“We are all in it, together with Ukraine”

July 23, 2023

The EU’s Civilian Operations Commander, Stefano Tomat, arrived in Kyiv on 19 July for a two-day stay, following his visit to Southern Ukraine.

During his stay in the capital, he met with senior officials from the Mission’s Ukrainian interlocutors such as the Office of the Prosecutor General, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine.

Law Enforcement Reform for EU Accession

Implementing the Overarching Strategy (OAS) for reforming Ukraine’s law enforcement sector was one of the main topics of the deliberations. The strategy has been approved by President Zelenskyy earlier this year and its successful implementation is one of the prerequisites to Ukraine’s accession to the EU. As of now, the Ukrainian government is working on the Action Plan for its implementation, which EUAM Ukraine stands ready to back.

During his meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, Olga Stefanishyna, Mr Tomat confirmed the EU’s continued support for the Ukrainian government’s efforts in reforming Ukraine’s law enforcement sector to align with EU standards. This support includes engaging the expertise of EUAM Ukraine, particularly in advising on the adaptation of Ukrainian legislation to EU law in the field of civilian security.

Olga Stefanishyna, reiterated the importance of preparing the Action Plan to transform law enforcement agencies, not only in the context of EU membership but also for ensuring a sustainable security policy within the country. Also, she noted, as Ukraine transitions from wartime to peacetime, the reform process will be complex and require international experience and support.

Oleksiy Serhiyev, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, expressed gratitude to the Mission’s experts for their work on the draft Action Plan, which will be submitted to the Government in two months.

The Prosecutor General, Andriy Kostin, also welcomed EU assistance in implementing the OAS and seeking justice for international crimes committed during the Russian aggression against Ukraine.


EU Support to Conquering the Challenges of Russian Aggression

The Russian aggression against Ukraine has resulted in multiple deliberate attacks on civilians, including killings, sexual violence, and torture. As more territories are liberated, evidence of these crimes is overwhelming the Ukrainian judicial and law enforcement system. Since the early days of Russia’s unjustified aggression against Ukraine, EUAM Ukraine has provided advice to the Office of Prosecutor General (OPG) and regional prosecution services on general investigation and prosecution strategies concerning International Crimes committed in Ukraine.

During the meeting with the Prosecutor General, Andriy Kostin, the EU Civilian Operations Commander and the EUAM Ukraine team discussed the key challenges arising from the Russian aggression, including the protection of victims of war crimes. The EU CivOpsCdr confirmed that the Mission, as part of its engagement in Ukraine, will support the Ukrainian government’s efforts in restoring justice for those who have suffered crimes from the Russian aggressors.

When touching on the issue of International Crimes at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Igor Klymenko thanked European partners for their comprehensive assistance to Ukraine amid the Russian invasion and their condemnation of the aggressor’s actions on the international stage. The Minister of Internal Affairs emphasized that continuous coordination of actions has helped Ukraine navigate through crisis situations at the beginning of the invasion and rapidly learn not only to confront the enemy, but also to document the war crimes committed by the Russian army.


Addressing Illegal Weapons Proliferation

Combating trafficking and smuggling of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) is an area of focus for the EU due to the risk of increased proliferation of illegal weapons within Europe. To effectively combat trafficking and smuggling of SALW, the adoption of relevant legislation, in line with the EU Firearms Directive, is imperative.

The European Commission proposed 11 steps to combat such crimes, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MoIA) has a draft plan for their implementation, said Oleksiy Serhiyev, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine. According to him, effective implementation of these steps requires the maximum involvement of EU institutions. Subsequently, EUAM Ukraine stands ready to continue supporting its Ukrainian counterparts in this effort.


Enhancing Capabilities in the Liberated Territories

Speaking to interlocutors in the MoIA, Stefano Tomat stressed the EU’s attention towards Ukraine’s needs in the current tragic situation, and the EU’s constant evaluation of strategies aiming at enhancing the capabilities of civilian security sector agencies, particularly due to their institutional role and first access into liberated territories.

Adding a perspective from the ground, Rolf Holmboe, Head of EUAM Ukraine, underlined the Mission’s continuous interaction with partners in the liberated and adjacent territories. This engagement allows for identifying a wide range of needs to be addressed, including providing law enforcers with the necessary equipment.

Concluding his stay to Kyiv, Stefano Tomat met with EUAM Ukraine’s mission members, expressing his gratitude for their dedication and presence on the ground amidst difficult circumstances. “We are all in it, together with our Ukrainian friends” was the message sent by the CivOpsCdr. A view very much shared by the Mission’s leadership and staff.

*Stefano Tomat also holds the title of Managing Director for the European Union’s civilian crisis management missions.