Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Havrylov and Major-General Holmes in Conversation

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Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Havrylov and Major-General Holmes in Conversation

18th July 2022 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

President Zelensky has said that Britain is Ukraine’s “most sincere friend”. With the Russian war of aggression continuing beyond the prognoses made in the first few months of the conflict, it is now time to prove this friendship through further support? Forthcoming changes at the helm of the British government and the threat of colder winter weather later in the year are creating some uncertainty about the nature of our long-term commitment to Ukraine, which must be explored. We also need to hear what Ukraine needs to stop Russian aggression and restore its territorial integrity, and how Britain can assist in this process.

To unpick these subjects, The Henry Jackson Society welcomes the Deputy Minister of Defence of Ukraine, Major General Volodymyr Havrylov and the former Director of UK Special Forces, Major-General John Holmes.

The conversation will centre around the issues of procurement for the British and Ukrainian armies, the provision of continued support for Ukraine amidst political turmoil and a cost of living crisis, and the potential for involvement of British nationals in the conflict.



Major General Volodymyr Havrylov is the Deputy Defence Minister of Ukraine. Prior to his appointment, in 2022, he was Defence Attaché of Ukraine in the United States, the United Kingdom and Romania. Prior to being appointed Defence Attaché in the United States in September 2015 he was the Commandant of the Military Diplomatic Academy in Kyiv. Maj. Gen. Havrylov has also participated in the peacekeeping operation in Balkans in 1998 and the Anti-Terrorist Operation against Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine in 2015. Volodymyr Havrylov was awarded the Order of California (2018) and the Legion of Merit (2019) in the US.



Major General (Rtd) John Holmes is a retired British Army Officer who spent the majority of his service with the SAS and who held all the principal commissioned appointments from Troop Commander to Director Special Forces. This included two years as the Special Forces Liaison Officer at the British Embassy in Washington DC. During his career in the Army John earned awards for gallantry and leadership in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Sierre Leone.

On retirement, John worked with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq to raise a 15,000 strong Oil Protection Force. He also completed a study for the Metropolitan Police into how the civilian security sector could assist counter-terrorist operations. He presently sits on the Board of a number of UK companies.




Dr Stepan Stepanenko received his BA (Hons) and MA by research from the University of York and went on to complete a PhD at Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes of Paris Sciences et Lettres with a focus on Ukraine. In his academic career Stepan presented at a multitude of academic conferences and authored publications in peer reviewed journals, individually and in collaboration. He is also currently an Associate Member of the CNRS UMR 8167.

In British politics, Stepan has worked with the Conservative Party, running for election in the London Borough of Barnet in 2014 and co-founding the Conservative Friends of Ukraine in 2021. He continues to work on cross party humanitarian projects with a focus on Ukraine.






The Henry Jackson Society was pleased to hold a discussion on the ‘friendship’ between the United Kingdom and Ukraine and the British and American assistance to their ally. Dr Stepanenko began the conversation by introducing the speakers. Major General Volodymyr Havrylov discussed the characteristics of the training delivered to Ukrainian troops abroad. He highlighted that this training and the equipment received could still be improved. Then, Major General (Rtd) John Holmes argued that the war in Ukraine must be a wake-up call for the British army which lowered its guard after the Cold War. Major General Volodymyr Havrylov then answered questions on the role of Western media in the war, the link between the war and the survival of Russia, its impacts on the CIS and the inevitable success of Ukraine.




Millbank Tower, 21-24 Millbank, London, England, SW1P 4QP
21-24 Millbank
Westminster, SW1P 4QP United Kingdom
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Major-General Volodymyr Havrylov, Maj Gen (Rtd) John Holmes DSO OBE MC


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