Publication: Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 147

From July 15 to July 30, Ukraine hosted the Peace Shield-2001 military exercise at the Yavoriv training range in the Lviv Region. The range has the status of a NATO training center for peacekeeping troops. The exercise, in the framework of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, involved this year more than 1,100 personnel from some ten NATO member and partner countries. Generals from NATO and United States commands in the European theater, Defense Ministers Bronislaw Komorowski and Ioan Mircea Pascu–of NATO member Poland and aspirant country Romania, respectively–and other top officials attended various phases of the exercise. Ukraine’s Major-General Oleksandr Maslenchuk, deputy commander of the Western Operational Command of Ukrainian ground forces, was in overall charge.

This year’s exercise scenario focused on the joint planning of a peacekeeping operation by allied and partner countries under NATO command. Combined staff groups conducted U.S.-designed war games involving the successive phases of such an operation in the context of armed ethnic conflict in a European area. According to some reports, the area was specifically identified as Kosovo and the exercise was in some respects tailored to the situation there. The exercise culminated in a combat phase involving the joint Polish-Ukrainian battalion.

Part of that battalion, UKRPOLBAT, rotated to Kosovo directly after this exercise. At present, 325 Ukrainians and 367 Poles are deployed with the joint battalion in Kosovo under NATO command. While not a candidate for NATO membership, Ukraine is the only country with that status to maintain a joint military unit with a NATO member country. Poland functions as a connecting link between NATO and Ukraine, similar to the role it has played for Lithuania, which is now a frontrunner candidate for admission to NATO.

Peace Shield is the third major exercise to have been held this year by NATO and its members in Ukraine. The country hosted the British-led Cossack-Express land exercise and the multinational Sea Breeze naval and amphibious exercises in June and July, and will host an American-led exercise in September. Next year’s Peace Shield will see an expanded participation of some 5,000 troops (UNIAN, July 24-31; see the Monitor, February 7, March 19, May 11, July 10).