Support for Ukraine

Rights in Times of War - Legal Advisor with EUMAM UAEuropean Union Military Assistance Mission Ukraine

Rights in Times of War - Legal Advisor with EUMAM UAEuropean Union Military Assistance Mission Ukraine

Date:
Place:
Strausberg
Reading time:
5 MIN

Rights and laws are an integral part of our everyday life, but it is sometimes hard to imagine that rules do apply even in times of war. As experts in legal matters, Legal Advisors make a decisive contribution to ensuring compliance with these rules. One of them is Xenia M. who is employed as a Legal Advisor with EUMAM UAEuropean Union Military Assistance Mission Ukraine. In an interview, she gives insights into her activities and the legal training of Ukrainian soldiers.

Legal Advisor ST-C

Xenia M., the Legal Advisor of the Special Training Command in Strausberg

Bundeswehr / Sebastian Moldt

Ms M., you are currently employed as a Legal Advisor with the Special Training Command, what exactly are your tasks there?

As a Legal Advisor, I am directly subordinate to the Commander of the Special Training Command (ST-C), Lieutenant General Marlow, as are other special advisors, and I advise him on all legal matters. The focus is on providing legal advice on operations and not on working as a Disciplinary Attorney for the Armed Forces. In addition to verifying the legitimacy of all orders, my daily work also includes supporting the Chief of Staff and the individual divisions in all conceivable issues. Of course, this includes disciplinary law. What distinguishes EUMAM UAEuropean Union Military Assistance Mission Ukraine in particular from previous missions in Mali and Lithuania is the training of Ukrainian soldiers in international humanitarian law, which I coordinate.

Why are Ukrainian soldiers trained in international humanitarian law within the scope of EUMAM UAEuropean Union Military Assistance Mission Ukraine and how is the training conducted?

It is a direct EU task to train all Ukrainian soldiers also in the field of international humanitarian law within the scope of EUMAM UAEuropean Union Military Assistance Mission Ukraine, and it is, thus, a mandatory focus of the mission. In the ST-C, we decided to have this important training phase conducted only by fully trained legal experts, that is personnel of the military legal system of the Bundeswehr. This is mainly due to the fact that only such personnel can answer the real-life questions of Ukrainian soldiers in a legally correct and adequate way. The training itself is similar to the legal training provided in the Bundeswehr. In the lectures, which generally last four hours, we first discuss the most important rules and then deepen our knowledge with case studies.

Why is this training so important not only for the soldiers themselves but also for the Ukrainian military in general? 

The EU realized early on that the EUMAM UAEuropean Union Military Assistance Mission Ukraine training mission already indirectly intervened in the war between Russia and Ukraine. In order to avoid further escalation, it is therefore of extreme importance that the trained Ukrainian soldiers and the Ukrainian military in general represent and defend the code of values of the EU. It is understandable that these values are not always immediately comprehensible to the individual from a subjective point of view. Therefore, it is all the more important that, in legal training, we combine military tactics with legal foundations in order to highlight which military advantages may result from arresting prisoners of war, for example.

What challenges did you have to face with regard to this legal training?

By the end of 2023, some 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers are to be trained at major training areas throughout Germany. Especially at the beginning of the mission, it was therefore not easy to employ the limited number of personnel of the military legal system of the Bundeswehr that was available in such a way that training in international humanitarian law could be ensured. Since then, we have developed a well-functioning system. Another challenge was to make Ukraine aware of the need to integrate legal training into the already tight training schedule. In the meantime, Ukraine has understood, however, that not only for itself, but also for the EU, much is at stake and that support will only be continued if Ukraine complies with EU legal standards.

In addition to the general legal training of all Ukrainian soldiers, is further in-depth training planned? 

The training offered within the scope of EUMAM UAEuropean Union Military Assistance Mission Ukraine is always tailored to the needs of the Ukrainian military. In August of this year, the Ukrainian military also asked for more in-depth training for Ukrainian Legal Advisors in the field of international humanitarian law. The first training of this kind will start in December 2023. It will allow us to enter into dialogue with Ukrainian legal experts and exchange experiences. The Legal Advisors from Ukraine are confronted with real-life national defence cases every day and are, thus, able to provide us with valuable information and insights from which we can learn. Then again, as instructors, we are able to objectively assess scenarios and provide legal background knowledge for any training that has taken place or will take place during the mission. For this purpose, each training phase is conducted by legal experts of the Bundeswehr in cooperation with a soldier experienced in the relevant field of knowledge.

Finally, to come back to your tasks in your function as Legal Advisor, what specific questions have been forwarded to you so far within the scope of this mission? 

I have been involved in this mission almost from the very beginning, and, at the beginning, I was already concerned with the question whether EUMAM UAEuropean Union Military Assistance Mission Ukraine meets all legal requirements in order to become an acknowledged mission. As things developed, I then assessed the most diverse verification tasks and provided advice on questions that arise, for example, with the presence of soldiers of the UKR armed forces in Germany. There were a lot of questions that we were able to effectively assess with all the agencies concerned. 
A Legal Advisor ultimately has a wide range of subject matters to deal with, which makes this function so exciting and versatile. I look forward to continuing to support this mission as best as possible. 
 

by Lea Bacherle

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