More than 100 days have passed since the President of Ukraine Yuschenko, in Brussels, reaffirmed his country's desire to integrate into NATO and other European and world structures. The notorious “multi-vector policy” of the former Ukrainian government has been left behind. On behalf of the new Ukrainian government the Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Borys Tarasyuk, stated that the days when Ukrainian officials reported about different country’s intentions in Washington, Brussels, and Moscow, are gone. By now there is no other aim for Ukraine than to move towards Euro-integration in both domestic and foreign policy.
Back in Kyiv, political and military officials of the country warmly appreciated the line of a new Ukrainian government. Head of Verkhovna Rada (Supreme Council of Ukraine), Volodymyr Lytvyn, has offered full congressional support for joining NATO and the EU. But rather than initial integration, people of Ukraine are interested in implementation of common democratic values in the country. The widespread fight against corruption and oligarchs in Ukraine meets resistance from the former “regime elites” from time to time. But the Ukrainian people who once surprised the world with their firm will, will not let the society return back to how things were before.
On the path to EU, Ukraine is drawing up a “Road Map” (the basic action plan) for the current year. President of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko has outlined this following his speech in the European parliament in Strasbourg. According to the Ukrainian President, among key provisions of the plan is to obtain a market economy nation status in the first half of the current year; to hold talks and to complete technical procedures for Ukraine’s entrance in World Trade Organization by November; to begin consultations on setting up a free trade zone between Ukraine and the EU; to sign agreements on a simplified visa regime; and to conform Ukrainian border and customs procedures with EU standards.
The initiatives of the new Ukrainian government were widely supported by the world community of nations. Ukraine appreciates understanding of its aspiration by all European leaders and U.S. President George Bush, who had signaled his country’s desire to see Ukraine in NATO and in the European community.
For Ukraine, the striving for democratic values also means acceleration in achieving its ultimate aim in Iraq – training the Iraqi troops as fast as possible to replace the Ukrainian peacekeeping contingent. By the mid of May 2005 Ukrainian military instructors manned and trained two infantry battalions for Iraqi Armed Forces’ 27th Infantry Brigade (totally more than 1,000 Iraqi soldiers), and about 350 personnel for the frontier guard, who already augment the Iraqi 3rd Frontier Guard Division.
That let Ukraine downsize the peacekeeping contingent since its last rotation in April. Now 864 soldiers of the 81st Detached Tactical Group (DTG), and 41 military advisors who serve in multinational headquarters of different military organizations, represent Ukraine in Iraq.
81st DTG includes administration staff, four airmobile, one reconnaissance and one military police companies, a mortar battery, engineering and chemical warfare platoons. Administration additionally includes units for government institutions’ support and military assistance, and two officers for religious issues. Apart from patrolling, cargo escort and camp defense, activity of the 81st DTG will be mainly focused on the enhancement of training for Iraqi troops. As Ukraine reduces its peacekeeping contingent little by little, coordinating this planning with other Coalition members, first of all Poland and the U.S., it will remain part of the Coalition until the mission in Iraq is accomplished.
In his first speech to the local population (Ukrainian peacekeeping contingent is located in Al Kut, Province of Wazit) Commander of 81st DTG, Major General Serhii Goroshnikov, in particular thanked the personnel of the recently rotated 7th Detached Mechanized Brigade (DMB) for the huge contribution made in maintaining peace and stability in the region.
The 7th DMB of about 1,500 personnel and 370 military vehicles commenced fulfilling its tasks in Iraq on September 22, 2004. During more than six months staying in Wazit its soldiers carried out 800 convoys and 4,500 patrols. Each of military drivers covered about 10,000 km (6,250 miles) of Iraqi roads, in total vehicles of 7th DMB covered more than 2,000,000 km (1,250,000 miles).
Additionally, 47 persons suspected of participation in terrorist activity were detained and passed to the local law enforcement organizations. A significant amount of weapons and ammunitions were confiscated. Acting together in cooperation with a Kazakhstan field engineering detachment, which was included in structure of 7th DMB, Ukrainian soldiers defused and destroyed more than 80,000 items of ammunition and unexploded ordnance that included shells, self-propelled and hand grenades, field mines, and air and mortar bombs.
The 7th brigade Civil-Military Cooperation detachment developed and completed more than 100 significant civilian projects, at a cost of more than $U.S. 3,7 million. Ukrainian soldiers helped Iraqis repair and refurbish schools, hospitals, kindergartens, and monuments; restore water-supply lines and sewer systems, supplied the local population with drinking water, provided local government organizations and media with furniture and office equipment. The Ukrainian military doctors from the brigade medical company treated more than 5,500 patients.
At the same time it must be remembered that nine Ukrainian soldiers of 7th Detached Mechanized Brigade have lost their lives, which extended Ukrainian losses in Iraq to a total 18 personnel.
Montana News Association