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ISSN 2294-1274


Volume 3 - Issue 7, July 2013

NATO and Post-Soviet Space Formal relations between NATO and Russia began in 1991 when Russia joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council. In 1997 the NATO-Russia Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security led the development of a bilateral program of consultation and cooperation, soon magnified by the NATO-Russia Council. However, in the recent years, this relationship has become increasingly tense. The debate over Western influence in Eastern Europe has always been at the core of the NATO-Russia relationship and in this month’s edition of Atlantic Voices our contributors analyze this discussion in depth and present recommendations for future NATO-Russian cooperation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (Photo: Kyiv Post)

Contents: NATO and Post-Soviet Space Dr. Tatyana Parkhalina discusses the role of NATO in the Post-Soviet region and the nature

The interaction between NATO and

of the NATO-Russia relationship today. She describes at length the current problems facing

Russia will continue to be of vital im-

NATO and Russia while highlighting key areas of cooperation and concludes that a continued

portance to security and defense around the

step by step approach towards cooperation is critical to relieving tension between the two.

globe even as former-Soviet countries continue to refine their own relationship within the international community’s security architecture.

Ukraine: A Working Relationship? Paul Pryce looks at the precarious role of Ukraine in modern NATO-Russian relations. He explores whether Ukraine is a Russian satellite, a buffer zone between Russia and the West

By: Cassandra Lewis

or something else all together? Pryce argues that Ukraine needs to take advantage of its posiAtlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 7

tion within the OSCE, while NATO needs to raise its expectation of the former Soviet-state. 1

NATO and Post-Soviet Space By: Dr. Tatyana Parkhalina


fter the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the situation concerning post-Soviet space became one of the priorities of NATO. There were several

reasons for this : regional instability, potential for social revolution and civil war, securing Russia’s nuclear arsenal from for-

Kiev’s appeal to join the Membership Action Plan (MAP), NATO-countries invented a formula that stipulated how both countries could eventually become NATO members. This step was initiated by Moscow officials to push Russia away from its traditional zone of influence and interests. For the first time after 1991, Russia had parted

mer Soviet states and

from the territorial status-quo,

arms control (in 1990 Conventional

defined by the collapse of the


former Soviet Union and thus

Forces Treaty in Europe

demonstrated that there are

(CFE) was signed but in

limits to NATO’s enlargement

1991 the security environment

within post-Soviet space.


There are three main reasons

changed). The

for NATO presence in the


Commonwealth of Independent

response was an elaboration of the concept of partnership. In 1994 the

States (CIS) space: Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo: Radio Free Europe)

“Partnership for Peace”

1) the success of the partnership and cooperation policy has con-

program was launched with the main aim of giving Central and

tributed to stability and the spirit of democracy in former re-

Eastern Europe (CEE) countries (first) and post-Soviet states

publics of the Soviet Union, especially in Eastern Europe;

(second) the opportunity to integrate in, or cooperate with,

2) the global fight against terrorism, especially in Central Asia

Euro-Atlantic institutions in the field of security. From the very

(Afghanistan, Pakistan);

beginning, some post-Soviet states demonstrated their willingness to become full members of the Alliance (Baltic states). Others – such as Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan (before 2005) declared themselves NATO’s allies –

3) the search for the new role of the Alliance in the situation of “unfinished business” between USA-Europe-Russia after the cold war.

while some (Georgia, Ukraine) set their medium or long term

The main forms of NATO’s presence in post-Soviet

goals to joining the Alliance in the future. All others, including

Space are various and presuppose cooperation in the format of

Russia, did not want to be integrated into NATO, but at the

partnerships as well as different forms and levels of treaties on

same time understood the necessity of cooperation and signed

military-technical cooperation. This includes different types of

the Partnership for Peace (PFP) Program.

coordination amongst CIS military activities and the prepara-

During the same period, post-Soviet space became a field of competition between NATO, the EU and Russia who still perceived security in terms of geopolitics rather than in terms of integration. The most demonstrative example of such geopolitical competition became the Russia-Georgia War of 2008. At the NATO Bucharest Summit in April 2008, answering Tbilisi and Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 7

tion of a number of states for the process of integration into NATO. One of the forms of military-political integration for post-Soviet states was the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development (GUAM) (shaped in 1997) which unified Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Uzbekistan (before 2005), some of whom declared themselves as NATO allies with the plan of becoming future members. A driving force in CIS is the idea of NATO member2

ship being one of the political instruments in domestic political

ing present in Central Asia, NATO distances itself from coopera-

fighting. At the same time, the authorities and political move-

tion with the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)

ments in a number of CIS countries try to use problems be-

which is assessed by NATO analysts and politicians as “non-

tween NATO and Russia in post-Soviet space as leverage by

democratic”. The Alliance prefers to develop bilateral contacts

playing on disagreements (between Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbeki-

with such CIS states as Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and

stan, Byelorussia) in order to position themselves as either “for

Georgia, solving tactical problems like the creation of a transpor-

posts of Western democracy,” or as Russia’s allies.

