Seimas delegation of the Committee on National Security and Defence visited Ukraine

Press release, 6 November 2017

 

 

On 2–4 November 2017, the Seimas Committee on National Security and Defence paid a visit to Ukraine. The delegation of the Committee led by Vytautas Bakas, Chair of the Committee, was made up of 7 out of a total of 10 members of the Committee, including Marius Janukonis, Lithuanian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Ukraine.

 

Photo of the Embassy of Lithuania to Ukrain

 

On their first day of the visit in the capital city of Kyiv, the delegation had meetings with Oleksandr Turchynov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine; Ivan Rusnak, First Deputy Minister of Defence of Ukraine; Vasyl Hrytsak, Head of the Security Service of Ukraine; Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine; and Members of the Committee on National Security and Defence of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

 

On the second day of the visit, the delegation travelled to the city of Sievierodonetsk, which has become the provisional capital of Luhansk Region, following the occupation of the capital Luhansk by separatists supported by Russia. The delegation also visited the so-called contact line, separating the government-controlled territory from the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic – the territory seized by the separatists – where they met with border guards and soldiers of Ukraine.

 

Vytautas Bakas (on the left) and  Ivan Rusnak. Photo of the Office of the Seimas

 

At the meetings with Ukrainian government representatives, the delegation was interested to learn about the progress of reforms in Ukraine, particularly the defence reform in line with NATO’s democratic standards of the military’s subordination to civilian authority. They equally inquired about the economic situation in the country, fight against corruption, and input of Lithuanian civilian and military advisers in reforming the armed forces of Ukraine.

 

At the meetings, Mr Bakas emphasised that Lithuania was aware of the grave difficulties the war-stricken Ukraine was facing and fully supported it in both international and bilateral formats. Lithuania will continue to speak in favour of a clearer perspective of European integration for Ukraine and continuity of sanctions against Russia. However, it is important for Ukraine to demonstrate not only its resolve to pursue reforms but also tangible results of reform implementation in order to achieve a positive outcome at the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit on 24 November 2017 and prepare for the international donor conference planned in early 2018.

 

In return, the Ukrainian government officials expressed their gratitude to Lithuania for its unwavering and clear position on the sanctions against Russia, consistent support for Ukraine in the international arena, and specific input in reforming the Ukrainian military, especially its sergeant chain of command, based on a modern training methodology.

 

When referring to a UN resolution on deployment of UN peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine, as proposed by Russia, Mr Turchynov noted that Ukraine would only approve of such peacekeeping mission if it was aimed at ensuring the control of the border between Ukraine and Russia. As a compromise, Ukraine could consider the possibility of the UN peacekeeping mandate covering the whole of the occupied territory of eastern Ukraine. However, Ukraine will never agree to having Russia or peacekeepers of the countries dependant on Russia conducting the mission.

 

Ukraine is pushing through large-scale reforms in a number of sectors, with mixed reactions often leading the results of the reforms, though. The Ukrainian authorities maintain that the international community is affected by massive propaganda and fake news aimed at discrediting the reforms in Ukraine.

 

Currently, Ukraine, with the help of NATO advisers, is drafting a key law on national security, which should lay down the democratic principles of the military’s governance and its subordination to civilian authority. NATO’s assessment of reforms in Ukraine and further support for Ukraine may largely depend on the establishment of these principles in the draft law.

 

At the meetings with the Ukrainian officials, the delegation of the Committee also heard some contradicting views on the draft law on national security. Some Ukrainian officials were concerned about the defence reform harming the combat readiness of the army, which is currently far better than it was at the beginning of the aggression against Ukraine.

 

At the meeting with the leadership of the administration of Sievierodonetsk, the delegation discussed the prospects of closer cooperation at the municipal level between Lithuania and Ukraine, particularly in the areas of education, science and medicine. Having arrived at the contact line, members of the delegation talked to the Ukrainian soldiers and border guards on duty there and presented them with some small gifts.

 

Photo of the Office of the Seimas

 

On their final day of the visit, the delegation laid flowers at the memorial to the fallen heroes of Maidan, visited the exposition on Konstanty Ostrogski, Grand Hetman of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, displayed in the monastery complex of Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, and were informed about the draft project on the restoration of Ostrogski’s memorial tombstone that had been blown up during World War II.

 

Evaldas Sinkevičius, Adviser, Office of the Committee on National Security and Defence, tel. +370 5 239 6372, e-mail: evaldas.sinkevicius@lrs.lt

   Last updated on 11/09/2017
   Jolanta Anskaitienė