts to
assist Ukraine in its desire to move closer to integration with the transatlantic
community will not succeed if its government is unable or unwilling to
implement needed defense reforms and, more broadly, vital economic and
political reforms to free up markets and combat corruption.