Hanna Shelest, PhD
(Senior Researcher, National Institute for Strategic Studies, Odessa Branch, Ukraine)

Copyright: www.rieas.gr

New National Security Strategy of Ukraine was adopted in 2012 being a result of the change in the internal politics of Ukraine. De facto today Ukrainian national security is defined by several documents – National Security Strategy, Law on Basics of Domestic and Foreign Policy of Ukraine and Military Doctrine of Ukraine. Moreover, such official documents as Strategy of the Peacekeeping Activity of Ukraine can also be added to this list.

National Security Strategy of Ukraine is based on the Law of Ukraine on National Security adopted back in 2003. It is a second edition of the Strategy, first version of which adopted in 2007 were revised, after both Foreign Policy Concept was updated in 2010 and Military Doctrine presented in 2012.

Usually it is assumed that foreign and defense policy of any state, as well as national interests should not being easily swung depending on the party in power. Moreover if any thesis is officially stated it should be logically continued on the implementation stage, otherwise such a state will not be accepted as a predictable and reliable member of the international community, and the state will not be able efficiently guarantee its own security. Even if a state is living in peaceful relations with others, nevertheless, its omission first of all concerning own transformation, can lead to the threats and challenges appearance both of the internal and external character, especially when the character of the threats themselves has transformed.

Almost for two years Ukraine had been witnessing an imbalance in the main documents defining the national security sphere. With a change of the President in 2010 and his new foreign policy priorities, new Law on Basics of Domestic and Foreign Policy was adopted in July 2010 replacing the old Concept of the Foreign Policy dated back in 1993. There has disappeared a course toward Euroatlantic integration, and a non-bloc status of Ukraine was first stated. So, the old edition of the Military Doctrine, where “intensification of the Euroatlantic integration of Ukraine, aiming to join NATO” had been valid till 2012. 

Presenting a new Edition of the National Security Strategy, its authors said that “National Security Strategy clearly defines national interests, priorities of the foreign and internal policy and proposes an understandable mechanism of its realization”. (1) However this document does not answer many of the stated questions and de facto is not a totally new one, but a new edition of the previous Strategy dated 2007, based on the Law of Ukraine on the National Security adopted in 2003, which is more substantial and complex.

The main motto of the new Strategy is “Ukraine in the world that is changing” (2), however the document shows only one new “challenge” comparing to 2007 - world economic crisis - all others such as conflicts, nuclear proliferation, energy security, terrorism, illegal migration or transborder crime have been the same for the years.

Among others tendencies which can lead to a potential threat Strategy’s authors, describing external environment and current threats to the national interests and security, point out:

• increased competition between the main world power centers;
• use of the force in the international relations despite the international law norms;
• crisis of the current system of the international relations and blurring of the international legal system and security institutions;
• appearance of the self-proclaimed quasi-entities, and precedents of their recognition, that can lead to a regional separatism;
• increased competition for resources;
•  intensification of militarization;
• spread of terrorism, piracy, drug trafficking, illegal arms trade, transborder crime, etc.;
•  excessive human pressure on the environment.

At the same time special attention is paid to the deterioration of the security environment around Ukraine, including creation of the spheres of influence and zones of responsibility, escalation of the conflicts in the Black Sea-Caspian region, increase in regional militarization, absence of the common view towards regional integration, and incomplete process of borders delimitation and demarcation. Moreover, authors of the Strategy name direct external threats to the national security of Ukraine:

• Unsettled Transnistrian conflict;
• Unsettled issue of the state borders in the Black Sea and Azov Sea, absence of the border demarcations with Russia, Belarus and Moldova;
• Existed problems due to the Russian Black Sea Fleet deployment in Ukraine;
• Imperfection of the state policy in the sphere of migration, both to create conditions for immigrants, and secure interests of Ukrainians working abroad.

In internal security environment the following problems are mention among others:

• High level of corruption;
• Problems of the judiciary system, as a result lack of confidence in it;
• Dependence of the internal market on the external conditions, smuggling and monopoly;
• Low technological level of the economy;
• Inefficient use of the budget;
• Extra dependence on the energy resources import;
• Insufficient use of the energy transit potential of the state;
• Decrease in population; shortening in labor and small wages;
• Irrational use of natural resources;
• Technological overload for the environment and pollution;

So the strategic goals and main tasks of the security policy are: secure of the rights and interests of Ukrainians abroad; widening of foreign economic activity and cooperation; creation of the conditions for further European integration; creation of the new model of relations with the Russian Federation and China; development of the relations with the USA; raise of efficiency of the foreign policy in the Central European and the Black Sea regions, including in the framework of the regional organizations; intensification cooperation in Africa and Asia; and settlement of the border problems.

The new provision that was not present in the previous edition of the Strategy is a non-bloc status of the state, as one of the principles of the national security. This principle is not clearly explained in the Strategy, meant de facto not joining NATO or Tashkent Pact of the CIS, which are still seen as opponents. However such a status is not fixed in the international law and its distinction from “neutral status” is poorly explained in the public discourse. At the same time Ukraine remains stick to its obligations within the OSCE, which is seen as a main security actor in Europe, to Ukrainian peacekeeping activities, constructive partnership with NATO, participation in other regional security programs.

Separate part is dedicated to the internal security tasks including political, cultural, economic, energy and environmental spheres, among others fighting corruption, administrative and judicial reforms, food security and information/cyber security.

Despite the fact that most of the attention is paid to external political issues, and internal challenges of economic-social sphere, the main principles of national security improvement are described in the framework of the security sector reform, including army, criminal justice, border management, disaster and civil protection management.

One of the problems is that the Government doesn’t see the National Security Strategy as a complex document with a vision but rather as a document which has “allowed arranging a security sector work”.(3) In some way National security has been equated to the internal issues rather than external challenges. In the Presidential report after a year of the new Strategy implementation, he has pointed out that the main efforts were made in the security sector reform, changes in the border management, military reform, start of the police reform, environmental and social security. (4) However, it is noteworthy that ensuring of the European integration of Ukraine is set as a necessity for implementation of the national security’s urgent tasks, which frame the present some legal frame for the policy of Ukraine despite the allegation of the pro-Russian course of the current government.


1) Work on the New National Security Strategy is finished / Press service of the President of Ukraine (on Ukrainian) - 20 April 2012: Available at: http://www.president.gov.ua/news/23900.html
2) Decree of the President of Ukraine on New Edition of the National Security Strategy adopted 8 June 2012 (on Ukrainian): http://zakon1.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/389/2012/paran5#n5
3) Viktor Yanukovich: New National Security Strategy has allowed to organize a security sector work (on Ukrainian) -29 March 2013 / Available at: http://www.rnbo.gov.ua/news/1433.html
4) Viktor Yanukovich: New National Security Strategy has allowed to organize a security sector work (on Ukrainian) -29 March 2013 / Available at: http://www.rnbo.gov.ua/news/1433.html


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