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CoM intentions for the Foreign Intelligence Service budget

November 8, 2016

Apparently, the 9th November will see numerous Cabinet of Ministers decisions and approvals – from US FATCA alignment, upgrading coordination on geographical information with Turkey, and agreements with Boznia and Herzegovina relating to cooperation regarding fighting crime.

Among this list of anticipated decisions is one relating to the budget of the Ukrainian Foreign Intelligence Service (the SZRU).  Seemingly it is necessary for the Cabinet of Ministers to decide upon not the budgetary line item and the sum allocated, but upon the actual implementation of that budget to improve defence capability and the security of the State.

Civilian control and oversight is necessity in a democratic society when it comes to those State entities that conduct secretive and sensitive work – no differently to civilian control over the military.

There are those however, who will question why it is the Cabinet of Ministers and not the National Security and Defence Council within the civilian controlled State apparatus that is getting involved in how the SZRU intends to spend its budget to improve defence capabilities and the security of the State.

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The SZRU is set up no differently to many of its European counterparts – It has dedicated departments for HUMINT, SIGINT, information and analysis, specialist tech, foreign countermeasures, internal security, logistics, and a training institute.

As such, would not the NSDC have a far better holistic view of State defence, security and which entity is spending how much and on what, where the gaps are, and where there exists expensive overlaps – thus being perhaps better to influence SZRU budgetary spending?  Particularly so as the appointed head of the SZRU (whomever it may be) is a member of the NSDC.

Well perhaps – but the SZRU is not tasked similarly to most of its European counterparts.  Officially it has a far narrower scope (despite what may actually go on).  Officially the SZRU is tasked “to match its plans with the political objectives and economic potential of the country, its actual place in the system of international relations, and with the relevant needs of the state top-official bodies in that intelligence.”

Clearly the NSDC does not set national policy when it comes to “political objectives or the economic potential of the country“.  Neither is the NSDC charged with defining Ukraine’s “actual place in the system of international relations“.

Thus a much wider spectrum of geographical and thematic issues engaged in by other foreign intelligence services are absent from the core responsibilities of the SZRU – at least officially (and there probably isn’t the budget for doing much more anyway).

It also follows that as the NSDC does not set the narrow spectrum of SZRU responsibilities, neither does the Verkhovna Rada Committee for National Security and Defence which also holds oversight powers.

It therefore perhaps clarifies why, to some degree, that it is the Cabinet of Ministers and not the NSDC that will be seen to make the decisions upon the implementation of the SZRU budget.  That said, it will still seem strange to many that the Cabinet of Ministers, having allocated the SZRU budget, has to spend time deciding upon its implementation particularly when there is so much else to be done in areas granted far bigger budgets.

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