For the first time, the Ukrainian military joined the American training program for officers on the protection of cultural heritage. They also held a series of bilateral meetings with the partners

2023-09-18 12:05:00 | ID: 70740

Six Ukrainian officers successfully completed a training program organized by the United States Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command and the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative. Ukrainian military service members, together with their colleagues from the USA, UK, France, and Poland, completed an intensive course aimed at preserving cultural heritage in the conditions of armed conflicts.

The training program focused on the exchange of experience on the implementation of the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and applying its Regulations. The program participants also studied the doctrinal approaches, policies and best practices of the USA and other NATO member states regarding armed forces units aimed at protection of cultural assets.

Renowned American experts on rescuing cultural heritage shared their knowledge, in particular, on the use of modern technologies for the analysis of cultural assets devastation and reconstruction. It is important that special attention have been paid by the organizers to the context of the international armed conflict provoked by the aggression of the russian federation against Ukraine.

Colonel Scott DeJesse, who worked directly with this particular course cycle, says that not only Ukraine, but also other participants benefited from the participation of Ukrainians in the program. Many elements of the training were based on the examples of the russian-Ukrainian armed conflict. "The main thing is that, following the results of this training, Ukrainian officers are confident in the undeniable partnership of the USA and other countries, as they themselves have now become a link in the international network of specialists in the protection of cultural heritage," the expert said.

The practical exercises were based on the realities of the russian-Ukrainian armed conflict and were related to cultural assets destroyed as a result of hostilities. Ukrainian officers were trained to provide proposals to the military command on how to response (by evacuation, restoration, conducting information and psychological operations, etc.) to incidents of cultural assets destruction.

Among course lecturers, there were representatives of the Ukrainian NGOs documenting destroyed and damaged cultural assets in Ukraine.

The graduation ceremony was attended by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the United States, Her Excellency Oksana Markarova, and the Defense Attaché of the Embassy of Ukraine in the United States, Major General Borys Kremenetskyi.

"I am grateful to the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative and the United States Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command for inviting Ukrainian military to participate in this training together with officers of the Armed Forces of the United States, UK, France, and Poland. This training program is really important for Ukraine, as russia's full-scale war against Ukraine was aimed at destroying Ukrainian statehood, culture, and national identity," Ukrainian Ambassador to the USA Oksana Markarova emphasized.

The delegation of the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces of Ukraine also visited the Fort Liberty military base of the United States Army, where they held a number of bilateral meetings with the leadership of the military administration and other units of the US Armed Forces of various levels.

The Ukrainian delegates informed the partners about the relevant measures taken by the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces of Ukraine to protect cultural heritage sites and items during the russian-Ukrainian armed conflict. In particular, these measures are implemented through the prism of civil-military cooperation.

"putin claims that Ukrainians do not exist as a nation, so it is clear that his attempts to destroy Ukrainian culture are aimed at destroying Ukrainian identity. We are grateful to our partners, in particular to the USA, for understanding the importance of this problem and for the continuous support of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the fight against the aggressor", - emphasized the representative of the Central Department of Civil-Military Cooperation of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Lieutenant Colonel Oksana Banoshenko.

In addition, the experience of the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces of Ukraine in implementing, applying and spreading knowledge of international humanitarian law is also relevant to the issue of cultural assets protection.

"This visit, the participation in the training course, a number of bilateral meetings with the command of the military administrations of the US Army testified that an own Ukrainian model of cultural assets protection should be developed. Such a model should take into account the best international practices, the experience of using the Defense Forces, as well as the mechanisms and authorities of dedicated structures already existing in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, responsible for cultural assets protection", - concluded the Deputy Head of the International Law Division of the Department of Legal Support of the Ministry of Defenсe of Ukraine, Lieutenant Colonel of Justice Inna Zavorotko.

The partners emphasized the unconditional support of Ukraine in repelling the armed aggression of the russian federation and the further cooperation expansion in protection of cultural assets, as well as the implementation, application and dissemination of knowledge about international humanitarian law.