tation corridor on the territory of the Trans Caucasus to support International Security Assistance Force

NATO tries not to be involved in the confrontation with Russia and to distance itself from the complicated domestic political problems of CIS. This is one of the reasons why, in 2008

In the case of Georgia, the unsettled territorial conflicts became real obstacles to NATO integration.

case of Georgia, the unsettled territorial conflicts became real obstacles to NATO integration. Military conflict in Southern Ossetia and the RussianGeorgian War in August 2008 demonstrated the limits of NATO’s capabilities in post-Soviet space. In August 2008 NATO leadership issued a declaration in support of Georgian President, M. Saakashvilli – and by this limited their potential to support Georgia due to their conflict with Russia. After the Russian-Georgian war in August 2008 and the shaping of new, independent states – Abkhazia and South Osethia – the question of Georgian integration into NATO lost its relevance. After presidential elections in Ukraine in November

NATO and Russia The main objective of NATO – after the dissolution of the USSR - was and still is

at the Bucharest NATO Summit, the Alliance decided not to give MAP to Georgia and Ukraine. In the

(ISAF) in Afghanistan.

the creation of a strategic partnership with Russia, which was reaffirmed in all key NATO-Russia documents: Founding Act, Rome Declaration, Lisbon Summit, and the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) Declaration. Although it was declared many times, a strategic partnership did not happen. It could be explained by several realities. First, the absence of trust – let us not forget that the U.S. and Russia remain hostage to the paradigm of mutual nuclear deterrence. Second, there are serious value gaps, as well as differing political and strategic cultures. Third, the domestic political situation in the various NATO-Russia Council countries has been forcing political leaders to take into consideration the moods of their populations. For example, when U.S. Republicans blamed President Barack Obama for certain concessions given to the Russians in the process of stra-

2009, the new leadership took a neutral position regarding the

tegic arms limitations talks,

status of the country and its MAP to NATO. At the same time,

blamed the then President Dmitry Medvedev for being cheated by

President Yanoukovitch decided not only to stop cooperation

the U.S. and NATO when promising Russia would take part in a

with NATO, but increased a number of cooperation projects

common missile defense system in Europe.

with the Alliance . Now the question of potential Ukranian integration into NATO is not on the agenda. It is absolutely evident that the Russian factor was the key element in the process of decision-making on this important issue. At the same time, the Alliance’s stance on the position of its “open door policy” in general and the cases of Tbilisi and Kiev in particular, have allowed NATO to influence their foreign policy while Georgia and Ukraine were able to avoid fulfilling their concrete obligations. The Russia-Georgia War demonstrated one more factor – NATO does not want to take responsibility for the security of the region. The Alliance avoids concrete obligations in other

the national-conservative forces

The lack of trust from the Russian side has been conditioned not only by the traditional anti-western phobia and stereotypes of the Cold War period, but also by the state of relations between Russia and the Alliance in the post-Soviet era. In the last decade and a half, the key factors that spoiled Russia-NATO relations were the 1999 Kosovo crisis, NATO enlargement to the East, the Russia-Georgia War in August 2008, and NATO’s recent operation in Libya. It is well known that the consensus inside NATO regarding Russia is very fragile. Concerns articulated by a number of NATO states are connected not only with their historical past,

regions that maintain different military-political structures. BeAtlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 7


but also with Russian policies regarding the Northern and Southern Caucasus, vis-à-vis a number of states in the postSoviet space (especially in the field of gas supplies), with Russia’s position on Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) and the Con-

tory. NATO and Russia have decided to open a transit point on Russian territory (Ulyanovsk) for non-lethal cargoes to be reloaded from aircraft to trains (using purely commercial/civilian companies).

ventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE). 3. Cooperative Air-space Initiative (CAI). The Thus, traditional stereotypes and mistrust are combined with new misunderstandings, different threat assessments, and renewed geopolitical competition. As a result, both

CAI has been directed to develop cooperation among NRC states in the field of air-traffic transparency and the early notification of suspicious air activities. The main goal is to facilitate

sides have different definitions

transparency, predictability and

when it comes to basic no-

cooperation in the realm of air-

tions such as “the indivisibility

space management. In 2011, the

of security.” The notion of

operational readiness of the CAI

security is interpreted by

system was demonstrated during a

some through the prism of


integration, and by others


“Vigilant Skies 2011”. It was the

through the prism of geopoli-

first real-time counter-terrorism


exercise, and incorporated RusAt the same time –

sian, Polish, and Turkish fighter

bearing in mind the lack of

jets acting together in response to

progress on BMD following

Training with NATO Sorbet Royal submarine rescue system

Lisbon, Russia and NATO


were more amenable than in the past to establishing cooperative activities through mutual relations. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the following:

the simulated hijacking of a passenger aircraft.

