Ukrainian Navy: Reform and Euro-Atlantic Integration
3 December, 2018

Editor's Note: The following article was written by Captain Andriy Ryzhenko of The Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and is a part of the publication "Strategic Appraisal. Naval Forces of Ukraine. 2018."  It is reprinted with the authors' permission.

"Strategic Appraisal. Naval Forces of Ukraine. 2018" is prepared as a result of the Strategic Appraisal Seminar conducted in April 2018 by the Navy Headquarters of Ukraine and the U.S. Defense Governance and Management Team in the framework of the Navy Strategy 2035 project, with the financial support of the Swedish Armed Forces.

Ukrainian cooperation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) started immediately after the state became independent. As early as in 1994, Ukraine became the first country to join NATO Partnership for Peace Program. In 1997, Ukraine and NATO signed Charter on a Distinctive Partnership.

A Ukrainian naval officer salutes during The Sea Breeze 2018 international military exercises on July 16, 2018 in Odesa, Ukraine. Photo credit: Presidential Administration

Since then, military contacts with Alliance member-states has significantly intensified together with development of the multilateral format, as for instance, Ukraine-U.S. exercises Sea Breeze that have become traditional and are important for the Ukrainian Navy.

Joining NATO was defined as a strategic direction of Ukraine. But this direction has been diametrically changing for several times depending on political elites of Ukraine. In addition, Russia significantly influenced neighboring countries, creating all possible obstacles to them joining NATO. Ukraine felt it first and foremost, particularly after the Orange Revolution (2004).

In 2008 during NATO Summit in Bucharest, it was decided that Ukraine might join the Alliance after some reforms in our country.

Ukrainian Navy and NATO

Since 1994, Ukrainian Fleet has been actively participating in international exercises and trainings by NATO standards. Ukraine supported NATO and the European Union forces with its naval ships and marines during numerous security and rapid response operations. The most significant were contributions to the NATO operation “Active Endeavor” in the Mediterranean Sea and counter-piracy operations “Ocean Shield” (NATO) and “Atalanta” (EU) in the Gulf of Aden. Currently, Ukrainian Navy supports NATO in the “Sea Guardian” operation by means of information exchange. After official joining to this operation, it is possible that Ukrainian Navy units will be deployed for actions in the interests of this operation in the Mediterranean Sea.

A sailor of the Ukrainian Navy frigate Hetman Sahaidachnyi mans a machine gun as US Navy missile destroyer Donald Cook (DDG-75) is moored in the background during the Sea Breeze 2015 military drill opening ceremony at the Black Sea port of Odessa, Ukraine, 01 September 2015. EPA/ANDREW KRAVCHENKO / POOL

The Ukrainian Naval Forces demonstrated their capabilities in joint actions with Western partners and ensured national prestige, professional respect and weight. This positive contribution to the international activities is mentioned at international and political level on regular basis, and, beyond doubt, is the basis for important support that we currently receive from our Western partners.

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Ukrainian state receives regular requests from the NATO and the EU representatives regarding possibility of Ukraine to make its contribution to joint efforts for collective security, which is at present limited due to combat activity in Donbas and the necessity to protect Ukraine's own sovereignty. At the same time, Ukrainian Naval Forces remain ready not only for joint exercises, but also for joint peacekeeping operations, patrol, etc., due to the previous acquired experience of cooperation with NATO and selected Alliance member-states. New security challenges in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean regions may require joint actions in the future years.

Ukrainian Navy Reform

Since 2001, Ukrainian Navy specialists together with Alliance’s experts have started looking for ways for future development of the Ukrainian Navy. Until this time, there had been hardly any Armed Forces systematic defense planning in Ukraine, plans were created only for one year ahead. Fleet use was planned based on the list of vessels received after the division of the USSR Black Sea Fleet, rather than on consideration of existing tasks. NATO principles and standards were integrated on the tactical level of units.

