International Week in Kyiv – 14 Edition, Kyiv (Ukraine)
14th International Kyiv Week
The 14th Annual Kyiv Week Conference, jointly organized by the NATO Defense College (NDC) and the National Defence University of Ukraine (UNDU), with the support of NATO School Oberammergau (NSO), took place from 7 to 11 April 2014.
Traditionally held at the UNDU in Kyiv, the International Week contributes to deeper understanding of NATO’s mission, organization, operations, partnerships, cooperation and future priorities. This year, the main topic was “NATO – after Afghanistan”, but there was also discussion of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Reported reactions to the illegal and illegitimate so-called referendum of 16 March and incidents in the cities of eastern Ukraine cities have been in the news every day, absorbing the attention of the audience at the 14th Kyiv International Week.
Activities at the UNDU during the week further underline the importance of strong partnership between NATO and Ukraine, which has been a member state of the Partnership for Peace since 1994. Over the years, mutual respect has deepened and strong military bonds have been built: the recent modernization of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has been undertaken with NATO’s support, especially in terms of professional education and training.
The Kyiv International Week is the most important part of the NDC’s Outreach programme. As the Alliance’s leading academic institution, the NDC’s mission is to provide strategic-level education; currently, an important part of this work is conducted in support of the Connected Forces Initiative (CFI). Ukraine, as a long-standing partner, is part of the NDC’s “Connected Education” activities: the International Kyiv Week thus makes a major contribution to shaping the contemporary security environment and introducing new approaches to the decision- making process in the Alliance as well in Partner Nations.
This year’s International Week was opened by the Commandant of the UNDU, LtGen Vasyl M. Telelym, and the Dean of the NDC, Dr Daria Daniels Skodnik (SVN C). The keynote address on “NATO’s Partnership Framework” was given by the Polish Ambassador to Ukraine, H.E. Henryk Litwin.
Looking back over the programmes from previous courses, Dr Daniels Skodnik highlighted the continuing development of the curriculum and the balanced insight it offers into NATO’s internal and external dynamics. She pointed out that not only NATO as a whole but also individual Allies and Partners can benefit considerably from exchanges of this kind.
The first lecture of the conference was given by Dr Jeffrey Larsen (USA C), Head of the NDC Research Division, who spoke about “NATO Past, Present, Future”. Dr Larsen described the evolution of NATO, focusing on contemporary and emerging challenges. NDC Researcher Dr Heidi Reisinger (DEU C) then presented an overview of the history and development of the Partnership for Peace (PfP), the Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI), as well as NATO’s partnerships with Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia.
The second day of the conference was devoted to the themes of terrorism and the ISAF mission. LtCol Brian Bengs (USA F) of NSO spoke about “Legal issues in combatting terrorism”, stressing the shortcomings of existing international law in addressing terrorist threats and discussing obstacles to the development of a new and more effective international legal framework for preventing terrorism. LtCol Gene Geraci (USA M) of NSO then examined lessons learned from the ISAF mission, focusing on the critical staff intelligence function and the change in emphasis as peacekeeping, development and stability operations move to the fore. The afternoon was appropriately rounded off by very rewarding Committee discussions. A further highlight of a very busy day was a visit to the Ukrainian Diplomatic Academy by a delegation from the NDC, including a presentation on “NATO’s post-2014 Strategic Narrative” by NDC Dean Dr Daniels Skodnik.
Next day, LtCol Bengs gave another extremely important lecture on cyber threats and related legal issues, stressing NATO’s efforts in identifying and crafting internationally acceptable legal standards for national responses to cyber threat situations. A detailed introduction to the NATO crisis management system was given by Peter Kemp (GBR RM), who also spoke about the Alliance’s operational planning process. After this, LtCol Geraci gave an update on the scheduled follow-on mission in Afghanistan, Operation Resolute Support.
Prof Grigory Pereplytsia (UKR C), Director of the Ukrainian Diplomatic Academy, concentrated on NATO-Ukraine relations, key areas of cooperation and prospects for future development, highlighting NATO’s interest in modernization, preservation of democracy and security reform in Ukraine. The speaker underlined the value of strong partnership for both Ukraine and NATO. During the ensuing Q&A session, the lecturer engaged with UNDU students on the complementary roles played by military readiness and diplomacy.
The final address, on “NATO-Ukraine Military Cooperation”, was provided by Air Marshal Sir Christopher Harper (GBR F), Director General of the International Military Staff at NATO HQ. He spoke at length about Ukrainian participation in NATO missions, before examining what NATO is currently doing to support Ukraine. The Q&A session was lively and thought-provoking.
Closing remarks were given by NDC Commandant LtGen Arne Bård Dalhaug (NOR A) and UNDU Commandant LtGen Vasyl Telelym. In his speech, LtGen Dalhaug dwelt on the many learning opportunities offered by the International Week, and the importance of the strong bonds between the NDC and the UNDU. The programme for the week reflected an interesting mix of operational topics and the specifics of NATO’s relations with Ukraine. Both Commandants expressed their will to continue this fruitful and rewarding cooperation.
The week was a great success, confirming that this international gathering remains a cornerstone of NATO-Ukraine relations, particularly in the current circumstances. Both the NDC and the UNDU now look forward to another inspiring International Kyiv Week in 2015.