4. Counter-Piracy. On this track, coordination of NATO and Russian activities has been achieved through practical cooperation whereby both sides facilitate the exchange of

1. Fight against terrorism. Cooperation has been

information in regards to operations off the coast of Somalia, in

realized through a permanent exchange of information, consul-

addition to discussing eventual scenarios of common efforts

tation, planning, and the use of civil services in the event of

(including improving coordination and communication, coop-

terrorist attacks. There is a serious dialogue at the highest level

erating on medical support, logistics and refueling).

on the role of military forces in the fight against terror, as well as technical and scientific cooperation in the fields connected with anti-terror operations, e.g., border control, nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), air-space management, nuclear safety etc.

5. Search and Rescue at Sea. In 2003, a framework agreement on cooperation was signed. Following the agreement Russia took part in NATO’s “Sorbet Royal” exercise in 2005. Since then, a Russian navy submarine was fully integrated into a NATO-led exercise “Bold Monarch 2011,” which

2. Cooperation on Afghanistan. The NRC pilot

took place off the southern coast of Spain. Three additional

project for counter-narcotics training of Afghan and Central

Russian ships supported the Russian Navy’s Alrosa submarine

Asian personnel has been realized through the Russian Ministry

including a submarine rescue vessel, a salvage vessel, and a

of Interior since December 2005. The Helicopter Maintenance

heavy-lifting vessel.

Trust Fund (over $5 billion USD) was created in March 2011. There is a plan that, by 2016, Afghanistan will have 140 helicopters and 8,000 personnel through the trust fund. Transit to and from Afghanistan in support of ISAF

6. Military-to-Military Cooperation. In January 2011 (then in 2012 & 2013), a plan aimed at enhancing military cooperation in six fields was adopted. These six fields were: fighting terrorism, logistical coordination , search and rescue

(land transit of non-lethal goods) is provided via Russian terriAtlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 7


at sea, in-theatre missile-defense systems and military academic

U.S. Congress of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty

exchange (including preparation of the glossary on the subject

(START), the proposal was interpreted by Moscow as an invi-

of cooperation, which should contain 7,000 terms in Russian

tation to shape jointly a common MD system. This interpreta-

and English in the key spheres of political and military coopera-

tion however, became thereafter an obstacle in the negotiation

tion between Russia and NATO).


Despite these new developments of NATO-Russian

At the NATO-Russia Lisbon Summit, President

cooperation at the practical level, the political level remains

Medvedev launched the idea of sectorial defense and/or legal

much less developed. The main reason for this is the lack of

obligations to the effect that NATO would not direct its MD

progress in negotiations on missile defense and on conventional

system against Russian strategic nuclear forces. Russia proposed

forces in Europe.

to include in its sector NATO countries such as Baltic States

One may wonder why, merely one year after Lisbon

and Poland, along with offering certain security guarantees.

(when there was hope that the reset was going to move us be-

Those countries, given their historical experience, are the least

yond the Cold War), the United States and NATO declared

likely to accept any Russian security guarantees. As for legal

that they would develop their MD system in spite of Russia’s

obligations from NATO, this would have required a specific

numerous concerns, while Russia threatens to retaliate through

treaty that would be unfeasible from the outset, which would

“adequate measures,” thus leading to a possible new arms race.

have had to be ratified by the parliaments of 28 countries. This

On March 2010, in his speech devoted to the shaping of a new European security architecture at a forum organized

was questionable, bearing in mind the difficulties that President Obama had in the U.S. Congress during the process of ratifying START

by the German Marshall Fund in Brussels, the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said: “We need a mis-

(encountering re-

sistance from the Republicans

“We need a missile defense system that includes not just all countries of NATO, but Russia too.” - Secretary General Rasmussen

sile defense system that includes not just all countries of NATO, but Russia too. One security roof that we build together, that we support together, and that we operate together. One security roof that protects us all… One security would be

who perceived the treaty as more in line with Russian than American security interests). Moreover, the Europeans were

not able to ratify their own treaties, and were still facing the challenge of ratifying the Lisbon Treaty. So the process of ratification alone could have potentially taken years or decades.

a very strong political symbol that Russia is fully part of the

We now must recognize that negotiations have

Euro-Atlantic family, sharing the benefits and the costs – not

reached a deadlock on missile defense. There were hopes that

outside but very much inside.”

after presidential elections in Russia and in the USA, both sides

The way this proposal was formulated could be interpreted either as an invitation for cooperation between two MD systems under one common roof (although there has been no elaboration so far on what this roof could be), or the shaping of a joint MD system. In the latter case, this could lead to real Russian integration in the formation of a new Euro-Atlantic security system, stopping short of institutional integration. This is hardly possible now for numerous reasons from both sides. The proposal could also lead to Russia’s access to new technologies, and a new format of relations within the Euro-Atlantic community. Given that the proposal was made in the context of the U.S.-Russia Reset, and at the time of ratification by the Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 7

could find a compromise. But it did not happen. Now two presidents exchange letters: president Obama suggested to sign a legally-binding executive document on transparency in the field of MD, but Russia did not accept the idea using the argument that without ratification by the US Congress this document will remain relative only under Obama’s presidency while at the same time asking for preventive transparency from the Kremlin, which meant providing preventive data on the speed of missiles and other military-technical characteristics. In both countries, the opponents of the reset have controversially exploited the suspicion and mistrust on both sides for political capital. However, it would be overly simplistic to equate all


these problems to purely domestic political reasons alone. In Russia there is strong opposition towards a potential rapprochement with the United States and NATO. This can be witnessed through three very significant discrepancies:

assessments (irrespective of a number of common documents), different interests in a number of regions, opposite positions on a number of issues (Kosovo, Georgia, Iran, Syria) and only one common agenda – disarmament – which is in fact a Cold War agenda.

