On June 8-9, the NATO-Ukraine Commission met in a defense ministers’ session at NATO headquarters in Brussels. The nineteen allied Defense Ministers and their Ukrainian counterpart, General Oleksandr Kuzmuk, took stock of recent progress in implementing NATO-Ukraine cooperation programs and approved several measures to further develop those programs.
Activities underway, reviewed and approved by the commission, are various. First is Ukraine’s successful participation in peace support operations in the Balkans under NATO command. Second, preparations for the upcoming deployment in Kosovo of the joint Polish-Ukrainian battalion [Ukraine is the only CIS country to have taken the step of establishing a joint military unit with a NATO member country–in this case Poland. NATO candidate Lithuania has similarly joined Poland in establishing a joint batttalion]. Third, the use of Ukraine’s Yavoriv military range as a NATO training center–the first such in any post-Soviet country. Fourth, plans for holding NATO-Ukraine military exercises this season, including the land exercise Cooperative Partner at Yavoriv and the amphibious operations exercise Cossack Steppe at Feodosia on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast. Fifth, officer and teaching staff exchanges between Ukraine’s National Defense Academy, the Rome-based NATO Defense College and the SHAPE School in Oberammergau, Germany. Sixth, implementation of the recent decision to create a NATO Liaison Office in Kyiv and to post Ukrainian officers at NATO headquarters. Seventh, launching an Action Plan, now approved by both sides, on the “Status and Main Directions of Development of NATO-Ukraine Cooperation in the field of Armaments.”
Current trends in Ukrainian public opinion toward NATO were also in focus during this session. Official Kyiv and NATO recently embarked on a joint effort to educate the Ukrainian public about NATO’s post-Cold War role. The NATO Information and Documentation Center in Kyiv is being expanded to serve as a spearhead in this effort, primarily targeted at eastern and southern Ukraine. NATO recently awarded the Manfred Woerner Fellowship–NATO’s most prestigious–to a Kharkiv University project on Ukrainian popular attitides toward the alliance (UNIAN, DINAU, NATO Defense Ministers’ Session communiques, June 9; see the Monitor, January 31, March 6; Fortnight in Review, March 17).
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