A handout picture made available by the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine on 19 July 2016 shows soldiers raising their national flags during 'Sea Breeze 2016' a flag-raising ceremony at Shyrokyi Lan training field, near Odessa, Ukraine, 18 July 2016. About 4,000 military from Ukraine, the USA, Bulgaria, Britain, Greece, Georgia, Italy, Spain, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Turkey, Sweden, and Finland will join the exercise. More than 25 ships, boats and vessels, about 20 aircrafts and helicopters, more than 140 vehicles will be involved in the upcoming evolutions. Sea Breeze 2016 will be held on July 18-30. EPA/DEFENCE MINISTRY PRESS SERVICE / HANDOUT

Event of 2014 triggered an entire review of strategic documents in the area of national security, while joining NATO was identified as a strategic goal of the state policy of Ukraine.

Major NATO approaches and standards adaptation measures were reflected in the Strategic Defence Bulletin, under which the work is continued.

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It is important for Ukraine that not only separate member countries, but also NATO as an organization has become an active player in the Black Sea region to contain Russia`s aggressive ambitions and to restore stability and security in the region.

The Ukrainian Navy frigate Hetman Sahaidachnyi (R) and US Navy missile destroyer Donald Cook (DDG-75) are tied up during the Sea Breeze 2015 military drill opening ceremony at the Black Sea port of Odessa, Ukraine, 01 September 2015. EPA/ANDREW KRAVCHENKO / POOL

In 2015-2017 NATO increased presence of its regular units, vessels and number of exercises in the Black Sea region. The Ukrainian Navy at its end supports an idea to establish NATO naval group to protect marine traffic and security in the Black Sea. In addition, a possibility of joint actions in the Sea of Azov is being under consideration, especially in the issues of mine countermeasures and merchant shipping security.

NATO actively helps Ukrainian military in questions of the Armed Forces Reform. Ukrainian Navy prefers comprehensive approach shifting away from a tactic level of cooperation to an operational and a strategic level.

The prospective of NATO standards and principles adaptation is seen in three main components of the Ukrainian Navy combat potential.

First component – conceptual. First of all, this regards to the development of the middle and long term Navy Strategy and Concept, implementation of the new Navy management system and structure based on the NATO standards.

Management system should ensure Navy presence at the level of the Ministry of Defense/ General Staff for decision-making on Navy capabilities development. Vertical of force generation and their use should be shaped. This is a short-term issue and should signal about Ukraine’s meeting of the Strategic Defence Bulletin requirements.

In addition, this component includes NATO strategies and operational doctrine adaptation, entire opting out from the Soviet alternatives. The basis of the Armed Forces operational doctrine should include 46 Directives of NATO Joint Forces (AJP, Allied Joint Publications). The main guiding Navy document should be Maritime NATO Operations Directive AJP-3.1.

With this regard, central position is held by science of warfare and military educational institutions. It is critical to include these documents into training curriculums of the Ukrainian specialized higher educational institutions instead of the Soviet operational doctrine documents. This is a middle term issue.

Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk (3-R), Ukrainian Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak (R), commander of US 6th Fleet and commander of NATO's naval striking and support forces, Vice Admiral James Foggo (C), US ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt (4-L), the head of the Ukrainian navy Vice Admiral Serhiy Hayduk (2-L), walk past Ukraine's frigate 'Hetman Sahaidachny' during the Sea Breeze 2015 military drill opening ceremony at the Black Sea port of Odessa, Ukraine, 01 September 2015. EPA/ANDREW KRAVCHENKO / POOL

Furthermore, it is important to adapt staff culture and mentality typical for NATO. Their main characteristics are horizontal work and delegation of authority. It is likely that these measures are middle or even long term for Ukraine.

Second component – moral and psychological. First of all, this includes review of the entire social policy for service personnel protection with the purpose of their mobilization to fight for their country, creation of conditions for them and their families and motivation for service as a profession and desire to commit their lives for it.

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Upbringing of leaders who are respected by their subordinates, have managerial qualities to solve current issues, see potential and have ability to inspire their subordinates is another important aspect. Changes should should be completed in the middle term perspective but start immediately.

Third component – physical. It includes development of manpower, armaments, communication, integrated support system, combat readiness support – based on NATO standards. Some changes are already on the way and should be completed in the middle term.

These three Navy combat potential components should become integral parts of the Navy Strategy 2035. NATO standards adaptation and implementation are the basis for success of this work.

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