(1) Washington - Chief Investment Advisor to Prime Minister & Director, UkraineInvest, Dan Bilak  Business Leaders Roundtable hosted by the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC)

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Ukraine Business Council (USUBC), www.USUBC.org, and its members held a Business Leaders Roundtable discussion last Friday with Dan Bilak,  Chief Investment Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ukraine and Director, UkraineInvest.  Over 35 persons attended the Roundtable held in the offices of PwC in Washington, a member of USUBC.

Dan assume his new position last November.  Mr. Bilak was very positive in his presentation about Ukraine and all they have accomplished the last three years in spite of the major difficulties they have had face.  Dan believes the real start of the program to de-Sovietize Ukrainian institutions and build new ones did not start until after the Revolution of Dignity.

Few, if any countries have had to face such difficult issues such a war, significant decline in the value of the currency, loss of territory and trading embargoes. He said with the major focus being on difficulties by the international press Ukraine now has a "BRAND DEFICIT."  There is a huge need to "RE-BRAND UKRAINE"  UKRAINE IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS, many positive changes have been made and many more will be made in 2017-2017.  The re-branding must result in a brand that is trusted and reliable.

Director Bilak says that rapidly increasing international direct investment in Ukraine is extreme matter of  NATIONAL SECURITY.  Ukraine will never have a high level of national security without a very strong national economy and massive business investments. 

Pictures of the event: http://www.usubc.org/site/gallery/USUBC-BUSINESS-LEADERS-LUNCHEON--with--DANIEL-BILAK---DIRECTOR--UKRAINEINVEST

(2) Washington - First Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy & Food of Ukraine, Maksym Martynyuk Business Leaders Roundtable hosted by U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC)

WASHINGTON - Maksym Martynyuk, First Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine, was in Washington last week for a series of meetings.   Martynyuk and a delegation from Ukraine representing the State Service of Ukriane for Geodesy, Cartography & Cadaster attended a large conference at the World Bank.

At the Business Leaders Roundtable hosted by the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC), www.USUBC.org, the offices of USUBC member Cargill, Deputy Minister Martynyuk spoke about the program being considered by the Ministry reagarding moving land reform foward in Ukraine.  This is a very complicated process full of political ramifications.  But the program needs to move forward with a plan even if the movement is rather slow.  The first small plots of land for sale would probably be lands owned the government of Ukraine.

Attending with the Deputy Minister were Denys Nizalov, Director of Project, "Capacity Development for Evidence-Based Land & Agricultural Policy Making Project in Ukraine;  and Denis Bashlyk, Division of International Relations, The State Service of Ukraine for Geodesy, Cartography & Cadaster.  USUBC thanks Denys Nizalov for helping make the arrangements for the meeting.


(3) Washington - FDMFA Prustayko and Amb Chaly met with bipartisan group of members of U.S. Congress

WASHINGTON -- First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Vadym Prystaiko, Kyiv, and Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States Valeriy Chaly held a meeting at the Embassy of Ukraine in the USA with a bipartisan group of Members of the U.S. Congress, on March 22, 2017

First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Vadym Prystaiko and Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States Valeriy Chaly held a meeting at the Embassy of Ukraine with a bipartisan group of five members of the U.S. Congress, Representatives Chris Stewart, Jim Bridenstine, Jeff Fortenberry, Keith Rothfus, and Peter Welch.

The meeting was focused on the priorities of the current Ukraine-U.S. agenda with particular attention on key tasks of cooperation with the United States Congress. The Members were briefed on the implementation of reforms in Ukraine, as well as the current situation in the territories of Donbas and Crimea temporarily occupied by Russia.

The Ukrainian side thanked the congressmen for supporting the legislation aimed at providing assistance to Ukraine in counteracting the Russian aggression that was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in the previous years, as well as stressed the need for continued practical steps of the international community led by the United States to toughen the pressure on Russia, both political and in the form of economic and financial sanctions.

Strong emphasis was placed on the importance to further enhance the U.S security assistance to Ukraine, including by provision of lethal weapons of a defensive nature, as well as the continued support for reforms in Ukraine. It was mentioned in this context that Ukraine remained hopeful that the volumes and areas of assistance to Ukraine in the U.S. budget would continue to increase in the coming years.

The U.S. Congressmen expressed their willingness to continue to keep the support for Ukraine among their priorities.ithout hunmdreds of new international investment come into the country which will build a strong economic and business system in Ukkraine.

