Center for Strategic Decision Research


Ukraine’s Contributions to European Capabilities in Response to Security Challenges to the New NATO

His Excellency Borys Tarasyuk
Foreign Minister of Ukraine


This year’s NATO Workshop was the fifth in which I participated. The meeting continues to grow in scope and in interest, and I was happy to see once again many friends from NATO and other leading institutions and companies who share a thirst for addressing security policy issues and who are trying to find a common vision for a united and secure continent. I am also delighted to visit this marvelous city, a seat of European culture, refinement, and hospitality, and a center of major European developments.


I would like to speak today about contributions Ukraine has made and will make in the future to respond to the challenges being faced by NATO and the entire Euro-Atlantic area.

Geopolitical Challenges

It is an acknowledged fact that Ukraine plays a pivotal role in stability in both its region and the continent as a whole. Few know how much effort and energy has been spent in a short period to earn this reputation. While internal political transformations, macroeconomic stabilization, the resolution of many problems, and the establishment of friendly relations with neighbors may seem a natural course for a Western democracy, such occurrences were unprecedented in Ukraine.

To demonstrate responsibility before the international community and to make contributions to nuclear disarmament, Ukraine voluntarily renounced its nuclear weapons, is reforming its armed forces, and is adapting national legislation to European standards. We also welcome NATO enlargement and are supporting and actively cooperating with our CEE neighbors who are the first to join. We are also working and cooperating with all EAPC partners, including Russia.

Contributions to Overall Regional Stability

Through a consistent and responsible foreign policy, Ukraine has earned much respect among other newly independent states, making it an increasingly popular regional power and politically credible and reliable. In a number of important cases, Ukraine has proved to be an effective political mediator, as it was in resolving an acute problem in Transdnistria. The President of Ukraine is one of the guarantors of peace in this highly volatile region, and we are currently aware of the serious situations in Ahkhasia (Georgia) and Nagorny Karabakh (Azerbaidjan), whose stabilization we are willing to contribute to. Together with EAPC partners we will continue to pay close attention to these new risks in the EAPC area.

Our active role in the Black Sea Economic Cooperation organization recently resulted in the creation of a new international organization under this name, embracing 10 countries of the region. Since 1993 Ukraine has been one of the strongest proponents of greater confidence and trust among the countries of the region, and has put forward appropriate initiatives. As a result, representatives of six Black Sea countries gathered on June 23 in Kyiv for the first round of negotiations on confidence-building measures and on reducing the naval military presence in their region.

Our initiatives to bring together the Black and Baltic Sea regions are further illustrations of Ukraine’s role in consolidating Central and Eastern Europe. On June 23 I joined my colleagues from Northern Europe in Copenhagen at the Baltic Sea States Council meeting, where for the first time a Ukrainian Minister participated as an observer. Also, as the result of an initiative by President Kuchma, Ukraine will host a conference of leaders of these two regions in the fall of 1999. Ukraine also holds regular meetings on various levels in a 3+2 format with the three Baltic States and Poland.

Another regional initiative that Ukraine has undertaken is gradually taking shape, and that is GUAM—an informal consulting forum among Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaidjan, and Moldova that centers on issues of mutual concern and interest. This initiative encompasses such spheres of cooperation and consultation as peacekeeping, the security of energy resources and their transportation, and conventional armaments and armed forces control.

A final part of regional cooperation I must mention is the South-eastern European dimension, where major problems currently exist in Bosnia and Kosovo. This region organically complements the Black Sea area, and concerted efforts in that part of the continent could strengthen peace even into the Mediterranean area.

The Nuclear Dimension

Another area in which Ukraine has political weight and means is in averting a nuclear threat. Recent nuclear tests in India and Pakistan shook the world. I believe that all kinds of levers should be used both bilaterally and collectively to apply the necessary pressure to make these two countries abandon their nuclear programs and join existing control regimes. The most important thing here is to step forward with a common position. The recent meeting in London of the G8+6, which included Ukraine, produced a decision to create a special task group to continue to discuss this issue.

Ukraine is closely involved in these deliberations, having condemned the tests both separately and together with NATO during the NUC Ministerial at the end of May, once again demonstrating our firm unity with NATO values. We appreciate having been invited to the London meeting, since nuclear issues are a focal point of our country. Nuclear weapons were imposed on us in the past, but we later made the decision to renounce these dreadful weapons.

Peacekeeping Contributions

Crisis management in the European “hot spots” consumes a great deal of time and resources. NATO did an excellent job of stopping the war in Bosnia, but much hard work to stabilize the situation and make peace permanent still lies ahead. Ukraine fully supports the presence of the NATO-led peacekeeping forces in that region as long as they are needed. We are determined to continue our contributions of men and hardware as well as actively participate in developing the political-military framework of NATO-led operations.

Ukraine is an active peace-keeping country. We are also recognized as a country that promotes reconciliation by political means in a number of regions in the EAPC area. Ukraine is gradually becoming more respected and trusted by its neighbors.

