Ukraine’s Security Challenges in the East and Military Reform

On July 27, 2015, The Jamestown Foundation hosted former Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Defense, Admiral Ihor Kabanenko, and Vice President of Kyiv-based high-technology firm KM Core, Bohdan Kupych. The two men discussed the state of reforms in the Ukrainian military, the role of high-technology development in Ukraine’s defense industrial sector, and the developing security environment in and around Russian-occupied Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Admiral Kabanenko stressed that since the Maidan revolution, Ukrainian civil society and government rhetoric has been pushing hard to reduce corruption in all aspects of political and economic life, but corruption still remains a major problem, including in the Armed Forces. Due to its relative size and substantially smaller resource base, Ukraine needs a high-technology advantage in order to win on the battlefield—and such technology includes both physical products and changes in mentality. During the question-and-answer session with the audience, the point was made that Ukraine—though it did not ask for the war with Russia—is currently a laboratory for how to fight the next war; and this is an export of sorts that the Ukrainian leadership needs to think about. Finally, the speakers talked about the progress that has been made in incorporating the volunteer battalions into the regular Ukrainian military and National Guard, as well as on the subject of Russia’s likely next steps against the strategic port city of Mariupol.


Admiral Ihor Kabanenko (ret.)
Former Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Defense


Evgeni Utkin
Chairman, KM Core

Bohdan Kupych
Vice President, Business Development, KM Core

Moderated by

Glen E. Howard
President, The Jamestown Foundation

Wednesday, July 15, 2015
2:00 P.M.–4:00 P.M.

The Jamestown Foundation
Seventh Floor Conference Room
1111 Sixteenth Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20036

Participant Biographies

Admiral Ihor Kabanenko (ret.)

Ihor Kabanenko (born 1960) graduated with distinction from the Black Sea Higher Naval College (1983, Sevastopol), Higher Naval Academy (1993, St. Petersburg), and National Defence University (2002, Kyiv). He attended the European Centre for Security Studies (2004), U.S. Defense Language Institute (2005), NATO Defence College (2006), and Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies (2008). He has a Ph.D. in the sphere of risk management and conflict resolution, received in 2012.

From 1983 to 1990, he served in the Navy in various positions up to Commander of the ship and Chief of Staff of Missile Ships Division. Since 1993, he served in the Ukrainian Armed Forces. He was appointed to the positions of Chief of Operations and Chief of Staff of the Ukrainian Navy, the Military Representative of Ukraine to NATO, Chief of Operations of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and the First Deputy Chief of Defence. He retired in 2013, with the rank of Admiral. From May to August 2014, Admiral Kabanenko served as the Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Defence, and from August to October 2014—as Deputy Minister of Defence of Ukraine for European Integration. Currently, he is the president of UA.RPA (Ukrainian Advanced Research Project Agency), which focuses on high-tech solutions and products for defence.

Admiral Kabanenko has been decorated by the Government of Ukraine (“Bogdan Khmelnitsky”, “For Military Service to Ukraine”), the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, as well as the California National Guard. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the New Westminster College, Canada.

Throughout his career, Admiral Kabanenko has concentrated much of his efforts on creating effective capabilities for the Ukrainian Navy and the Ukrainian Armed Forces, as well as building close relations with the North Atlantic Alliance and involving the Armed Forces of Ukraine in a number of NATO projects. He has participated and chaired numerous Ukrainian defense delegations to various countries and international organizations.

Evgeni Utkin

Evgeni Utkin is the chiarman of KM Core. Mr. Utkin is a successful entrepreneur and one of the pioneers and leaders of the high-tech industry in the CIS and Central and Eastern Europe. Having founded one of the first Ukrainian IT companies in post-Soviet times, he has taken his firm through the many growth phases, from founding the company in 1990, diversifying the business, entering new markets and geographies, creating an international company, M&A and IPO. Throughout this time, KM Core has maintained significant business partnerships with global technology leaders such as Intel, Oracle Cisco and Microsoft. Evgeni’s approach to business is accelerating “knowledge based businesses” and enterprise value-creation. Having combined his knowledge of doing business in CIS and CEE, with a global perspective of growing innovative and leading companies, he is acknowledged as a leader of Ukraine’s new, post-Soviet, generation of entrepreneurs. Today, KM Core is focused on four key business areas: IT, datacenter and cloud services; software engineering; semiconductor design; and nanotechnology. Mr. Utkin is also a notable philanthropist, very active in the promotion of Ukrainian culture through his support of art and music projects both in Ukraine and Europe.

Bohdan Kupych

Bohdan Kupych, a Canadian, has worked in the information technology, telecommunications and technology industries for 30 years, 22 of which have been in Ukraine, Russia, and Central and Eastern Europe.

Active in the international business community, he was a founding member and the first President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine and Board Member for more than ten years. Today, Mr. Kupych is Vice President of Business Development at KM Core a Kyiv-based technology investment company, responsible for business development and a portfolio of investments in IT services, datacenter, cloud computing, semiconductor design and nanotechnology. De Novo, a portfolio company, is the largest datacenter and cloud computing service provider in Ukraine. Mr. Kupych led the investment process of attracting Intel Capital and IFC as minority shareholders.

Previously, he was VP of Business Development at Sitronics, the largest high-tech company in the CIS and CEE and a key member of the IPO team, successfully listing the company on the London Stock Exchange in 2007. Before that, he held positions as CEO and VP of Business Development at Kvazar-Micro Corp.; Chief Marketing Officer at UMC, the leading mobile operator in Ukraine; and Country Director at Digital Equipment Corporation, the first major international IT company to enter Ukraine. Prior to moving to Ukraine, Mr. Kupych worked in business development and sales at Digital Equipment of Canada.

Mr. Kupych studied Political Science at York University in Toronto, attended executive programs at INSEAD and Haas Schools of Business, and holds a Graduate Diploma in Management and MBA from Athabasca University, in Canada. Mr. Kupych is an active supporter of the start-up community in Ukraine and a mentor at several Ukrainian incubators. He lectures on innovation and entrepreneurship at Lviv Business School. Mr. Kupych is a member of the Ukrainian Advisory Board of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and is a Supervisory Board Member of the Ukrainian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association.