National security & defense

1. Evaluation of reform policies of the Parliament and Government during the period of September 2019 – January 2020 and its compliance with the Toronto Principles (based on the analysis of the Government Program, the plans of the ministries and the adopted/rejected regulatory acts)

Power transformations in Ukraine following the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections has brought a new dynamic to the development of the security and defence sector. A number of important steps have been taken to modernize the system of social protection and state support for veterans and their families. During September 2019 – January 2020, the governing team tried to give a new impetus to the reform of the defence sector in those areas that had previously been ignored by the Ukrainian authorities. Hence, the main steps of the authorities in the field of security and defence were:

  • developing security and defence based on the NATO standards;
  • reloading foundational documents in the field of security and defence (based on the ongoing defence review), in particular preparation of a new version of the National Security Strategy;
  • amending the Law on Defence of Ukraine in terms of developing the Defence Plan of Ukraine;
  • adoption of the draft Law on Defence Procurement, which introduces best Euro-Atlantic practices to the sphere of defence procurement in Ukraine;
  • creation of the Ministry of Strategic Industries of Ukraine in accordance with the requirements of the Law on National Security, which should become the main coordinator of the reform and development of the defence industry;
  • the elaboration by the Parliament of the Intelligence Bill (No. 2412-d), which should ensure the effective use of domestic intelligence agencies in the face of Russian aggression;
  • the publication by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine of their vision for the development of the Armed Forces for the next 10 years;
  • Adoption of Law No. 2045-1 on the recognition of volunteers as combatants within the framework of modernization of the system of social protection and state support of the veterans and their families;
  • legislative regulation (Law No. 2743-VIII) of the legal status of foreigners and stateless persons who participated in the war against Russia;
  • launching the reform of the Ukroboronprom State Concern in accordance with the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance in State-Owned Enterprises, including the launch of its international financial audit.

The new government generally maintained a course of reform to build effective and accountable institutions, develop Ukraine's defence and security capabilities based on the NATO standards, guarantee the citizen's personal security and rights and freedoms with civil society involvement, and create an effective system of democratic civic and public control.

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2. Current challenges / issues in the relevant policy area

Russian aggression creates a powerful set of threats and directly affects the reforms in the security and defence sectors. In addition, September 2019 – January 2020 was characterized by a transit of power, resulting in a revision of the main directions of security reforms, which has led to certain inhibition of practical changes in this area.

The challenging issues of the reform issues are:

  • lack of effective mechanisms and tools to overcome the latest hybrid challenges and threats;
  • introduction of long-term planning focused on the development of defence and security capabilities;
  • introduction of coordinated programme documents for reforming the Armed Forces of Ukraine, development of the defence industry and mobilization of the national economy;
  • creation of a governmental body responsible for state policy in the field of defence industry and defence market coordination;
  • lack of systematic steps to create an effective model of the armed forces on the basis of a professional core and voluntary territorial defence, as well as to introduce changes in the system of general conscription (effective intensive military training) with departure from ineffective repressive "Soviet" models;
  • lack of progress in reforming the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU);
  • insufficient effectiveness of the democratic civil control system in the field of security and defence;
  • renovating the system of state support for veterans;
  • systematization of the veterans' status (including those who contributed to protection of Ukraine and victims of the armed conflict);
  • complying with the requirements of Law No. 2684-VIII (effective from March 2019) to establish a Unified State Register of Veterans. Currently, there are no exact estimations of the number of persons who have the status of veterans and can claim one or another type of state support.

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3. Recommendations for priority actions in 2020-2021, in particular, for the agenda of Parliament's second session

The main objective of the current period is to complete the audit of security and defence sector reforms as quickly as possible and to develop updated foundational field-oriented documents with the introduction of new conceptual approaches to the development of the armed forces, special services, law enforcement and defence industry. The Law on National Security of Ukraine still remains the framework document for carrying out systemic reforms. The ultimate goal of the reforms should be to create a coherent national security and defence sector based on NATO standards, subjected to comprehensive democratic civilian oversight.

It is important to introduce long-term planning focused on the development of defence and security capabilities, as well as the establishment of a government body in the defence and industrial area.

Specific areas for security and defence reform in the near future should include:

  • adopting the law on intelligence, further reformation of the intelligence agencies, in particular in order to ensure democratic civilian oversight;
  • developing and adopting a new version of the Law on SSU in accordance with the provisions of the 2018 Law on National Security and the recommendations of our Western partners;
  • adopting a Defence Procurement Law to implement best practices in defence procurement in Ukraine;
  • creating an effective model of country defence based on a professional core, voluntary territorial defence, and a change in the system of general conscription, while introducing the enrolment forms that might entice the Ukrainian citizens into military service;
  • start of the process of corporatization of the State Ukroboronprom Concern in accordance with the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance at State-Owned Enterprises with the adoption of necessary legislative changes;
  • adopting a new law on the protection of classified information that complies with Euro-Atlantic principles of transparency and openness of public information;
  • conducting the audit and proper registration of land and property of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, systematizing the electronic register and making necessary changes to the relevant legal acts;
  • conducting an audit of the existing housing queue, introducing an electronic queue, developing an alternative model of social security for service persons and their families and making the necessary changes to the relevant legal acts;
  • among the possible options for improving the civil control system in accordance with NATO principles could be: establishment of an independent state institute of military ombudsman; extension of powers of relevant committees of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (VRU); establishment of an appropriate democratic civil control service under the responsibility of the VRU (should have the authority to investigate various security and defence issues on behalf of the VRU or relevant committees). Such an institution can also be an important tool in counteracting corruption in the field of national security and defence;
  • adoption of the Law on the Status of Veterans and Members of the Families of Fallen Veterans in order to modernize the system of state support for veterans and their families remains a priority in the field of social security. The problem of legal status and social guarantees of persons deprived of their liberty as a result of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation needs to be resolved.

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Ihor Levchenko
Head of Strategic Modeling Section,
Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies
Mykhaylo Samus
Deputy Director for International Affairs,
Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies
Victorya Ivasyk
Legal Hundred
Ihor Koziy
Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation
Olena Trehub
Secretary General,
Independent Defence Anti-Corruption Committee (NAKO)
Organizations Support:
Reanimation Package of Reforms Coalition Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies Legal Hundred Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation Independent Defence Anti-Corruption Committee (NAKO)
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