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By James E. Brooks,
George C. Marshall European Center Public Affairs

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (July 24, 2017) – Fifteen senior leaders from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and General Staff, as well as two Ukrainian parliamentarians, traveled to the George C. Marshall European Center July 19-20, for a sixth seminar in a series of executive-level meetings to improve defense reform in that nation. 

art news 2 24 jul 17

Marshall Center Associate Dean Rick Steinke (right) moderates a discussion on defense reform during a two-day seminar designed to increase communications and cooperation between the Ukraine Ministry of Defense, General Staff and Parliament. The seminar was held July 19-20. This was the sixth seminar in a series of executive-level meetings to improve defense reform in that nation. Pictured on the left is Ukraine First Deputy Minister Ivan Rusnak. (Marshall Center photo by KarlHeinz Wedhorn).

The primary purpose of this seminar was to increase communications and cooperation between the Ministry of Defense, General Staff and Parliament. The agenda included discussions on key reform challenges between the military and parliament and examining ways to propose and adopt solutions for improving cooperation.

Attendees included First Deputy Minister of Defense Gen. Ivan Rusnak and Deputy Chief of Defense Gen. Lt. Serhii Bessarab. Deputy Speaker of Parliament Oksana Syroyid and Taras Pastukh represented the Ukrainian parliament. Several colonels from the Ukraine Ministry of Defense and General Staff attended as did representatives from U.S. Embassy Kiev, U.S. European Command and U.S. Army Europe.

Syroyid, a Marshall Center alumnus, has been an active participant in each of the six senior leader seminars. She said defense reforms are difficult because of a lack of trust between the military and parliament. Marshall Center seminars help provide a venue to build trust and find solutions.

“I think that the impact of this seminar and the others is enormous. Reform takes time and effort. If you consider what we can do to improve the relations between the politicians and the General Staff, it is time and effort. You have to work. You should not give up. You have to find a compromise. We have to look to find new people. You have to look for the new model for new solutions. This is the only way to do this. There is no other way,” said Syroyid.

Marshall Center Associate Dean Rick Steinke has been one of the key players in each of the Marshall Center senior leader seminars. He said this seminar built on the accomplishments made in the five previous seminars and helped the overall efforts in Ukrainian defense reforms with a new group of participants.

"This seminar not only provided a communications ice breaker for some key members of the Ukrainian government defense sector and parliament but it also produced some much-needed focus and measures on how to sustain effective communications in the future. We also touched on some new topics such as drafting National Security Law and Ukrainian soldier quality of life issues," said Steinke.

The next Ukraine Senior Leader Seminar will be held later this year.