Wednesday, 25 November

Behind somehow euphoric moods of last week, related to the fruitful work of the so-criticized parliament, finally was able to pass a law on the Supreme Anti-Corruption Court, more than two-thirds of the votes from the deputy composition, went unnoticed other important things of legislative activity. We are talking about the shield and sword of our state, without strong steel of which, there is no point in fighting with the same corruption. The adoption of the draft law “On National Security of Ukraine” is on the way.

To take the second step…

The importance of the document, on which the strength of our state depends, is difficult to overestimate. Moreover, in the current difficult conditions, when Ukraine has already been fighting for the fifth year against the Russian aggressor in Donbas, and annexed Crimea remains covered with a tricolor with a double-headed eagle. On the eve of summer holidays people’s deputies simply do not have the right to hesitate with voting.

However, the bill is not limited to problems of protecting the borders of our state and preserving its territorial integrity. Among the main issues are the reform of the work of the special services, the activities of the defense industry, Euro-Atlantic aspirations, cybersecurity. How about a quality of the document, proposed for adoption under the dome on Grushevsky?

More than two months ago the Verkhovna Rada voted in the first reading the draft law “On National Security of Ukraine“, initiated by the President, No. 8068. The other day the Parliament Speaker Andrii Parubiy expressed the hope that the document will be considered in the session hall at the next plenary week (June 19-23). So far, the Parliamentary Committee on national security and defense issues has been improving it.

True, the word “improvement” looks controversial, given the reaction of a member of the profile Committee Iryna Friz. Iryna advised readers of Opinion to turn to her post on Facebook from June 6. In the post, the people’s deputy assured that the committee members had received the text of the document that had been drafted by the working group 5 minutes before the meeting, and it does not correspond to the presidential bill – the voting basis.

“The working group has deleted from its editorial principals, in view of our aspirations and commitments for Euro-Atlantic integration, – Iryna Friz continued. – And vice versa, having put into the President’s bill incompatible with the Euro-Atlantic principle aspects”.

…taking into account the errors

According to Iryna, the text is unlikely to have a constructive discussion and support from the initiator of the draft law – the President, and it is doubtful that our foreign partners will support it. She summed up: “The text, adopted in the first reading, is much more qualitative and understandable given the implementation of security and defense sector reforms in accordance with NATO standards and criteria”.

“Iryna Friz is a member of the working group, – explained the head of the group Ivan Vinnyk, Secretary of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on National Security and Defense. – She was never at a meeting, therefore, perhaps her comments are incorrectly formulated. The fact that the text was distributed in 5 minutes, it really is so, but the group worked for a week, and those, who wished, could take part in it. Just as the representatives of NATO, the American Embassy, ​​the EU Advisory Mission participated in the work”.

At the same time, Mr. Vinnyk admitted that the criticism is mainly constructive, but the search for a compromise between the requirements of the Ukrainian Constitution and the representatives of NATO continues. And he is convinced that a compromise will be found.

People’s deputy Oksana Yurynets, chairman of the subcommittee on regional and cross-border cooperation between Ukraine and EU countries of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on European Integration, assured Opinion: “Dozens of amendments are being considered. Remember the story as amended by the Anti-Corruption Court Act? More than 1600! They consulted and argued, but came to the account of the remarks, both of the deputy corps and of the partners, and, as a result, made a decision. I am convinced that after the second reading of the draft law on national security neither the EU Delegation and NATO in Ukraine, nor the US Embassy will not have serious comments on the document”.

Remarks are sufficient

The text of the Law, presented by Ivan Vinnyk at a meeting of the relevant Committee on June 6 and posted for public review, caused many questions of specialists. According to Mykola Beleskov, Deputy director of the Institute for World Politics, the text is not fully developed.

“For example, there is only the title of an article on the role of local government bodies, and what their role really is, is unclear, – the expert said to Opinion. – Also, there are no final provisions, that is, how the adoption of the law is correlated with the current legislation. In one section, the powers of the President, the National Security and Defense Council, the Cabinet of Ministers, which are in the Constitution and other laws are listed; the prosecutor’s office, the court, the NBU were added for some reason. What is their role, again, is unclear.

If we compare the structure of what the profile Committee proposed, and what was introduced by the President and voted for in April, then the presidential text had a clear, logical, non-contradictory structure. First, the basis, what Ukraine is guided in the sphere of national security and defense policy, then the problems of civil democratic control, the system of national security and defense bodies and the issues of doctrinal planning. It’s somehow illogical, some structure has been changed, and something new has been added, even a whole section, in which there is no point”.

“Let it be in this form, but it is necessary to adopt the bill in order to support legally the changes that have accumulated, – Ihor Romanenko, the lieutenant-general of the reserve, a military expert, shared his thoughts with Opinion. – It will not be final yet, but the necessary push”.

The EU and NATO

The text of the Law from the working group practically ignores the Euro-Atlantic integration aspirations of Ukraine. Iryna Vereshchuk, the president of the International Center for Baltic-Black Sea Studies, underlined to Opinion, what is appropriate to include in the document:

“These issues really belong to the foundations of our national security. Is it possible to achieve success on this difficult path? I am a supporter of another approach: according to the patterns of the Baltic States of the 90s. Thus, in 1998, the Baltic Charter was drafted and signed, which provided for closer cooperation in many areas, including defense, from the United States. They pledged to control and finance hundreds of programs that would help reform the Armed Forces, law enforcement agencies, overcome corruption and the like. The result: these states are both in the EU and in NATO”.

