Taras Pastukh: “The law on national security can paralyze the Armed Forces of Ukraine”

Last week, the Verkhovna Rada adopted a law on national security and defence. The document is about the introduction of civil and parliamentary control over intelligence activities and budget expenditures. However, these are only declarations so far.

At the same time, in the law, there are some inconsistencies with the Constitution, conflicts with other laws, and imbalance of the Armed Forces. MP Taras Pastukh from the Samopomich parliamentary faction underscores the main shortcomings of the document.

First of all, the Armed Forces of Ukraine

Following the adoption of this law, the Ukrainian military will end up having three laws, by which it should be guided, but which all conflict with one another.

Firstly, the law on the Armed Forces provides for a specific power vertical in the army. When the Verkhovna Rada adopted the so-called law on reintegration, it provided for a completely different model of management of the Armed Forces, which is not in line with the one spelled out in the basic law. Now we have the third law – on national security – which provides for yet another model of the Armed Forces management. That is, today the representatives of the Ministry of Defence and the General Staff do not know what orders and directives to issue tomorrow, on the basis of which of the laws.

We also know that the Staff of Joint Forces has been created. The law on national security says that this staff may have several commanders. The military do not see how several commanders can manage one staff in several directions.

This can get in the way of issuing any orders, commands in the Armed Forces system, paralyze the Armed Forces altogether.

Civil Defence Minister

The law does contain a provision on a civil Defence Minister, but all amendments requiring this person not to be a former military officer were eliminated. That is, theoretically speaking, today’s army general can leave the Armed Forces on December 31, 2018, and on January 1, 2019 can be appointed to the post of the Minister of Defence.

Secondly, the law gives no answer as to what to do with today’s minister – should he be dismissed or the civil minister should be appointed already in the new government, which will be formed by the parliament of the next convocation.

The economic powers of the law enforcement agencies

The Security Service does not miss a single opportunity to continue “horrifying” the business. After all, even though the so-called economic powers were taken away by the law on national security, they are still there in the law on the Security Service and in the criminal procedure code. It is obvious that the SBU will be guided by its own law (on security service) in which all these provisions remain.

NATO criteria

Even those 6 to 7 amendments, on which the international partners insisted and which were included in the text of the law, are of an absolutely declarative nature, unfortunately. For example, the provision to instruct the Cabinet to develop within 6 months a bill on an ad hoc committee that will control the intelligence services. Does it solve anything? Unfortunately, no. Does it provide for any liability for not doing so? Unfortunately, no.

The other instruction is for the Security Service to develop a law on the Security Service of Ukraine, that is, to reform itself. Will the Security Service do it? Obviously, no.

The law also says that financial reporting in the security and defence sector should be open and transparent. How will it be carried out, in what way? Will that be the budget committee or the committee on national security that will be engaged? What information should be provided? Nothing is indicated.

The title of this law is very proper, but the content does not correspond to the NATO directions and standards at all. These are purely declarative norms, which have nothing to do with practical implementation. Therefore, unfortunately, the adoption of this law does not bring Ukraine any closer to achieving our aim – the membership in NATO. To my great regret.

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