Estonian and Ukrainian police chiefs met in Kyiv to discuss cooperation and police development

In the first week of March, the leadership of the Police and Border Guard Board (PBGB) met with their Ukrainian counterparts in Kyiv to discuss cooperation and the functioning of internal security in wartime, and to launch a Ukrainian police development project in three regions.

According to Egert Belitšev, Director General of the PBGB, crises unite people, organisations, and countries. “The cooperation of the Police and Border Guard Board with its Ukrainian counterparts did not start with the war, and joint action and close communication is even more important in the light of the Russian attack. We are supporting Ukraine and providing real assistance in terms of resources and skills. At the same time, we are keen to learn from the experience of our Ukrainian partners on how to organise policing and how to ensure people’s safety in times of war,” said the Director General.

During the week-long visit, Estonian police chiefs met with their Ukrainian counterparts regarding several lines of work, including border guard, criminal police, and police education. They also met with their US counterparts and the Estonian ambassador in Kyiv. In addition, they visited the frontline and local police units.

An international cooperation project between the Estonian and Ukrainian police to modernise police management in the Kirovohrad, Chernihiv and Zhytomyr regions was also officially launched. Estonia will share its experience in developing the police forces in these regions to help improve the fight against crime and to increase people’s sense of security and trust in the police. The project will produce teaching materials in Ukrainian and the first group of Ukrainian police chiefs will arrive in Estonia in May for training.

“A modern police organisation that people can trust is smart, honest, and brave, and these values need to be reflected in the organisation and in its leadership. We are working to ensure that the joint project has a significant impact on the reforms already under way in Ukraine and that we can use our experience to help strengthen both the credibility of the police and internal security in these regions,” said Belitšev.

Ivan Vyhivskyi, Head of the National Police of Ukraine, stressed that the conditions of police work are very complex as quite a few tasks have been added: evacuation of citizens, demining of territories, prosecution of war crimes and national defence. “Your support and your project are of utmost importance for us, as it allows us to learn what can be put to immediate use,” said Ivan Vyhivskyi.

Annely Kolk, Estonia’s ambassador to Ukraine, who also took part in the launching of the project, pointed out that Ukraine’s partners and friends in Estonia have never been silent on the situation. “On the contrary, we have always supported Ukraine and provided all possible assistance. Estonia was one of the first countries to support and help Ukraine from the beginning of these horrific events. I hope we have all grown stronger in these two years,” said Kolk.

Together, the Kirovohrad, Chernihiv and Zhytomyr regions are territorially comparable to two Estonias. More than three million people lived there before the war.

Preparations for the cooperation project started in 2019 and were interrupted by the Russian Federation’s attack on Ukraine.

The implementation of the joint project between Estonia and Ukraine is supported by ESTDEV – Estonian Centre for International Development.

Jelizaveta Belous
Police and Border Guard Board