Swedec supports establishment of Ukrainian demining centre

There is a longstanding and well-established bilateral partnership between Sweden and Ukraine. The Swedish government has commissioned the Swedish Armed Forces to continue implementing defence-related cooperation with Ukraine in 2020, within the framework of the country’s security sector reform.

The delegation from Ukraine together with representatives from Swedec
The delegation from Ukraine together with representatives from Swedec. Photo: Björn Sönnerling/Swedish Armed Forces
Sweden's reform cooperation with Ukraine was initiated in 1995.
Sweden's reform cooperation with Ukraine was initiated in 1995. Photo: Daniel Wiberg/Swedish Armed Forces

In 2019, the Ukrainian military attaché to Sweden, colonel Serhii Harbarenko, visited Swedec together with representatives from the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss extended bilateral cooperation between Swedec and Ukraine, in the field of demining.

The action plan developed during the meeting was later established by a government decision in December 2019. Swedec's assignment in 2020 was to offer demining training to the Ukrainian Armed Forces and support Ukraine's establishment of two national demining centres.

Demining training in Eksjö

During three weeks, Swedec completed demining training for personnel from the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The training aimed at increasing the ability to handle the complex, prevailing ammunition and mine situation along the eastern border of Ukraine. It also included risk awareness, localization, identification, marking and clearing of mines and ammunition.

Establishment of a national demining structure

Today, several Ukrainian agencies are involved in national mine action activities and Ukraine is now about to establish a new demining law. The law entails, among other things, the establishment of two national demining centres for coordination of the Ukrainian agencies.

During a one-week workshop, Swedec hosted representatives of Ukraine´s mine action programme. Swedec shared experiences related to its role as a national centre of excellence in Swedish society. Most of the time was spent discussing cooperation and coordination between authorities involved, using Sweden as a role model. It was an intense week including dialogues, sharing of experiences and cooperation. 

"It has been a good week and together we have built a stable platform for our continuing bilateral cooperation in the field of ammunition and mine clearance", says Sherii Matveichuk from the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

The Ukrainian delegation consisted of Ihor Herasymenko – parliamentarian, Serhii Zubarevskyi – colonel at the Ministry of Defence and Sherii Matveichuk – lieutenant colonel at the Ukrainian General Staff. All three with key roles in the implementation of a new demining law, the formation of a new demining structure and the establishment of two new national demining centres. In addition, colonel Serhii Harbarenko – Ukraine’s military attaché to Sweden, also participated.

The way ahead

The activities planned for 2021 can be divided into two areas: increasing the operational demining capacity of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and supporting and acting as mentors in the Ukrainian formation of a national demining structure and the establishment of two national demining centres.

Swedec is an internationally acknowledged actor with broad and extensive experience in the field of explosive ordnance disposal and demining. The support offered to Ukraine by the Swedish Armed Forces, through Swedec, is of great importance for the Ukraine's abiity to deal with the difficult mine situation.

"It’s a great honour for us that Ukraine turns to Sweden and Swedec for support, and we can see that our experience and knowledge in the field is useful for Ukraine", says lieutenant colonel Fredrik Johnsson, deputy commanding officer at Swedec and responsible for the centre’s support to Ukraine.