The reality of achieving membership in the EU and NATO can be checked on specific things. This opinion was expressed by Oksana Yurynets. As an example, it leads to a visa-free regime. Like, Ukraine has shown Western partners the ability to fulfill its promises, having overcome on this path almost one hundred and fifty demands of the European Union.

“It’s the same with EU membership, – Oksana continued. – We need persistent daily work, and the result will not be long in coming. According to NATO. We just returned from the spring session of the Parliamentary Assembly in Warsaw. Ukraine and the Russian-Ukrainian war is one of the top topics. We have strong support. Especially on the part of Poland, Lithuania and Canada. Last year our delegation brought the right to host the session of the NATO PA in 2020 in Kyiv. And about. The President of the NATO PA Rasa Jukneviciene visited Lviv. This brings us step by step closer to achieving the goal. In NATO understand that we stand on the outpost of protecting the security and freedom of Europe. But membership is a huge list of different technical moments, approvals, bringing many things to the standards of the alliance”.

Army and special services

The authors of the document paid most attention to the security and defense sectors. In particular, the Armed Forces, their leadership, the subordination of senior army officials to the first persons of the state. For example, the Minister of Defense and his deputies should be appointed from civilians.

“It seems to correspond to Western standards, but there are warnings about the appointment of the candidature itself, – said Dmytro Sniegyryov to Opinion, co-chairman of the Civic Initiative “Prava Sprava”. – In the conditions of the modern political structure of Ukraine, the position of civilian minister is rather a decoration than a real influence on decision-making”.

Viktor Yagun, Major-General of the SSU in reserve and former deputy head of the SSU, noted that the national security system should be clear and understandable. There are many different law enforcement agencies that duplicate each other, their actions are not always coordinated, there is unhealthy competition.

“First, we need to change our national defense, the security system, because without it, it’s impossible to talk about such things as state sovereignty, – said Mr. Yagun. – Secondly, it is necessary to complete the reform of the bodies and build this clear structure. We actually do not have any reformed special services. We saw some reform of the Prosecutor General’s Office and the National Police. The rest of the organs fell out of this process”.

The SSU needs to be reformed. It is important that instead of the special services not create a special law enforcement agency, because all the existing problems will remain. In other bodies, it is necessary to transfer not only functions, but also certain persons, who deal with issues of corruption and economic security.

“With regard to this legislative act, we are talking about parliamentary control, the creation of an appropriate committee for effective control of the intelligence agencies, – Viktor Yagun assured. – Because we have such a system, when in fact only the President can not only control, but also influence and act at his own discretion, managing these structures. This is impossible in a democratic country”.

“The main changes that cause contradictions and criticism of Western partners are not accountability and non-transparency of the activities of the Security Service, – said Dmytro Sniegyryov. – The Security Service will be considered as one of the main instruments and levers of influence in the future presidential and parliamentary elections. It is worth recalling that the so-called supervisory board of the SSU actually ceased its work. And this is the main point – not accountability and non-transparency of the activities of the Security Service. For the recent events (the affairs of Ruban and Babchenko) have shown, it is said, rather, about theatrical performances than the real work of the special services”.

War and Peace

And while parliamentarians are working on security issues and defensive documents, the war continues. We heard a lot about the fact the Ukrainian military have their hands tied by various agreements, in particular the Minsk agreements. For victory, we must advance, liberate the occupied territories and enter our own borders. And how to do this, when it is forbidden even to respond adequately to the shelling of the enemy?

“At the tactical level, and the command of the United forces has already begun to make it, we must move to active defense, – explained Ihor Romanenko. – This means that for every offensive, firing, we must actively respond, to the destruction of everything that was shot at us, despite the negotiations and agreements. If we do not do this, we will be buried in the trenches. It’s on a tactical level. At the strategic and operational levels, it is necessary to build a mobile defense, with appropriate training and reserves. While we do not fully do this. And Putin is overacting us in strategy”.

One of the main reforms is to separate the General Staff from the command of the Armed Forces. The Chief of the General Staff should deal with strategy and training, and the Commander-in-Chief at the head of the operational headquarters – current affairs with direct application of the Armed Forces.

“The bill on national security does not have a clear roadmap for resolving the issue of the liberation of the occupied territories in the East and annexed Crimea, – Dmytro Sniegyryov said. – It’s about countering armed aggression, and not about step-by-step acting”. Even offered Avakov’s program is not a way out of the situation, not a return of sovereignty. This, rather, should be considered as the moment of the beginning of the election campaign. And when there is no understanding in the higher echelons of power, then everything else is nothing more than a violent imitation of activity”.

Will they find voices?

Ivan Vinnyk is convinced that the draft Law “On National Security of Ukraine” will be adopted by the end of June, as was noted by Andrii Parubiy.

Dmytro Sniegyryov also has no doubts in this: “There will be voices. When the Government is interested in making certain decisions, voting on certain bills, the deputies will in a strange way mobilize and accept them. This indicates that the Parliament is actually operating in a manual management regime”.

However, the main issue is still not in the “accept – not accept”, but for what exactly people’s deputies will have to vote in the second reading.

“If they accept what the profile Committee proposed, and not what was voted for in the first reading, then there is no sense for Ukraine to go to the NATO summit in July, – Mykola Beleskov emphasized. – There will be nothing to go with, as the adoption of the law, which should be based on a strategic defense bulletin in terms of creating a new command vertical, is one of the requirements of Western partners. A real way out of the situation is a complete visibility of what the Committee has proposed and a return to what was before, but with certain amendments”.

Text: Viktor Tsvilikhovsky

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