(1)Deputy Head of Ukraine’s Presidential Administration visits Washington:

WASHINGTON - COMMENTARY: Dmytro Shymkiv, Deputy Head of the Ukrainian Presidential Administration, was in Washington last week in addition to the others reported on in the previous Washington Watch. Shymkiv had numerous meetings and sessions including a working luncheon with members and guests of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC), www.USUBC.org in a well-attended session.  He presented an excellent report on certain important reform efforts being made in his areas of responsibility. Just as importantly Shymkiv discussed needed reforms that have not yet been accomplished and what efforts are underway to try to address these issues. 

Mr. Shymkiv was both candid and willing to answer questions directly.  As in the case of Finance Minister Oleksandr Danyliuk earlier in the week Shymkiv presented an upbeat picture of Ukraine’s reform accomplishments and a realistic discussions of the continuing reality (the critical need for more and more reforms) which established a refreshing level of credibility with their audiences.

Theirs (Shymkiv and Minister Danyliuk) represent the types of Washington visits from Ukraine – candid, realistic, professional -- that really benefit Ukraine with U.S. government officials, Ukraine supporters and inquiring minds in Washington. 

Companies/organizations attending the meeting included:  American Councils for International Education, Atlantic Council, Cargill, Cub Energy, Center for International Private Enterprise, Center SAIS John Hopkins University, CRDF Global, Dentons, Embassy of Ukraine in the USA, Hartnett Gladley Hetterman, Innovizo LLC, Kennan Institute, MasterCard, NCSEJ, SigmaBleyzer,The American-Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce, The Institute for the Study of War, The Washington Group, The World Bank, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of State, U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, USUBC.

(2) U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch in Washington: USUBC honors Ambassador Dan Fried, top U.S. diplomat for 40 years

WASHINGTON - The U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC), www.USUBC.org, hosted U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch to a very well attended formal business luncheon on Friday, March 10, in Washington. 

Before the Ambassador spoke Morgan Williams acknowledged U.S. Ambassador Dan Fried who had recently retired from the Department of States after 40 years of public service as a distinguished public servant.  After being asked, Fried offered some insightful thoughts about United States foreign policy and the overall situation in Ukraine.  One point he made was the difference between American and Russian foreign policy objectives. 

He said that the American foreign policy objective is to have a positive outcome for both the United States and the foreign country with which it deals, help that country be strong and free.  On the other hand the Russian foreign policy objective is to have its neighbors weak and dependent.  An interview with Ambassador Fried and his final farwell speech are found in the next article, number 3.

For her part Ambassador Yovanovitch presented a wide-ranging discussion on the situation in Ukraine by beginning with a comparison of the situation and the challenges Ukraine faced when she earlier served in Kyiv with U.S. Ambassador Carlos Pascual and later Ambassador John Herbst.  The comparisons she drew indeed underscored the fact that Ukraine has made significant progress on important reforms. 

At the same time Ambassador Yovanovitch openly acknowledged the great need for additional reforms and the difficulties faced in moving forward with reform - - both in Ukrainian politics and due to the extraordinary pressures faced due to Putin’s military war on Ukraine and the pressures presented by Putin’s broader violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and mischief throughout Ukraine and in the West.

Ambassador Yovanovitch answered a number of questions and received a number of significant thank yous on behalf of the Embassy from USUBC members who had positive comments about their close working cooperation with the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv.

Companies/organizations attending the USUBC (www.USUBC.com) luncheon with the Ambassador included: ADM, AGCO, American Center for a European Ukraine, American-Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce, Atlantic Council, Baker McKenzie, Cargill, CHS, CSIS, Cub Energy, Culmen International, Elanco Animal Health, EBRD, EPAM USA, Eurasia Business Consultancy, Eurasia Foundation, First International Resources, General Electric, Honeywell, IMF,

Also the International Republican Institute, Kennan Institute, McConnell & Associates, McLarty Associates, Monsanto, National Democratic Institute, Oracle, PASS LLC, People of Ukraine Fund, Philip Morris International, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, SigmaBleyzer, Summit Strategies, Ukrainian Federation of America, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Helsinki Commission, U.S. State Department, U.S. Ukraine Foundation, USUBC and Voice of America.

(3) Don't Be So Desperate to Rub Up Against Russia - U.S. Ambassador Dan Fried - Politico

WASHINGTON - Having retired after 40 years, Dan Fried, the longest serving American diplomat was interviewed for this exception article in Politica. A few take-outs though readers should follow the link and read the whole transcript.

The “… American (foreign policy) vision came into focus, and …it was based on two things. One, our realization that our values and our interests were the same, and that our business interests would advance as our values advanced in the world.  And the second …that our security and prosperity didn’t work unless other nations were also secure, and prosperous.”

“I don’t believe it’s the end (of the liberal international order) I believe the liberal international order is under assault from Russia, and from other authoritarian regimes, and it is being questioned from within the West by nationalists, by nativists, and by people who doubt…the values of the West. We’ve gone through periods like this before.”

“Russia committed an act of aggression in Ukraine, and that’s the first time since 1945 a European country has seized the territory of another European country. That’s serious business. They started a war with their neighbor. Their troops as well as the separatists funded and controlled by Russia are killing people just about every day.

“The West responded with sanctions, and the West responded with unity. I think that unity probably kept things from getting worse, and they could have been much worse. They gave the Ukrainians time to resist.”

“I will say this: Russia despises the West. And is doing what it can to weaken the West.”

“I am not against working with Russia in areas of common interests at the same time. We’re smart enough, or we should be smart enough to have a dual track policy.”

“…Reagan did; best Soviet policy we ever had. Ronald Reagan reached out to Gorbachev. At the same time, we were pushing back against the Soviets all over the world. He was able to do two things at once, and it worked out very well for us.”

