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Ukraine After the Orange Revolution: Can It Complete Military Transformation and Join the U.S.-Led War on Terrorism?

Authored by Dr. Deborah Sanders. | October 2006

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SUMMARY

Located at the crossroads of Europe between east and west, Ukraine?s pivotal location and recent path towards democracy mean that this state has the potential to play an important role in the global coalition in combatting both regional and international terrorism. Ukraine can contribute to the U.S.-led struggle against international terrorism in two ways. First, the consolidation of democracy and democratic control over its armed forces will allow Ukraine to be a force for stability in the Eurasian region. It will give Ukraine the authority and credibility to play a diplomatic and peacekeeping role in frozen conflicts in the former Soviet Union?where conflict resolution has yet to take place. Ukraine can make a second contribution to the U.S.-led defeat of international terrorism through the development of niche capabilities?in particular its peacekeeping forces.

The author argues that, if Ukraine is to realize its potential as an effective U.S. ally in the war on terror, it needs to engage in comprehensive military transformation. This will necessitate the reform of all security stakeholders?all those organizations responsible for the provision of security in Ukraine. Effective military transformation in Ukraine will be dependent on the development of military professionalism, democratic political control, and democratic professionalism. Professional militaries are efficient, well-equipped, and highly motivated modern forces whose institutions and internal structures reflect democratic civilian control. Democratic control would ensure that all security stakeholders are accountable through the democratic structures in Ukraine; this would include both constitutional limits and accountability to the executive branch, legislative branch, and Ukrainian society. Democratic professionalism is an important benchmark used to determine progress in military transformation and the extent to which Ukraine can contribute to the war on terror. Democratic professionalism is the development of new styles of leadership and promotion in Ukraine so that military commanders have the confidence and flexibility to make timely decisions in a complex battlespace such as stabilization operations in Iraq. The author argues that Ukraine has made considerable progress in developing military professionalism, democratic political control, and democratic professionalism in the military sphere, but has made far less progress in reforming its security services.

Successful military transformation will allow Ukraine to provide niche capabilities, in particular well-trained and equipped peacekeeping troops able to contribute to the international struggle for peace and stability. Ukraine has made considerable progress in developing effective and professional peacekeeping forces. However, it is clear that, at present, Ukrainian peacekeeping forces lack the training and capability to perform strategic or more complex peacekeeping operations. Stabilization operations in Iraq have demonstrated that there is a need for future coalition members to develop the capability for full-spectrum military activities beyond traditional peacekeeping. The changing nature of contemporary conflicts means that members of the international community have to be able to deploy forces that are able to engage simultaneously in all aspects of strategic peacekeeping?peace building, peace enforcement, and traditional tasks related to maintaining the peace. A case study of Ukrainian peacekeepers in Iraq suggests that these forces currently lack the capability and training for anything more than rigid adherence to traditional as opposed to strategic peacekeeping tasks. The author argues that effective and well-funded military transformation in Ukraine will give the Ukrainian forces the capability to perform more complex tasks in support of the war on terror.

The author argues that Ukraine?s ability to perform future military tasks in support of the war on terror also will be contingent on the consolidation of democracy and the development of good relations with neighbors. Ukraine has made some notable progress in the consolidation and building of its democratic and electoral institutions since the Orange Revolution at the end of 2004. Ukraine has a flourishing civic society and increasingly a free press. Democratization in Ukraine, which will provide one of the key catalysts for progress in military transformation, may mean, however, that Ukraine lacks the political commitment and domestic support necessary to deploy forces into high-risk environments. Increased democratic political control, accountability, and oversight could limit the discretion of the Ukrainian Government to deploy its military in support of the war on terrorism. More democratic and inclusive political control over peacekeeping activities could limit the range of activities and the type of operations Ukraine will commit to in the future.

Ukraine?s geo-strategic environment also affects the pace and shape of military transformation and the consolidation of democracy. The author argues that the parameters and possibilities of military change will be affected by the degree to which Ukraine maintains good relations with its neighbors?not least of which the Russian Federation. Russian interference in Ukraine?s presidential election in 2004 and disagreement over the price of Russian-supplied gas in early 2006 have strained relations between these two states. Russia and Ukraine also have a number of unresolved and contentious legacy issues that hamper the prospects for the normalization of relations in the short to medium term. These include the speed and shape of the Single Economic Space and the conditions under which the Russian fleet remains in Ukraine?s Black Sea port, Sevastopol. Ukraine?s foreign policy objectives connected with Euro-Atlantic integration will facilitate military transformation, but this ultimately could damage relations further with Russia. Deterioration in relations could lead to the reemphasis of traditional definitions of defense rather than the development of niche capabilities such as peacekeeping forces, thus hampering Ukraine?s ability to contribute to the war on terror.

