CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - The Ukrainian contingent of Multinational Battle Group East (MNBG E) Kosovo Force 13 (KFOR) held a Transfer of Authority ceremony, Aug. 14, at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo.
Guests and distinguished visitors from KFOR and other organizations gathered for the ceremony that marked the end of one and the beginning of the next Ukrainian rotation for KFOR, the NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.
The outgoing soldiers were commanded by Ukraine army Lt. Col. Viacheslav Andrusko, and were recognized for their outstanding effort in support of MNBG E as third responders behind the Kosovo Police (KP) and European Rule of Law mission in Kosovo (EULEX).
Ukraine recently took over this assignment as part of the KFOR deterrent presence mission in Kosovo. KFOR is tasked with maintaining a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all the people in Kosovo.
The outgoing soldiers witnessed many changes within the Battle Group as it became more agile and adaptable to the new mission focus.
They began their rotation with the closing of Camp Breza, their former headquarters, in the Strpce/Shtrpc municipality and a hand over of responsibility of patrolling that area to U.S. Soldiers.
Following the closing of Breza, the Ukraine contingent moved its equipment and personnel to Camp Bondsteel, near Ferizaj/Urosezec. The incoming Ukraine contingent, commanded by Ukraine army Maj. Oleksander Lutsenko, will build upon the effort put forth by the previous Ukraine rotations.
"On behalf of my personnel, I want to express my will to continue the successes of the previous Ukrainian peacekeepers," Lutsenko said.
Col. Francisco J. Neuman, Ponce, Puerto Rico, commander of MNBG E and a member of the Puerto Rico Army National Guard, was first to the lectern to praise the outgoing soldiers and welcome the new members of MNBG E.
"Ukrainian forces have some of the most demanding tasks in the Battle Group; Security Patrols and Quick Reaction Force missions," Col. Neuman said. "We had the pleasure of working with Major Oleksandr Lutsenko and his soldiers while we were at Hohenfels, Germany, training for our mission here in Kosovo, and I look forward to building on the relationship we began in Germany."
Ukrainian Maj. Gen. Sergiy Popko, commander of the 7th Detached Mechanized Brigade, gave his speech in Ukrainian, and in a sign of respect and in the spirit of cooperation, Lt. Col. Dovriusz Kosowski, Polish contingent commander, also gave his speech in Ukrainian. Andrusko used his time at the lectern to express his wishes to his soldiers as they assume the mission with KFOR.
"I would like to express to the new soldiers to carry on our traditions and to act in a way as to bring honor to our country," said Andrusko.
Among the distinguished guests in attendance were Lt. Col. Jose Boria-Cruz, Juncos, Puerto Rico, deputy commander of MNBG E, Greek army Col. Chatzithoefanour Georgirn, commander of Hellas Coy, MNBG E, and Turkish army Capt. Hakan Ozkybat, Turkish Coy commander.