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Kyiv Seminars for Senior UA MOD/JNSDC/MVD Officials

CUSUR & ‘Kyiv Seminars for Senior UA MOD/JNSDC/MVD Officials’ (2023)

The several visits of young, fresh minded, reform oriented UA military commanders and national security analysts to various top flight foreign policy think tanks and institutes of higher diplomatic or military learning in DC (prompted in good part by CUSUR invitations to its Occasional Briefings) in the latter part of 2014 prompted the UA MOD to propose a slightly different arrangement for similar discussions/conversations in 2015.

CUSUR was asked to see if key members of its US-UA Working Group might not be interested in spending a week of their time engaged in discussions in Kyiv ‘devoted to the art of strategic & tactical planning in the face of a new form of warfare not yet understood by the most able students of military science’. A number of the Center’s partner organizations were approached as well.

The response by all parties involved was in the affirmative. And a plan was hatched with the understanding that matters needed to be expedited sooner rather than later. CUSUR (and its closest partner, the AFPC) agreed to organize at least three visits to Ukraine (2015, 2016, 2017, 2021). The head of CUSUR’s Washington Bureau, Mykola Hryckowian, was involved in the first excursion; AFPC President Herman Pirchner was involved in the second and the third; both were involved in last year’s mission. The third (June 2017) included representatives from a number of the finest think tanks in DC: American Foreign Policy Council; Jamestown Foundation; Hudson Institute; Heritage Foundation and the Potomac Foundation. Their work proved extremely fruitful and confirmed that all parties were ready for a more formal ‘follow-up’ arrangement—a set of ‘lectures/colloquia’ conducted in Kyiv for Ukraine’s top level ‘security’ personnel.

In 2017, CUSUR (after studying several venues) settled on a venue for the stated project: the Kyiv Diplomatic Academy. During 2018-2019, several dozen senior UA MOD, MVD and NSDC officials were interviewed to participate in the projected lecture series; equally, several of the finest students of ‘the contemporary art of war’ hailing from the US, Canada and EU were asked to partake in the process as instructors. The spring of 2020 was targeted as the time the ‘colloquia’ would commence their work. The pandemic slowed the process in the latter half of 2020 and throughout 2021 and the RU-UA war put a full stop to effort in 2022, but the Center is convinced that work in the area can recommence in spring 2023. AFPC and Jamestown Foundation have already broached the matter with the Center and thoughts on the best way to proceed (in lieu of the continuing issues with the war) have been exchanged.

Given CUSUR’s increasing involvement in Kyiv-centered projects, the issue of opening a fully operational Kyiv CUSUR office was touched upon once more in the 2019-2021 period. The Center decided to give the matter very serious consideration; a project director, Ms. Chrystina Balko, was appointed and tasked to find a premise that would serve as Kyiv CUSUR office and conference space. in January 2022, a space was found (on Kyiv’s “Embassy Row”) that fit all CUSUR’s needs, but again the RU-UA war put a stop to any further activity in the matter. And again, CUSUR intends to see if 2023 will allow resumption of work in that direction.

A final note: At the various forums and pandemic-induced webinars that were held by the Ukrainian World Congress around the world in 2017-2022, there was much talk, especially among representatives of Ukrainian hromadas in English speaking countries, of taking a page out of CUSUR’s history and setting up a series of kindred institutions —i.e.—creating NGOs like the “Institute for Australian-Ukrainian Affairs” or the “UK-Ukraine Foundation”. In 2023 (as Canada and Australia emerge fully from the mega lockdowns, CUSUR is gearing up to provide as much aid as needed to make creation of such entities a reality).