LINK:  http://usa.mfa.gov.ua/en/press-center/news/55843-u-posolystvi-ukrajini-v-ssha-vidbulasya-zustrich-pershogo-zastupnika-ministra-zakordonnih-sprav-vadima-pristajka-ta-posla-ukrajini-v-ssha-valerija-chalogo-z-chlenami-palati-predstavnikiv-kongresu-ssha

(4) Washington - U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Chairs Ministers Meeting of Global Coalition to Counter ISIS Delegation from Ukraine participated in the Ministers Meeting, March 22, 2017

Washington - A delegation from Ukraine led by First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Vadym Prystaiko participated at the Ministers Meeting of Global Coalition to Counter ISIS chaired by U.S.Secretary of State Rex Tillerson 
According to the Joint Statement the participants reiterated commitment to an integrated, multidimensional, and comprehensive approach to defeat ISIS and its global networks fully recognizing this will require sustained, focused efforts https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/03/269045.htm.

Vadym Prystaiko also met with acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs John A. Heffern and discussed a broad range of issues of bilateral cooperation, as well as the efforts to overcome the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

(5) U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing – U.S. Policy and Strategy in Europe:

Russia’s meddling in elections in Europe and the United States, its aggressive seizure of Crimea, military involvement in Syria and actively supporting separatists in Georgia and Ukraine put it in a class by itself as a U.S. threat, three experts on Moscow-Washington relations told the Committee. 

Because of these actions, “our current vector with U.S.-Russia relations is not good,” retired NATO Supreme Allied Commander Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove said. The former top American officer in Europe added, “We cannot simply dismiss Russia as a declining, regional power.” Moscow’s goal is to weaken and divide NATO, the European Union and the trans-Atlantic partnership.


President Putin wants Russia unrestrained by Western standards,” William Burns, president of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace and a former ambassador, testified.  The “litmus test” for improved relations between the United States and Russia is Ukraine. “Any change for the better depends on Russian behavior,” Alexander Vershbow, a fellow at the Atlantic Council and a former deputy secretary general of NATO, said. “Anything less would reward Russian aggression.”

COMMENTARY: Despite the Kremlin’s narrative findings its way in to media reports and policy discussions the drumbeat of reality seems to be increasing in Washington.  Putin’s thuggery and intentions are not going unnoticed.  It is time for policy – and action -- to reflect reality.

Link: USNI News

(6) Is Trump Throwing Ukraine to the Kremlin Sharks – By Anders Aslund, The Hill:

Anders Aslund argues the Kremlin is utilizing the absence of foreign policy leadership in Washington to advance quickly on Ukraine’s eastern front. He says if Washington does not wake up fast, Russia may have moved the facts on the ground too far. Ukraine is all too likely to be the first big Western cost of the Trump administration.

COMMENTARY: To a significant degree Aslund personalizes his case against American foreign policy, or lack of American foreign policy, as one against Trump.  He does this by linking some dated stories about Russian reaction to November’s election and the “peace plan” shenanigans of several odious Ukrainian figures, to the background of Trump’s worrying campaign statements and the on-going stories about Trump campaign connections to Moscow.


However, no matter how much smoke is referenced his analysis could easily be seen as more partisan than objective.  Trump has been in office two months and at this point Putin’s actions are merely the continuation of his policies and moves during the Obama Administration.


The fact is that the ineffectiveness of U.S. foreign policy toward Russia’s war against Ukraine is not new and is on-going, just as has been Putin’s efforts to manipulate American leaders. But, as has been stated in earlier Washington Watches and above in this issue, exactly what Trump intends to do about Putin’s war on Ukraine is not yet clear.  I


f this Administration continues with an absence of foreign policy leadership Putin will continue to take every advantage and the consequences likely will be on Trump’s “watch.”  But, the Russian euphoria over Trump’s election has dramatically subsided and the Trump Administration appointments and statements cannot be comforting to the Kremlin.

In this complicated situation it would also help if Ukrainian “leadership” lived in reality and spoke truth.  It should end its refusal to say there is outright war being waged by Russia on Ukrainian territory creating, among other things, IDPs who Ukraine also does not fully acknowledge.  It is not just American foreign policy that must wake up. Earth to Ukraine, earth to Ukraine – hello!

Time will tell but Aslund is correct in that time is of the essence.

