Ukrainian Military Reform: Can the Armed Forces Escape Their Soviet Past?

The Jamestown Foundation is proud to present a virtual roundtable, “Ukrainian Military Reform: Can the Armed Forces Escape Their Soviet Past?” on Thursday, March 25 at 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM. 

Russia’s forcible annexation of Crimea and sparking of a war in Donbas in 2014 jolted the Ukrainian military establishment and pushed the country to set NATO membership as a strategic goal. Yet despite years of political, military and financial support from its Western partners, Ukraine’s Armed Forces continue to lag in terms of where their capabilities and level of reforms could be expected at this point. As a Soviet-era officer corps reasserts its influence over the high command and expanding bureaucracy reaches levels not seen since before the outbreak of the war, these developments not only undermine crucial Ukrainian military reforms but also endanger Ukraine’s European integration as well as damage troop morale on the front lines. By facing Russia militarily in Donbas and elsewhere, Ukraine argues it is expending its own blood and treasure to protect US allies like Poland and the Baltics, and ultimately the United States itself. However, by failing to complete or undertake necessary reforms of its Armed Forces, Kyiv is actually increasing the risks by leading Moscow to calculate that the latter can afford to continue the war or even escalate it.

Please join us for a lively dialogue with four leading experts on the Ukrainian Armed Forces to evaluate the successes and failures of the reforms, discuss the political and technical challenges that exist, as well as examine related tactical and strategic issues facing Kyiv and its allies.


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The Jamestown Foundation Invites you to a Virtual Roundtable discussion featuring:

Volodymyr Havrylov 

Retired Major General, Ukrainian Armed Forces, and

Former Defense Attaché, Ukrainian Embassy to Washington

Glen Grant

Chief Operations Officer, World Trade Center Kyiv, and

Defense and Security Fellow, Baltic Security Foundation

Ihor Kabanenko

Retired Admiral, Ukrainian Navy, and

Former Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine

Mykola Vorobiov

Investigative and Military Correspondent

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Participant Biographies

Glen Grant is the Chief Operations Officer in the World Trade Center Kyiv. In a secondary role, he is Fellow of the Baltic Security Foundation as a security and defense expert. Prior to working in the WTC, he worked in the Ukrainian Institute for the Future, writing on defense issues, supporting the Ukrainian Parliamentary Defense Committee, and providing leadership and moral support for army officers, NGOs and defense volunteers. He is also a Senior Fellow in the UK Institute for Statecraft. Glen has his home in Riga and regularly lectures at the Riga Business School in Crisis Management.

Major General (ret.) Volodymyr Havrylov served as Defense Attaché at the Ukrainian Embassy to the United States in 2015–2018. He is currently a Director of the Veterans Dozen Foundation and serves on the Board of Advisors to the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation.

Ihor Kabanenko is a retired admiral with the Ukrainian Navy. From 1983 to 1990, he served in the Soviet 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 Defense, and from August to October 2014—as Deputy Minister of Defense 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 defense.

Mykola Vorobiov is a Ukrainian political, investigative and military correspondent. Since the Russian annexation of Crimea and further incursion into eastern Ukraine, Mykola spent over seven months covering the most dramatic developments on the front line. During his work, he had many chances to interview captured separatists, Russian mercenaries and regular troops. He was formerly an Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School for Advanced and International Studies (SAIS), Washington, DC.

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