A significant story is developing in Ukraine largely under the radar of Western media and the national security community. On December 11, 2020, a civil appellate court upheld the conviction of retired Major General Viktor Nazarov who, as acting chief of operations of the “anti-terrorist” effort in the Donbas, was accused of negligence in connection with the shoot-down by Russian-led forces of a Ukrainian transport plane on June 17, 2014, with the loss of 9 flight crew and 40 paratroopers.

On December 23, the Supreme Court of Ukraine issued a stay in Nazarov’s incarceration, and President Zelenskyy ordered top officials “to study the combat experience of the tragedy.” These developments are positive, but even if Nazarov is ultimately exonerated, the structural issues that produced the civilian criminalization of combatant command decisions remain in place. Moreover, the General Prosecutor’s Office has initiated several similar cases in recent weeks charging higher commanders with responsibility for military losses.

Concerned by these developments, over 100 Ukrainian military commanders signed an open statement to the country’s leadership on December 19 warning of the national security implications of the civilian prosecution and incarceration of General Nazarov. The case has produced similar concern among friends of Ukraine in the West.

Senior US military officers and national security officials Generals (Ret.) Philip Breedlove and Wesley Clark, Lieutenant General (Ret.) Ben Hodges, Dr. Phillip Karber, and Ambassador Alexander Vershbow join to present a statement of concern regarding the national security implications of General Nazarov’s prosecution and answer questions. Melinda Haring, deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, moderates.

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The Eurasia Center’s mission is to promote policies that strengthen stability, democratic values, and prosperity in Eurasia, from Eastern Europe in the West to the Caucasus, Russia, and Central Asia in the East.