Ukraine's Security Sector Needs Substantial Reform

For Release

October 5, 2016

Ukraine's security sector needs substantial reforms to enable it to become effective, efficient, transparent and accountable, a new RAND Corporation report asserts.

The report examines several aspects of Ukraine's security sector, assessing what different institutions need to do and where gaps exist. The RAND recommendations would fill those gaps in ways that align with Euro-Atlantic standards and approaches.

The roles and responsibilities of the Ukraine president and cabinet of ministers need to be clarified, researchers recommend. To better coordinate the activities of the key ministries and agencies, the authorities and capabilities of the Ukraine National Security and Defense Council need to be expanded to ensure that it can provide not only a forum for coordination, but also the ability to ensure that the president's decisions are executed on a day-to-day basis.

Researchers also recommended that the role of the Security Service of Ukraine needs to be revised and clarified as a domestic intelligence organization.

“Ukraine needs to empower the minister of defense as a senior civilian adviser to the president, prime minister and Ukraine's parliament on defense policies,” said Lynn Davis, a lead author on the report and senior fellow at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “The chain of military command should run from the president to the minister of defense, to the chief of defense forces.”

The Maidan revolution in Ukraine in March 2014 created an opportunity for change and reform in a system that has resisted reform for 25 years, according to the report. The Ukrainian security organizations proved unable to respond effectively to the emerging conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Though the Ukrainian security establishment has made some progress since 2014, especially with improving logistics, its efforts at reform have been insufficient to address the current and future threats facing the nation.

“Implementing these reforms will be extremely challenging,” said Andrew Radin, one of the authors and an associate political scientist at RAND. “The international community can provide continued assistance, but implementation lies in the hands of the Ukrainian government. In the end, the effectiveness of the reforms depends not only on putting appropriate institutions in place, but also on affecting sustainable shifts in bureaucratic culture, which may well prove even more challenging.”

The report, “Security Sector Reform in Ukraine,” can be found at Other authors of the report include Olga Oliker, Keith Crane, Celeste Ward Gventer, Susanne Sondergaard, James T. Quinlivan, Stephan B. Seabrook, Jacopo Bellasio, Bryan Frederick, Andriy Bega, and Jakub Hlavka.

The report was sponsored by the nonprofit foundation, Ukraine Investment Alliance.

The research was conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division. The division conducts research and analysis on defense and national security topics for the U.S. and allied defense, foreign policy, homeland security, and intelligence communities and foundations and other nongovernmental organizations that support defense and national security analysis.

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