Despite the reset, the Russian

The basis for a strategic

bureaucracy, educated and fed anti-

partnership in transatlantic rela-

western principles for decades, have

tions requires three components

understood that it is impossible to

and depends on the evolution of

develop their career if they openly

these factors: values, security,

declare their support for a partner-

and economics. Last but not

ship with the Euro-Atlantic commu-

least is indeed economic coopera-


tion and interaction. The United Despite the reset, there are

three key Russian documents (the

Patriot anti-missile batteries (Photo: NATO)

States and Russia will not change the paradigm of their relations

concept of national security, the concept of Foreign Policy, the

(since the paradigm is one of mutual nuclear deterrence) with-

Military Doctrine) where NATO and the United States are per-

out further developing their economic cooperation. NATO and

ceived to be the main threats to Russian national security;

Russia will not change the paradigm of mutual mistrust without

Irrespective of Russian foreign policy, Russian domestic

developing military-technological cooperation that could lead

policy shows that the majority of Russian political forces use anti-

to real confidence building. In the case of NATO-Russia, there

Western rhetoric, and resist the shaping of effective working insti-

is already bilateral military-technological cooperation between

tutions, hence these institutions being perceived as a challenge to

the Russian Federation and individual countries of the Alliance

Russia’s own survival.

(such as France, Greece, Spain, Italy, Turkey, and the majority

What are these political forces? Any Russian leader who opposes a strategic partnership with the West, can count on the support of conservative minded military officers (a considerable portion of the military-industrial complex), national-conservatives within the political spectrum, and a portion of the regional elites. All of them continue to exploit old perceptions of the West, inherited from the period of bi-polar confrontation. when n fact, they are seeking the realization of their own economic and political interests. The Declaration on missile defense delivered by President Medvedev 10 days before the Russian parliamentary elections was not only a message to the Russian public, but also was a message to the United States and NATO, calling for a compromise on missile defense in order to make use of all possible opportunities before the NATO 2012 Chicago Summit to undermine NATO’s MD initiative.

of former Warsaw Pact members). To a certain extent however, these special relations have caused concerns from other NATO countries, as was illustrated by the Mistral deal between Russia and France. In fact, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed hopes that Russia “…will not use new French techniques against some of its neighbor-countries.” He also stressed that NATO was not involved in this deal, and that the French President had not informed him about it beforehand. Potential perspectives for NATO-Russia militarytechnological cooperation were analyzed and discussed at the Conference of National Directors on armaments of NATO countries in Brussels in October 2009. During the Conference, not only did the politicians discuss potential areas of cooperation between NATO and Russia in this field, but a list of practical measures for the years to come were also considered, such as industrial cooperation in the fields of aviation, a common

At the end of the day, one has to ask: is there any possi-

project regarding heavy tactical transport helicopters, tech-

bility for strategic partnership when the two sides (NATO and

niques for Afghanistan and Russian participation in the techno-

Russia) have different perceptions of security, different threat

logical program of the fight against terrorism, including

Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 7


measures of detection and neutralization of explosive materials. Coming back to the old (Cold War) security agenda of disarmament dominated by old tactics of negotiations, new levels

they will ultimately decide to unite their efforts in search of common answers to non-traditional security threats and become real partners.

of transparency and additional confidence-building measures

About the author

(including verifications) should be elaborated and introduced into the process. At the same time the principles of mutual nuclear

Dr. Tatyana Parkhalina is a Russian expert on European

deterrence should be transformed. The negotiations could achieve

Security problems, on NATO-Russia relations and on Russian

some results only after a compromise between USA and Russia is

foreign policy. She is an author of a number of books and articles (more than 100) on the

reached. We can still expect that a joint political declaration toward safeguarding strategic stability could allow for the untying of the antimissile knot. One could still realistically achieve an integration of

It would be rational to increase the level of transparency in data exchanges, and to shape a clear and detailed mechanism of coordination for two systems.

aforementioned issues. Since 2003 she has been a Member of Expert Council on International Affairs at the Council of Federation of the RF, and since 2011, she has been Deputy Chair of

missile defense information systems. This goal could be achieved through 10 exercises of MD in

