A couple of people have commented on my recent Oxford speech that they were surprised to see how much military co-operation went on between Ukraine and the UK.  Having listed various other areas of joint work (EU, energy, macro-financial assistance) I said:

A final key area of cooperation is military.  There's a lot the UK can continue to do to work closely with Ukraine to help its armed forces to reform and to make them more capable of working with NATO forces. That includes:

Developing Ukrainian military capacity and helping Ukraine to get into a position where it can support peacekeeping operations in third countries. Includes in-country teams helping Ukraine move towards NATO accreditation – eg a 4-week training course for naval infantry 

Training and development of future defence civilian and military leaders 

UK assistance for development of non-commissioned officers 

A peacekeeping English project which has taught over 5,000 officers to speak English 

Providing training through the British Military Advisory and Training Team based in Czech Republic 

A special Defence Adviser who works in the Ministry of Defence in Kyiv.

It’s all good, crunchy stuff.

The key thing about this practical co-operation is that it’s going on all the time.  For example, this month will see a visit to Ukraine by a 17-strong group of staff and students from the UK’s Royal College of Defence Studies, while a 20-strong group from the Ukrainian National Defence University will visit the UK.  In June, UK personnel will take part in Exercise Sea Breeze 2011, a US/Ukrainian sea and land operation focusing on the interoperability of maritime, air and amphibious task forces of Black Sea nations and their role in maritime security and peace support operations.  Other UK experts will run a logistics related workshop in Kyiv as part of a wider US-led Logistics exercise.  And in July and August, UK forces will take part in the US/Ukrainian land exercise Rapid Trident.  Experienced British paratroopers will work with Ukrainian and other forces on parachute drops, improving interoperability and promoting professional exchanges between Partnership for Peace nations.

I hope this work will continue in the months and years ahead.  As I said in Oxford, these kind of joint activities are good for Ukraine and good for relations between Ukrainian and UK and other military forces.  The better those relationships, the better for peace, security and stability in the region.

Leigh Turner
British Ambassador to Ukraine

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