INTRODUCTION

?Razom nas Bahato! Nas ne podolaty!? The rhythmic chant spread through the crowd of hundreds of thousands that filled Kiev?s Independence Square on the evening of November 22 [2004]. ?Together, we are many! We cannot be defeated!? Emerging from a sea of orange, the mantra signalled the rise of a powerful civic movement, a skilled political opposition group, and a determined middle class that had come together to stop the ruling elite from falsifying an election and hijacking Ukraine?s presidency.Over the next 17 days, through harsh cold and sleet, millions of Ukrainians staged nationwide nonviolent protests that came to be known as the ?orange revolution.? The entire world watched, riveted by this outpouring of the people?s will in a country whose international image had been warped by its corrupt rulers. By the time victory was announced?in the form of opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko?s electoral triumph?the orange revolution had set a major new landmark in the postcommunist history of eastern Europe.
Adrian Karatnycky1

Launched almost 5 years ago, the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) is a U.S.-led campaign with the twin aims of ending international terrorism through the defeat of terrorist groups, and ending state sponsorship of terrorism. This protracted struggle has taken many forms, ranging from U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq to the promotion of democracy in unstable regions. There is a recognition within the U.S. Government that, ultimately, progress in defeating terrorist networks and groups, as well as ending state sponsorship of terrorism, will be dependent upon the ?sustained efforts of a global coalition.?2

Located at the crossroads of Europe between east and west, Ukraine?s pivotal location and recent path towards democracy mean that this state has the potential to play an important role in the global coalition in combatting both regional and international terrorism. Ukraine can contribute to the U.S.-led struggle against international terrorism in two ways. First, the consolidation of democracy and democratic control over its armed forces will allow Ukraine to be a force for stability in the Eurasian region. It will give Ukraine the authority and credibility to play a diplomatic and peacekeeping role in ?frozen conflicts? in the former Soviet Union. Ukraine can make a second contribution to the U.S.-led defeat of international terrorism through the development of its peacekeeping forces. However, if Ukraine is to realize its potential as an effective U.S. ally in the war on terrorism, it needs to make considerable progress in its military transformation. Successful military transformation, which intrinsically is linked to democratization in Ukraine, will allow Ukraine to continue to provide niche capabilities, with well-trained and fully equipped peacekeeping troops able to contribute to the international struggle for peace and stability.

The Ukrainian government clearly is interested in realizing this potential to contribute to the war on terrorism. The new Ukrainian president, Viktor Yushchenko, has confirmed his government?s commitment to fighting international terrorism. After the bomb attacks in London in July 2005, Yushchenko stated that terrorism was ?a common challenge for every country which requires a common solution.?3 He called on all countries of the world to unite to stop the threat of terrorism. Then in September 2005, Ukraine signed the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism at the United Nations (UN) Summit.4 In a statement after the signing, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk stressed Ukraine?s readiness to cooperate with the international community in developing and implementing effective and practical measures to combat the terrorist threat.5

In theory, then, Ukraine has a role to play as a U.S. partner in combatting terrorism. However, declarations of political support do not equate automatically to a substantial capability to act. The author argues that progress in military and democratic transformation will be important factors in determining the extent to which Ukraine will be a reliable partner in the struggle against terrorism. The shape of military transformation also will affect the nature of the military contribution that Ukraine can make, especially in the provision of niche capabilities such as peace support operations. Ukraine has made considerable progress towards developing effective, well-trained, and professional peacekeeping forces able to contribute to stabilization operations as required by the international community to facilitate peace and stability. However, it is clear that, at present, Ukrainian forces lack the training and capability to perform ?strategic peacekeeping? operations.6 Stabilization operations in Iraq have demonstrated that there is a need for future coalition members to develop the capability for full-spectrum military activities beyond traditional peacekeeping. The changing nature of contemporary conflicts means that there is a need for members of the international community to deploy forces that are able to engage in peace building, peace enforcement, and traditional peacekeeping roles simultaneously. Currently, Ukrainian peacekeepers lack the capability and training for anything more than rigid adherence to traditional peacekeeping tasks. Effective and well-funded defense reform in Ukraine will give the Ukrainian forces the capability to perform more complex tasks and be a more reliable partner in the war on terror. Paradoxically, however, democratization in Ukraine, which will provide one of the key catalysts for greater military effectiveness, may weaken its political commitment to deploy forces into high-risk environments.

ENDNOTES

1. Adrian Karatnycky, ?Ukraine?s Orange Revolution,? Foreign Affairs, Vol. 84, No. 2, March/April 2005, p. 33.

2. ?Executive Summary, Attacking Terrorist networks at home and Abroad,? Progress Report on the Global war on Terrorism, The White House, www.whitehouse. gov/homeland/progress/summary.html.

3. ?Ukraine Leader Urges Fighting Terrorism Together After London Blasts,? Ukrainian news agency UNIAN, Kiev, in Ukrainian, July 8, 2005, as reported in BBC Monitoring.

4. ?Ukraine Signs UN Nuclear Terrorism Convention,? Interf ax-Ukraine news agency, Kiev, in Russian, September 14, 2005, as reported in BBC Monitoring.

5. Ibid.