Link: http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/foreign-policy/323032-is-trump-throwing-ukraine-to-the-kremlin-sharks

(7) Ukraine Ex-Finance Minister to Oversee Puerto Rico Crisis – The New York Times:

A federal control board overseeing Puerto Rico's finances amid a dire economic crisis announced Thursday that it appointed Ukraine's former finance minister, Natalie Jaresko, as its executive director.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2017/03/23/world/americas/ap-cb-puerto-rico-economic-crisis.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

(8) Democrats Change Tune on Lethal Aid to Ukraine to Help Case Against Trump – Washington Free Beacon:

Prominent Democrats now appear to support providing Ukraine lethal military aid, despite the fact that the Obama administration refused to give such weapons for years. What's changed? The newfound support for lethal aid on the left helps Democrats make their case that President Donald Trump has been influenced by the Russians. This was made clear by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, who kicked off Monday's hearing on Russia's attempt to interfere in the 2016 election by charging President Donald Trump's campaign with changing the Republican party's platform on behalf of Russia.

Commentary: It is not clear where this series of thoughts came from but The Twilight Zone comes to mind. By and large Congressional Democrats and the Obama Administration never agreed on the issue of lethal defensive weapons for Ukraine.  On multiple occasions bipartisan congressional majorities included authorization for the Administration to provide Ukraine such weapons.  The Democrats may be trying to assault Trump on possible ties to Russia but even if they are, that would not appear to have anything to do with their support of Ukraine.

Link:  Washington Free Beacon

(9) Trump Picks Sawkish Critic of Russia as NATO Ambassador, Veering From One Extreme to the Other – The Intercept:

President Trump has reportedly tapped as his ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) a hawkish critic of Russia who wants the U.S. to arm Ukraine. It’s the latest sign that the administration is reacting to criticism that it is too soft on Russia by pivoting to the other extreme.

Richard Grennell is a former Bush-era U.S. spokesperson at the United Nations who also served as a foreign policy spokesperson for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. He frequently appears on Fox News and other conservative outlets saying President Obama appeased Russia.

Commentary:  Not unprecedented in reporting on the Trump Administration the headline here is not supported by the facts, or in this case, the article itself.  After describing Grennell’s background and views the article goes on to list other harsh critics of Putin and Russia who are already in the Trump Administration - - “veering from one extreme to the other” – really?  As for Gennell he has a very consistent record  regarding Ukraine.  Of Obama’s belief  that the U.S. could “support Ukraine but not antagonize Russia” he commented the view represented “a naïve and dangerous world view.”

Link: https://theintercept.com/2017/03/08/trump-picks-hawkish-critic-of-russia-as-nato-ambassador-veering-from-one-extreme-to-the-other/


(10) Only Trump Can Go to Ukraine - Reagan demonstrated how a show of strength can reframe the terms of engagement – The Wall Street Journal:

Anders Fogh Rasmussen,founder of Rasmussen Global, a consultancy,  served as prime minister of Denmark, 2001-09, and secretary general of NATO, 2009-14. Here he argues President Trump is eager to promote his domestic agenda, but lingering questions about his campaign’s Russia connections are getting in the way. To put an end to the speculation and move past this debacle, his administration must articulate a clearer policy on Russia. The easiest way is by devoting greater effort to solving the Moscow-fueled war in Ukraine.

U.S.-Russia relations may need to get worse before they can get better. Shifting to a harder line is the only way for Washington to gain leverage on Moscow, change the dynamics in Ukraine, and gain congressional support for the Trump foreign policy. Mr. Trump has an example to follow. Even as the Cold War raged, President Ronald Reagan beefed up the U.S. military presence in Europe. Reagan spoke from a position of strength when he urged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev: “Tear down this wall.” Today the East-West division is symbolized not by a wall, but by the dangerous status quo taking hold in Ukraine. The Minsk agreements, negotiated in 2014-15, were designed to deliver a cease-fire and alleviate the war in the country’s eastern Donbas region. They have failed to bring about either goal.

Commentary: Trump should take Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s advice.  He would benefit, the United States would benefit, Ukraine and the world would benefit!  And Anders Aslund would have his clearer foreign policy.

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/only-trump-can-go-to-ukraine-1490222184?emailToken=JRryd/ByYXWVh908acw70lk5K7USFuqRA1jeKjXFPQ3QsznIovioxqM4woLr8Dv1Hxwjt4w=


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