The first in person country visit conducted after the long period of quarantine caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic was recently conducted by Mr. Talgat Toleubayev, the Regional Coordinator of the Secretariat for South East and Eastern Europe (SEEE) region and Mr Jumber Mamasakhlisi, On-Site Technical Assistance Key Expert of the European Union’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Centres of Excellence (CoE) Initiative. Supporting partner countries during this difficult time is one of the main priorities of the SEEE.
Primary purpose of the visit was to meet with the CBRN Working Group of Ukraine, provide a detailed overview of the CBRN CoE Initiative, discuss about ongoing projects, plan a regional field exercise and other networking meetings, and conduct bilateral consultations with relevant international and national counterparts and stakeholders located in Kyiv. The overall outcome of the visit was extremely useful given the fact that all planned meetings were very fruitful and held within the scheduled timeframe thanks to the high level of engagement of the partner country's representatives
The CBRN country team meeting was organized by the National Focal Point of Ukraine, Mr. Maksym Samusevych, and was attended by 24 participants from different Ukrainian governmental and non-governmental entities such as: the State Border Guard Service; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the State Security Service; the Ministry of Internal Affairs; the Ministry of Defense; the Ministry of Emergency Situations; the State Service of Food Security and Consumer Protection; the Ministry of Education and Science; the Ministry of Public Health; the National Guard; the State Inspection of Nuclear Regulation Authority; the National Academy of Science; the State Agency on Exclusive Zones; and the non-governmental organization Women in Nuclear.
Support in the development of the National Strategy and the National Action Plan was offered with respect to all CBRN issues or with a focus on specific related areas that the partner country may need to prioritize. Members of the CBRN Working Group agreed to revisit their Concept of the CBRN National Strategy before submitting it for official approval to the Cabinet of Ministers.
One of the flagship practices within the SEEE region is to complement the theoretical knowledge obtained during training sessions and equipment delivery with practical field exercises addressing different CBRN safety and security aspects at regional level. The first practical detection field exercise called Lionshield was conducted in 2018 in Georgia with the objective to test capabilities of 10 partner countries to fight illicit trafficking of radiological and nuclear materials. A similar field exercise focused on a scenario related to biosafety and biosecurity will be conducted in Ukraine during the 3rd quarter of 2022. The exercise will be hosted and coordinated by the State Border Guard Service in close cooperation with other national and international entities.
This year, besides conducting practical activities, the SEEE region started the implementation of the EU CBRN CoE project 88, entitled Strengthening of CBRN Medical Emergency Preparedness and Response Capabilities in the SEEE region. The project envisages training activities and the provision of equipment components, as well as the creation of two regional Medical Emergency Training Hubs responding to the needs of the Balkan and East European regions. Ukraine is considered as one of the candidate countries capable to host the regional training hub for the Eastern Europe region.
The visit to Ukraine concluded with bilateral meetings with representatives of the European Union’s Delegation in Ukraine and of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Complementarity of parallel efforts, visibility of activities, political support and advocacy requirements were discussed with these organizations.