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Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of UK in Ukraine

12th May 2011

UK-Ukraine military co-operation

A couple of people have commented on my recent Oxford speech that they were surprised to see how much military co-operation went on between Ukraine and the UK.  Having listed various other areas of joint work (EU, energy, macro-financial assistance) I said:

A final key area of cooperation is military.  There’s a lot the UK can continue to do to work closely with Ukraine to help its armed forces to reform and to make them more capable of working with NATO forces. That includes:

  • Developing Ukrainian military capacity and helping Ukraine to get into a position where it can support peacekeeping operations in third countries. Includes in-country teams helping Ukraine move towards NATO accreditation – eg a 4-week training course for naval infantry 
  • Training and development of future defence civilian and military leaders 
  • UK assistance for development of non-commissioned officers 
  • A peacekeeping English project which has taught over 5,000 officers to speak English 
  • Providing training through the British Military Advisory and Training Team based in Czech Republic 
  • A special Defence Adviser who works in the Ministry of Defence in Kyiv.

It’s all good, crunchy stuff.

The key thing about this practical co-operation is that it’s going on all the time.  For example, this month will see a visit to Ukraine by a 17-strong group of staff and students from the UK’s Royal College of Defence Studies, while a 20-strong group from the Ukrainian National Defence University will visit the UK.  In June, UK personnel will take part in Exercise Sea Breeze 2011, a US/Ukrainian sea and land operation focusing on the interoperability of maritime, air and amphibious task forces of Black Sea nations and their role in maritime security and peace support operations.  Other UK experts will run a logistics related workshop in Kyiv as part of a wider US-led Logistics exercise.  And in July and August, UK forces will take part in the US/Ukrainian land exercise Rapid Trident.  Experienced British paratroopers will work with Ukrainian and other forces on parachute drops, improving interoperability and promoting professional exchanges between Partnership for Peace nations.

I hope this work will continue in the months and years ahead.  As I said in Oxford, these kind of joint activities are good for Ukraine and good for relations between Ukrainian and UK and other military forces.  The better those relationships, the better for peace, security and stability in the region.

About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.