Expert Council on International Affairs there. In 2013, she

the format of 5 U.S.-Russian exercises and 5 NATO-Russian exer-

became the President of Russian Association for Euro-Atlantic

cises (the most recent exercise with NATO happened at the end of


March 2012 in Germany). There are still serious differences in missile threat assessments creating a need for both sides to increase intelligence data exchanges on nuclear potentials, as well as joint research and development (R&D) in this field among countries that already have nuclear weapons. Some time ago, NATO discussed a proposal with Russia on creating two common MD centers: the Center for Data Exchanges, and the Centre for Operational Cooperation. Russia was skeptical about this proposition. It would be rational to increase the level of transparency in data exchanges, and to shape a clear and detailed mechanism of coordination for two systems. In conclusion, the fact that emerging security challenges and threats, new developments in a number of regions, as well as the ongoing economic crisis, are pushing both NATO and Russia to change the paradigm of their relationships and exit the vicious circle of mutual suspicion and mutual accusations is a welcomed development. 2012 marked two anniversaries in NATO-Russia relations: 15 years since the NATO-Russia Founding Act, and 10 years since the Rome Declaration. Both sides should remember that the clock of history is implacable: either these two countries work

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4 Gradirovsky S., Esipova N., Ray J. The decisive factor : post-Soviet states’ attitudes toward NATO. Harvard International Review. Wntr, 2010, Vol. 31, Issue 4. 5

Nicole J. Jackson, International Organisations, Security Dichotomies and the Traffiking of Persons and Narcotics in Post-Soviet Central Asia: A Critique of the Securitization Framework. Security Dialog, September 2006; vol. 37, 3; pp. 299-317.


Johnson L. Vladimir Putin and the evolution of Russian foreign policy. – L.: Malden (MA) “Blackwell: Royal inst. of intern. affairs, 2004, - IX, 164 p. (Chatham House papers).


Kostandinova T. East European Public Support for NATO Membership: Fears and Aspirations. Journal of Peace Research, March 2000; vol. 37; pp. 235-249.


Sherr J. Russia and the west: A Reassesment.- The Shrivenham papers. – Defence Academy of the UK, - Media Services: Granfield univ. DA., 2008. #6, Jan. – 43 p.

9 Shlapentokh D. Post-Soviet History and NATO Geographical Expansion. Humboldt Journal of Social Relations. January 1999; 25(1):93-120.

Атанесян, А. (2004). ʺСтратегия ʺперетягиванияʺ и перераспределение сил на постсоветском пространствеʺ // Международный научно-общественный журнал ʺМир Переменʺ, Москва, Институт международных экономических и политических исследований Российской академии наук, N 2, сс. 129-140.


separately less efficiently, spend more money, remain locked in the same paradigm, scattering their forces to deter each other; or Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 7


Ukraine: A Working Relationship? By Paul Pryce


ollowing electoral victories by Viktor Yanu-

end of 2013, Ukraine is also expected to contribute a frig-

kovych and the Party of Regions, Ukraine has

ate to Operation Ocean Shield, which constitutes NATO’s

dropped its formal bid for NATO membership

response to the threat of piracy in the Gulf of Aden. The

and adopted legislation prohibiting the country from join-

Russian Navy has also made some modest contributions to

ing any military alliance. This has prompted many observ-

Ocean Shield and Active Endeavour, though it has re-

ers to now deem Ukraine as a buffer zone at best and a

frained from participating on the scale that Ukraine has.

Russian satellite at worst. Those leaning toward the latter

Outside the auspices of NATO operations, the

view cite the renewal of the Russian Federation’s lease on

Ukrainian military has also enjoyed close cooperation with

naval facilities in Crimea until 2042 as an indication that,

the forces of NATO member states on international peace-

while officially non-aligned, the current Ukrainian govern-

keeping deployments. Particularly noteworthy here is the

ment is willing to extend vital support to Russia.

Ukrainian involvement with KFOR, the NATO-led inter-

Yet these characterizations of Ukrainian foreign

national peacekeeping force in Kosovo. Since 2000, the

policy are overly simplistic. Rather than serving as a buff-

Polish-Ukrainian Peace Force Battalion has served an im-

er, Ukraine has sought to become a balancer, attempting

portant role in securing Kosovo’s borders with neighbour-

to avoid full security dependency upon either of the inte-

ing territories. This contingent has tended to be comprised

grating bodies to its west and east – the European Union

of approximately 500 Polish ground troops and slightly less

(EU) and NATO on the one hand, or the Eurasian Eco-

than 200 Ukrainian soldiers. Meanwhile, since 2002,

nomic Community (EEC) and the

Ukraine has also been contributing troops to a smaller

Collective Security Treaty Organi-

multinational battalion within

zation (CSTO) on the other. This

KFOR, which is comprised of

difficult balancing act should be

military personnel also drawn

seen as an opportunity for the

from Belgium, Luxembourg,

North Atlantic Alliance to deepen

and Romania.


