Ukraine has formally broached the possibility of joining an EU battle group, a suggestion that would, if approved, make Ukraine only the third non-EU country – after Norway and Turkey – to be incorporated into the military system, European Voice reported.
The topic was raised at a meeting on 29 October between the commander-in-chief of Ukraine`s armed forces, Serhiy Kyrychenko, and the chairman of the EU Military Committee (EUMC), General Henri Bentégeat.
The current concept of the EU`s battle groups is relatively new, and the EU`s 15 battle groups reached full operational capacity only in January 2007. Battle groups rotate actively, so that two are ready for deployment at all times.
Ukraine has already held consultations with Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia, which are considering forming a battle group. There were also been consultations with the commanders of the armed forces of Greece regarding a Ukrainian contribution of the EU battle group Helbrok, in which military units from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania and Slovenia also participate. Helbrok was on deployment during the second half of 2007 and might be deployed again in the first half of 2009.
Kyrychenko also addressed other EU chiefs of defence, confirming that Ukraine is ready to take part in EU operations within the framework of European Security and Defence Policy. Its primary contribution would be to contribute air transport. It might also do so in Chad and the Central African Republic, where the EU`s military operation is significantly affected by a lack of transport aircraft. However, the 3,300-strong Eufor mission deployed in the two African countries will pull out in mid-2009.
The EUMC decided on 29 October that General Bentégeat should be succeeded in November 2009 by head of the Swedish armed forces, General Håkan Syrén. His appointment had been expected.