Experts from NATO and Ukraine took stock of progress made on several projects and agreed on new areas of cooperation, such as the reintegration of female military personnel into civilian life. This was the subject of discussion at the 16th edition of the NATO-Ukraine Joint Working Group on Scientific and Environmental Cooperation, held at NATO Headquarters on 28 March 2019.
Since the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 and the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, over 12,000 scientists and academic experts have been displaced from their residence. In the face of these challenges, NATO’s Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme significantly increased its support to Ukraine by providing equipment and stipends to young scientists.
Prof. Maksim Strikha, Ukrainian Deputy Minister for Education and Science explained, “by engaging Ukrainian scientists in high-level research and capacity-building activities, the SPS Programme has actively supported research and academic institutions in Ukraine, strengthening the Ukrainian scientific landscape”.
Addressing current security challenges
At present, leading areas of cooperation focus on counter-terrorism, defence against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) agents, the development of advanced technologies, and the detection and clearance of unexploded ordnance and mines.
Over 33 activities with Ukraine are ongoing, which makes the country the biggest beneficiary of NATO’s SPS Programme. “One of the current flagship projects is called ‘Dexter,” said Dr Deniz Yüksel-Beten, Senior SPS and Partnerships Cooperation Advisor at NATO. “It aims to develop a system to detect explosives and firearms in public spaces, remotely and in real time, without disrupting the flow of passengers,” she added. Through another project, Ukrainian and Italian scientists are developing a new type of crystal sensors to detect CBRN agents, which can be used to support counter-terrorism measures.
Furthermore, in the framework of the NATO-Ukraine Platform on Countering Hybrid Warfare, the SPS Programme assists a joint initiative from Ukraine and Lithuania to develop an early warning system to counter hybrid threats. An event will take place in Vilnius in April 2019 to make recommendations and provide a way ahead.
Several projects delivered
Under the framework of the Comprehensive Assistance Package (CAP) for Ukraine three key multinational flagship projects have already been delivered to Ukraine, namely a multinational telemedicine system, support to humanitarian demining in Ukraine, and the development of a 3D landmine detection radar. “There is currently a 500-kilometre frontline in Ukraine with a high concentration of mines,” concluded Prof. Strikha. “Civilians are injured or killed on a regular basis by these remnants of war. This project responds to an immediate need to increase the safety of our citizens”.