Clearly, the Ukrainian

Ukraine, though full membership

authorities are not adverse to

may never be back on the agenda.

close security cooperation with





NATO Operations


Ukrainian soldiers serving with KFOR on parade in 2009

NATO member states and the

(Photo: Major Petro Gasay, Ukrainian Army)

Alliance itself. While it is cer-

At the same time, while Ukraine has withdrawn

tain that the Ukrainian commitment to KFOR was made

from the Membership Action Program, the country none-

prior to the rise to power of Yanukovych and the Party of

theless participates in a number of NATO operations.

Regions, the new government has continued to approve

Since 2007, the Ukrainian Navy has contributed several

the deployment of new rotations for KFOR. Furthermore,

corvettes and frigates to Operation Active Endeavour,

these multinational units may present an opportunity for

which was initiated in response to the terrorist attacks of

deepening NATO cooperation with Ukraine, even if they

September 11th, 2001, and which is responsible for moni-

are not formally affiliated with NATO itself. For example,

toring maritime traffic in the Mediterranean Sea. By the

an agreement is expected by the end of 2013 on the for-

Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 7


mation of a Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian Brigade that would consist of 4,500 troops and which could deploy on short notice as part of a United Nations sanctioned peacekeeping operation

only ever with a focus on preparing troops for deployment as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. As the role of ISAF is reduced, the focus on preparing forces specifically for deployment to Afghanistan

anywhere in the world.

can be shifted toward a comprehensive harmonization of

The Interoperability Challenge Through projects like the Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian Brigade, trust in NATO may deepen to such an extent that the Ukrainian authorities will abandon their balancing act in favour of integration into the Alliance or, more likely, a sub-regional

standards and doctrine. With an increase in size and a potentially more open-ended mandate, Maple Arch 2013 could prove to be an important step in fostering common standards both strategically and operationally. Even so, a marked increase in the number and diver-

security arrangement with Poland and

sity of opportunities for joint training

Lithuania. Alternatively, a change in Ukrainian government may build on the success of the KFOR collaboration and

Interoperability is a problem; much of the equipment utilized by the Ukrainian military is incompatible...

the joint brigade by pursuing NATO membership. In such a scenario, the integration of Ukraine into the Alliance or into an alternative arrangement would still be a challenging prospect. As has been noted from previous collaboration with Ukrainian forces, interoperability is a problem; much of the equipment utilized by the Ukrainian military is incompatible, but more importantly the training and doctrine does not meet NATO standards. Thus far, projects pursued under the auspices of the Partnership for Peace, of which Ukraine remains a member, have not been sufficient alone to help the Ukrainian military meet the standards for NATO membership. Preemptively addressing the gap in capabilities will be necessary in order to prevent a long and drawn-out process of integration that leaves the Ukrainian public even further disillusioned with membership in either NATO or some hypothetical association with Poland. Fortunately, there does seem to be a means by which to achieve interoperability in the Army, though not yet necessarily the Air Force and Navy, but through initiatives associated with the Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian Brigade. To test the readiness of the units to be included in this brigade, Exercise Maple Arch 2013 has been scheduled for September. This large -scale, brigade-level military exercise will see Polish, Lithuanian, and Ukrainian personnel operating alongside one another with assistance and guidance from Canadian military experts. Maple Arch has been held consistently on an annual basis, though never on the scale expected for the 2013 edition and

will be necessary if the stage is to be set successfully for Ukraine’s accession to NATO membership at a later date and under conditions much more favourable

to such an accession. The United States Navy holds annual exercises with their Ukrainian counterparts, known as Exercise Sea Breeze, but this focuses primarily on disaster response and emergency preparedness rather than on building up either the expeditionary or defensive capabilities of the Ukrainian naval forces. Meanwhile, there are no joint NATO and Ukrainian Air Force exercises. This year has brought an expansion in the number of joint exercises, but countries like Poland or the United States, which are already cultivating strong relationships military-wise, will need to drastically build on this momentum in future years to ensure that Ukrainian leaders view the NATO member states as a preferred model for military development, Securing a Consensus With Kyiv This is not to say that NATO and its member states should seek to kowtow to the Ukrainian leadership. While practical cooperation on a number of fronts has clearly been positive, Ukrainian political cooperation has not been as forthcoming. A clear example of this can be found in Ukraine’s disappointing performance thus far as the Chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). When the 57 members of this important institution for European security approved the Ukrainian bid for leadership, Yanukovych emphasized that a lasting resolution to the Transnistrian conflict would be a priority of the Ukrainian Chairmanship.

Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 7


This ‘frozen conflict’ emerged when the largely

fence systems in Romania, Russian authorities have sug-

ethnic Russian and ethnic Ukrainian region of Transnis-

gested that early warning radar facilities may be established

tria attempted to break away from the newly independ-

in Transnistria. The ambiguous status of Transnistria also

ent Moldova in 1992, and it has remained a lingering

complicates any plans Moldova may have for NATO and

threat to European security and stability ever since.

