Support in challenging times: EU’s Civilian Operations Commander visits Ukraine

July 20, 2023

Stefano Tomat, the EU’s Civilian Operations Commander (CivOpsCdr), visits Ukraine for the second time since the full-scale invasion began. As the chief EU official overseeing 13 civilian CSDP missions across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, his presence carries significant importance.

Border Support in Odesa

Starting his visit in Odesa, on 17 July, Stefano Tomat met with senior members of the EU Advisory Mission (EUAM) Ukraine to be updated on the current situation and identify the best possible support the Mission can offer to Ukraine during these challenging times. A productive meeting was held with the regional Heads of the National Police (NPU), Security Service, Maritime Coast Guard Directorate of the State Border Guard Service, and the Deputy Head of the Ukrainian Sea Ports Administration (USPA) from the Odesa region.

The discussions delved into their activities, challenges, security concerns, and the crime situation in Odesa and the surrounding areas. With the Odesa port being pivotal to Ukraine’s war effort and future, especially when Kherson and Mykolaiv ports are not operational, the focus was on exploring how EUAM Ukraine’s attention could be channeled effectively through integrated border management. Aligning legislation and practice with the Schengen acquis around Odesa’s ports emerged as a key consideration, given Ukraine’s EU candidacy.

The parties also explored scenarios for blocked access to the Black Sea and the implications of the grain agreement’s expiry. Alternative options for increased trade and transport via the Danube and Moldova were presented, illustrating the joint effort to foster resilience and progress in the region.

Focusing on Liberated and Adjacent Territories

The following day, the delegation headed to Mykolaiv, a region liberated during the autumn of 2022. Both Mykolaiv and Kherson, part of the liberated and adjacent territories (LAT), face significant challenges from occupation, shelling, and recent flooding caused by the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam. EUAM Ukraine is determined to expand its presence in Mykolaiv and extend support to Kherson.

Currently, EUAM has begun implementing its pilot project on LAT in the small town of Snihurivka, situated in the Mykolaiv region. The project focuses on rebuilding infrastructure, enhancing police functions, upholding the rule of law, and more, aiming to create a safe and stable community environment. Stefano Tomat and the EUAM delegation visited Snihurivka to witness the project’s impact on the ground.

During the visit, the CivOpsCdr stressed the critical importance of establishing a safe and secure environment in the LAT. Providing essential services to the population and seeking justice for crimes committed, particularly International Crimes, collaboration cases, and environmental offenses, remain key priorities. The contribution and significance of local counterparts in restoring policing and the rule of law were highly respected and acknowledged.

EUAM Ukraine is committed to supporting the Ukrainian authorities in re-establishing normality. In this context, EUAM donated two armoured vehicles to the NPU in Mykolaiv and Kherson, empowering police officers to carry out their duties efficiently, effectively, and, most importantly, safely.

Southern Ukraine welcomed the CivOpsCdr warmly, though not without a reminder of the continued threats Ukraine lives in with overnight Russian air strikes. These events reaffirm the importance of unity and unwavering support for Ukraine’s victory. In these challenging times, the whole EU family, including EUAM Ukraine, continues to stand with Ukraine on its journey towards stability, resilience, and integration into Europe.

Meanwhile, Stefano Tomat and his team continue their trip throughout Ukraine.

EU CivOpsCdr and EUAM Ukraine delegation in Snihurivka
Stefano Tomat, EU CivOpsCdr, and Rolf Holmboe, Head of the Mission have a meeting with the representatives of Snihurivka Police Sub-Station
Rolf Holmboe, Head of the Mission (on the left), Anzor Maglaperydze, the Head of Snihurivka Police Sub-Station (in the center), Stefano Tomat, EU CivOpsCdr (on the right)
EU CivOpsCdr and EUAM Ukraine delegation meeting the representatives of the Main Directorate of NPU in Mykolaiv region
Serhii Shaikhet, the Head of Main Directorate of NPU in Mykolaiv region, and Stefano Tomat, EU CivOpsCdr after donation an armoured vehicle to the NPU in Mykolaiv region