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Research Questions

  1. What institutions within Ukraine's security sector are in need of reform?
  2. What do these institutions need to accomplish?
  3. What gaps preclude these institutions from being effective, efficient, transparent, and accountable?
  4. What can be done to fill these gaps in ways that also align these institutions with Euro-Atlantic standards and approaches?

The Maidan Revolution in Ukraine created an opportunity for change and reforms in a system that had resisted them for the past quarter century. This report examines Ukraine's security sector, assessing what different institutions need to do and evaluating where gaps exist that preclude these institutions from being effective, efficient, transparent, and accountable. The report's recommendations for reforms in Ukraine's security sector suggest changes to fill those gaps in ways that align with Euro-Atlantic standards and approaches. These include clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the President, Cabinet of Ministers, the Ministry of Defense, and the General Staff; improving coordination and transparency among the security sector ministries and agencies; reorganizing and empowering the Ministry of Defense; and improving Ukraine's capabilities for warfighting.

Key Findings

Roles and Responsibilities Are Unclear

  • The roles and responsibilities of the President and Cabinet of Ministers are ambiguous and relationships with the Cabinet of Ministers are unwieldy.
  • There are gaps and overlaps in the functions performed by the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff.
  • Civilian control remains weak below the President and Cabinet of Ministers. Regulations and organizational culture tend to push routine decisions upward to at least the Deputy Minister level, contributing to a culture of avoiding responsibility.

Coordination Is Lacking Across the Sector

  • In Ukraine, ministries and agencies operate independently, with little accountability and coordination. They have their own resources, make their own decisions, and set their own tasks.
  • Sharing of information is inconsistent. Individual ministries or agencies fail to specialize and instead invest in broad ranges of capabilities.
  • Decisionmaking is often taken to the highest levels, overwhelming senior officials.
  • Organizations designed to coordinate ministries and agencies are weak or ineffective.

Recommendations

  • Define responsibilities and authorities of the security-sector leadership. The President should have responsibility for the defense of Ukraine against threats to its sovereignty and independence. Presidential responsibilities extend to the command and control of military operations and to policy control over the Ministry of Defence and General Staff. The Minister of Defense should be the senior official charged with making and carrying out the Ukrainian government's policy on defense; the chain of command should run from the President to the Minister of Defense, to the Chief of Defense Force, to the Joint Operational Command.
  • Improve coordination across the government by expanding the responsibilities of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine to include implementation of the President's decisions, expanding of the role of the Joint Committee on Intelligence, creating a new cybersecurity and defense structure under a Joint Committee on Cyber Security, and creating a committee to coordinate foreign defense assistance.
  • Reduce the size of the Security Service of Ukraine and clarify and narrow its authorities as a domestic intelligence organization, while retaining its responsibility for some law enforcement activities in coordination with other agencies.
  • Empower the Minister of Defense as senior civilian adviser to the President, Prime Minister, and Ukraine's parliament on defense policies; reorganize the Ministry of Defense into new departments aligned with roles to avoid the inefficiencies, establish the Chief of the Defense Forces as primary military adviser to the Minister and the President; and create a Joint Operational Command to centralize responsibilities for ongoing military operations.

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The research was prepared for the Ukraine Investment Alliance and conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).

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