An important element of Ukraine’s peace-keeping policy and political-military cooperation with the Alliance is its interest and readiness to participate in CJTF. Beside providing important air-lift capabilities, Ukraine can contribute by creating peacekeeping units with its neighbors, such as the Ukrainian-Polish Battalion or similar initiatives now being considered with other CEE and NIS countries, and offering such units for NATO- or WEU-led peace support, crisis management, or humanitarian operations.

Border Dispute Resolutions

The strongest asset Europe has that can prevent and resolve border disputes is NATO enlargement. Making good-neighbor relations and an absence of territorial claims preconditions of a country’s accession to the Alliance has promoted the resolution of border disputes in both Central and Eastern Europe. During 1997 Ukraine settled problems with all of its neighbors. President Constantinescu identified 10 days in May and June 1997 in which the world was greatly stabilized, and praised the resolution of disputes between neighbors in Central and Eastern Europe, including Ukraine.

Since the overwhelming majority of CEE states are willing to join the Alliance of democratic nations, I believe that NATO’s good-neighbor policy, combined with intensive cooperation and confidence-building measures with Russia, will bear new fruit wherever border issues are still present.

Ethnic and Religious Reconciliation

In 1993 there was fear in the West that Ukraine would fall apart because of the ethnic tensions and the differences between its western and eastern parts. But Ukraine today not only demonstrates internal unity, religious reconciliation, and ethnic harmony, but also, together with Hungary, has become an example for all of Europe in paying full respect to national minorities’ rights. We have managed to reach political stability in the Crimea, are offering non-discriminating ways for the development of many national minorities on our territory, and are trying hard to cope with a high level of migration. While these are primarily internal matters, if we had not resolved them they would have been a very great challenge to all of Europe.

I would also like to mention at this time the Declaration of Reconciliation and Unity signed by President Kuchma and President Kwasniewski. This declaration has cleared the way for a Ukrainian-Polish strategic partnership.

Military and Military-Technical Contributions

Having inherited over 60% of the former Soviet Union’s military-industrial complex, Ukraine must cope with this enormous burden. However, it is also able to share its accumulated, significant military research knowledge and experience with NATO members and Partners. Ukraine’s military and military-technical cooperation with NATO is now being intensified, and I name here just a few of the areas in which Ukraine can contribute to the efficiency of the Alliance as well as provide important European capabilities for all:

1. The Yavoriv training site in western Ukraine is ideal for PFP and other types of exercises. A presentation document about this site recently submitted to NATO points out its numerous merits and advantages, including its ability to host exercises on all levels, up to large formations.

2. A promising venue of NATO-Ukraine cooperation regarding military materiel is the production of Ukrainian tanks, aircraft, and ships, which could be put at the disposal of any European peace-support operation. The biggest prospect is the Ukrainian-Russian large aircraft, the AN-70, whose characteristics make it very attractive for employment as a powerful European capability and as a basis for the Future Large Aircraft (FLA). Rounds of intensive consultation have been held with Russia, Germany, France, and other NATO countries to realize this joint project, which has no equivalent or alternative in Europe.

3. My friend Jose Cutileiro has spoken about WEU’s need to borrow NATO assets for European operations. Ukraine can offer a significant part of such assets under the Framework Document that Ukraine and WEU signed in June 1997. This document provides a basis for using Ukraine’s air-lift capabilities for European needs, in particular, peacekeeping, crisis management, and humanitarian operations. Ukrainian-French negotiations are underway now to bring this agreement to fruition.

Civil Emergencies

Ukraine is very capable of making contributions to the common effort in the sphere of civil emergencies. The use of Ukrainian search and rescue units outside Ukraine is a promising venue of cooperation with NATO Partners. Our considerable military, technological, and human potential, and our unique experience in handling disasters of technological origin, can be employed anywhere in the EAPC area where it is needed.

Ukraine was also one of the initiators and is now an active participant in the newly created Euro-Atlantic Disaster Relief Coordination Center, which will act as a “helping hand” at the U.N. Humanitarian Office coordinating disaster relief and humanitarian operations in Europe. Our participation in CMX’s two-phase exercises was also highly appreciated.


Ukraine has contributed greatly to many common efforts within and outside the NATO/EAPC area, efforts that are aimed at ensuring security for all. We are also an indispensable and reliable partner in the process of shaping a new security architecture on the continent and across the Atlantic. Ukraine considers NATO to be the main pillar and driving force behind global stability, regional cooperation, and crisis management. And we have become an organic part and partner, with other democratic nations, of the integration processes on the continent.

I would like to conclude by quoting a line from the Ukraine-NATO Joint Press Statement made in early June in Luxembourg, which very clearly speaks of our distinctive partnership:

“NATO Ministers expressed their full appreciation for Ukraine’s strategic course of integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures, and reaffirmed their conviction that an independent, stable, and democratic Ukraine is one of the key factors for ensuring stability in Central and Eastern Europe, and the continent as a whole.”

I would also like to stress that our course of integration shall remain in place no matter how much this policy’s opponents outside may wish to the contrary.


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