EU accession. In short, the preservation of the current

The momentum for a breakthrough in the conflict was

situation allows the Russian Federation to keep Moldova

apparent when Ukraine assumed the leadership of the

firmly in its orbit.

OSCE. In 2012, during Ireland’s tenure at the head of

In light of this, one may conclude that Ukrainian

the organization, peace talks were resumed and a num-

mismanagement of the Transnistrian issue in 2013 is an

ber of agreements on border management and other

indication that Russia still continues to hold sway over

issues in the Region were finalized.

Ukraine’s foreign policy. However, reluctance on the part

Ukraine, which shares a border with Moldova

of Ukrainian authorities to pursue a lasting resolution to

and the breakaway territory of Transnistria, has also

the Transnistrian conflict may simply reflect a belief on the

been heavily involved in previous efforts to end the

part of the Yanukovych government that the current situa-

conflict. In 2005, then President Viktor Yushchenko

tion affords the greatest degree of stability in Ukraine’s

successfully hosted comprehensive peace talks and set

geopolitical neighbourhood. In their view, pressing too

out his own proposal for a lasting resolution called the

hard for the normalization of relations between Moldova

‘Vinnitsa Plan’. Though the proposal was ultimately

and separatist Transnistria may embolden hardliners within

rejected, it marked the closest the conflict has come to

the breakaway region, resulting in the renewal of hostilities

a peaceful end. Rather than achieving a breakthrough,

or some other form of instability detrimental to the securi-

however, the Ukrainian Chairmanship has presided

ty of Ukraine. If so, Russian interests have not co-opted

over deepening tensions


between Moldova and



Transnistrian case.



interests; coincide


they the

2013, a dispute over the

Plenty of divergence

establishment of security

between Ukraine and Russia

checkpoints in one border

can in fact be found on the

town resulted in such an

political level, even under

escalation of tensions that

the leadership of Yanu-

the Ukrainian Chairman-

kovych. While Ukraine has

ship was left urging both Russian soldiers: Putin's 1,300 men in Transnistria are key to the future of not recognized the independparties to avoid the use of

Moldova and CFEII (Photo: Wikipedia)

ence of Kosovo, it has also

violence. In many respects, relations between Moldova

refrained from recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia as

and the separatists are at their lowest point since the

independent, in part because of concerns that a precedent

civil war that fractured the country in 1992.

might be set for the unilateral declaration of Crimean inde-

It has been noted that the status quo in Moldova

pendence. It also appears that Ukraine has supplied arms to

is of strategic benefit for the Russian Federation. Under

rebels in Syria, even as the Russian Federation supplies

the pretense of peacekeeping, Russia maintains a pres-

arms to the regime of Bashar al-Assad. It appears that for-

ence of 1,200 soldiers in Transnistria. In response to

eign policy decisions are being made in Kyiv not on the

proposals for the installation of NATO anti-missile de-

basis of what appeases Moscow, but rather on what is in

Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 7


the immediate interest of Ukraine. This has prompted

participation so that it is beneficial to all actors involved.

Ukraine to engage in its balancing act, attempting to ex-

This relationship will undoubtedly be more complicated

tract concessions from both Russia and the Atlantic com-

than previous phases of NATO enlargement, but to expect

munity. Beyond expanding opportunities for practical cooperation, NATO member states

it to be otherwise would be to succumb to

The country is seeking to forge a path of its own...

might induce better political

the same chauvinism with which Russia has pursued its relationship with Ukraine. In fact, by regarding Ukraine as ‘Little Russia’, Putin has been confounded by Ukraine at

cooperation from Ukraine by using a ‘tough love’ ap-

every turn. Avoiding such tropes will allow NATO and the

proach. The Ukrainian authorities sought international

EU to secure a productive partnership with Ukraine.

prestige and domestic favour by bidding for the OSCE

About the author

Chairmanship. It has received both, while the failures on the Transnistrian front indicate that Ukraine is not making

Paul Pryce is a Junior Research Fellow at the Atlantic

a valid contribution in this new role. Recently, Ukraine

Council of Canada. With degrees from the University of

indicated that it wishes to obtain a non-permanent seat on

Calgary and Tallinn University, he has previously worked

the UN Security Council in 2016-2017. NATO and EU

in conflict resolution as a diplomatic aide at the OSCE

member states should respond by setting out conditions

Parliamentary Assembly.

that Ukraine must meet in order to receive support in this bid for a seat on the Security Council. For example, prior to the vote on seat allotments for the 2016-2017 term in the Security Council, Ukraine should be expected to hold talks and produce tangible results on the Transnistrian conflict. Only when these conditions are satisfied can Ukraine expect to receive votes supporting its bid. Meeting these terms will be exceedingly difficult, but necessary to demonstrate to the Ukrainian leadership that not only does their geopolitical situation not constitute a blank cheque but that Ukraine must also demonstrate its capacity to be a reliable and earnest partner in order to receive further assistance on the modernization and professionalization of its military forces. The Next Steps for NATO As has been discussed here, Ukraine is not a Russian buffer nor is the country beholden to Russian interests alone. Rather, the country is seeking to forge a path of its own, balancing the competing influences of Russia and the Atlantic community. In the course of this, Ukraine has become involved in NATO operations and regional arrangements that also involve NATO member states. The next step is to develop more opportunities for Ukrainian Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 7

Bibliography Interfax. (2013, May 20). Russian Navy Favours Novorossiysk Base Over Sevastopol. .


NATO. (2010, November 12). Ukrainian ship joins NATO’s counter-terrorism surge in eastern Mediterranean. news_68152.htm. 3RIA Novosti. (2013, February 22). Ukraine Joins NATO’s Counter-Piracy Operation. 4NATO. (2008, July 31). KFOR Chronicle Issue 7. chronicle/2008/chronicle_07/chronicle_07.pdf 5NATO-Ukraine Commission. (2003, June 12). Statement, Meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission. 6Interfax-Ukraine. (2013, March 26). Poland’s minister: Treaty on Formation of Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian battalion may be signed in Q3 2013. http:// . 7Simons, Greg. (2010). Ukraine’s Peacekeeping Activities: United Nations and Partnership for Peace. Stockholm: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. p.7 8Ukrainian News Agency. (2013, May 13). Ukraine to participate in 24 combined military exercises in 2013. . 9Kyiv Post. (2013, February 12). Sea Breeze 2013 participants to focus on evacuation. . 10OSCE. (2013, April 27). OSCE Chairperson calls on Chisinau and Tiraspol to preserve stability and keep calm in the region. cio/101095. 11Novinite. (2012, April 17). Russia to Deploy Missile Defence Radar in Transnistria. 12Kuzio, Taras. (2012, December 14). “Ukraine’s Arms to Syria Set to Grow, While Ukrainian Nationals are Targeted by Anti-Assad Forces” Eurasia Daily Monitor. 5 B t t _ n e w s % 5D=40251&cHash=dc1ee159354f36364d507f55fabde69d#.UbBOUEA4uSo . 13Interfax-Ukraine. (2013, June 4). Foreign minister: Ukraine wants to be nonpermanent UN Security Council member in 2016-2017. http:// . 2


ATA Programs From 27-30 June, the Azerbaijan Youth Atlantic Treaty Association hosted a successful workshop in Novkhani on “NATO and the

Atlantic Voices is the monthly publication of the Atlantic Treaty Association. It aims to inform the debate on key issues that affect the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, its goals and its future. The work published in Atlantic Voices is written by young professionals and researchers.

South Caucasus—Challenges and Opportunities from the Perspec-

The Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA) is an international non-

tives of Azerbaijan and Georgia.” The event was extremely success-

governmental organization based in Brussels working to facilitate global

ful, featuring representatives throughout the region and beyond.

networks and the sharing of knowledge on transatlantic cooperation and security. By convening political, diplomatic and military leaders with

From 6-7 September, the Latvian Transatlantic Organization

academics, media representatives and young professionals, the ATA promotes

(LATO) is hosting the

the values set forth in the North Atlantic Treaty: Democracy, Freedom,

annual and international

Liberty, Peace, Security and Rule of Law. The ATA membership extends to 37


“Riga Con-

countries from North America to the Caucasus throughout Europe. In 1996,

ference.” The confer-

the Youth Atlantic Treaty Association (YATA) was created to specifially

ence will feature states-

include to the successor generation in our work.

men and international

Since 1954, the ATA has advanced the public’s knowledge and

officials from the highest levels to discuss issues of key concern to

understanding of the importance of joint efforts to transatlantic security

Europe, NATO and the Baltic region. Check out the LATO web-

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European Security Forum, the Ukraine Dialogue and its Educational Platform. In 2011, the ATA adopted a new set of strategic goals that reflects the

From 6-8 June 2013, the Atlantic Council of Montenegro hosted the very successful To Be Secure (2BS) Forum in Budva, Mon-

constantly evolving dynamics of international cooperation. These goals include:

tenegro. Check out the review and videos online at:

security issues.

Atlantic Voices is always seeking new material. If you are a young researcher, subject expert or professional and feel you have a valuable contribution to make to the debate, then please get in touch. We are looking for papers, essays, and book reviews on issues of importance to the NATO Alliance. For details of how to submit your work please see our website. Further enquiries can also be directed to the ATA Secretariat at the address listed below. Editor: Jason Wiseman Images should not be reproduced without permission from sources listed, and remain the sole property of those sources. Unless otherwise stated, all images are the property of NATO.

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activism and greater emphasis on joint research initiatives. These programs will also aid in the establishment of a network of international policy experts and professionals engaged in a dialogue with NATO.

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This publication is co co--sponsored by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Atlantic Voices Vol 3. No. 7 (July 2013)  

Dr. Tatyana Parkhalina discusses the role of NATO in the Post-Soviet region and the nature of the NATO-Russia relationship today. She descri...

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