“…if we blunt Russian efforts now to be aggressive, we may be pleasantly surprised by the policy options that become available to us, in terms of working with a better Russia. Remember, the American grand strategy works when other countries feel secure. But it doesn’t work if we acquiesce in the aggression of other countries.”

“The Russian myth that they broadcast to the world, and have their various surrogates in the West repeat, is that somehow the West took advantage of them, that we were mean to them…., and frankly, I have little patience for the notion that we gave them nothing but bad advice.”

“Russia is an aggressive revisionist power. And they are working—there’s evidence they’re working to interfere not just in our electoral process, but the electoral processes of Europeans with the same toolkit—money, fake news, propaganda, and what those Soviets used to call aktivniye meropriyatiya, active measures. This is serious.”

LINK:   http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/03/ambassador-dan-fried-interview-podcast-susan-glasser-214872

LINK:  http://time.com/4682994/diplomat-daniel-fried-retirement-speech/  (a good read)

(4) Ukraine seeks U.S. support to restart negotiations between Budapest deal signatories. - Vector News

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin has pointed out that the United States as a signatory country of the Budapest Memorandum providing guarantees for Ukraine's security in exchange for its renunciation of nuclear weapons should participate in negotiations concerning Crimea and the situation in Donbas. "Of course, we need U.S. support to restart negotiations between the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum," he said. Kyiv, accusing Russia of the annexation of Crimea and aggression in Donbas, points to Moscow's violating the Budapest Memorandum and a lack of proper reaction from other signatories.

COMMENTARY:  One must applaud Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin if he pursues this effort.  But the challenge he faces is difficult because of the legacy of diplomatic lethargy left him by every Ukrainian President and Foreign Minister since 1995 which well may be used to undercut any genuine effort to depend upon the terms of the Budapest Memorandum.

The December 1994 Budapest Memorandum includes: “Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America will consult in the event a situation arises that raises a question concerning these commitments.”  “These commitments” include: “…respect[ing] the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine; …reaffirm[ing] their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defence or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations; [and] …reaffirm[ing] their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty and thus to secure advantages of any kind….”  So, as mentioned above the Memorandum says, “Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America will consult in the event a situation arises that raises a question concerning these commitments.” [Emphasis added.]

Russia has been violating one or more of these assurances since a few months after the ink dried on the Memorandum and Ukraine has not once invoked the “consult” provision in the Memorandum.  Nevertheless the United States and the United Kingdom should support the negotiations Minister Klimkin calls for now.  If nothing else in doing so and advancing the effort aggressively in the international media the important story of Russia’s decades old thuggish and dishonest behavior and Mr. Putin’s obvious approach to international agreements and the human beings living in his “neighborhood” can be emphasized. 

LINK: Ukraine seeks US support to restart negotiations between Budapest deal signatories  


(5) Ukrainian Reformer Gets A Visit from the Ukrainian Police - The Wall Street Journal

In an Op-Ed in The Wall Street Journal, NY, NY,dYulia Marushevska writes: The politicians who were lifted into power by the revolutionary ideals of 2014 must answer for their failures. By tolerating corruption, they have helped preserve the old system of oligarchs, elites and post-Soviet politicians. To those of us who stood on the barricades at the Maidan, Ukraine’s current leaders are becoming as corrupt as the government they replaced

Ten members of the Ukrainian secret service came looking for Marushevska on March 3. Armed and wearing ski masks, they brought no warrant but threatened to break down the door. Unsure what to do, her husband called the media. When the cameras arrived, her pursuers claimed they simply wanted to “invite” me to visit the prosecutor’s office. Luckily, Marushevsk was out of the country.
Marushevsk, who first came to prominence on the Maidan and as the beautiful young woman appearing on the Maidan in the short video, I am Ukrainian, which went viral after being posted in February 2014,  served as Odessa’s chief of customs, for 13 months overseeing the operations of five Black Sea ports on Europe’s eastern edge. Before her tenure that post was known as one of the most lucrative government offices in Ukraine. Tens of billions of dollars’ worth of goods pass through the ports annually.

Many of the country’s political elites have benefited for years from lax enforcement of customs laws at Odessa’s ports, which Marushevska publicly described as a “cash machine.” When she took over the job at the request of the then provincial governor of Odessa, Mikheil Saakashvili, her appointment was announced with fanfare by Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko. “You have to clean the customs office and pilot a national reform,” he told Marushevska.
So she went to work. With the help of experts on transparency and customs, she put together a plan to automate the import process and minimize the “human risks” associated with doing business at the border. Finally, realizing many leaders in Kyiv really did not want her reforms she tendered her resignation in November 2016, but the state fiscal service would not accept it.  She was fired in January.  Now prosecutor general of Ukraine, it has been reported, has accused her of fraud and abuse of power. Such actions send an unmistakable message to any young person who works for a reformed and democratic Ukraine: There can be a price to be paid. 
COMMENTARY: Reality strikes! Marushevska’s story is so telling and so important. USUBC members who have attended several gatherings over the last months have heard stories.  There was the day that a new entrant into investing and doing business in Ukraine related how bringing goods into Ukraine was fraught with corruption and demands for bribes everywhere except in Odessa.  There also have been guest speakers from Ukraine who came to Washington and pitched fantasies about their efforts to clean up customs and denounced such people as Marushevska.

Too many visitors think Washington doesn’t know what is going on. The rampant corruption tolerated in the Ukrainian government is infuriating and deeply disappointing. The people of Ukraine have gone to the streets in protest over corruption of all kinds – from Mothers of Afghan Soldiers, from the outrage over the Kremlin’s corruption exposed by Chornobyl, to the Maidan of the Orange Revolution, to the so-called Maidan Revolution of Dignity, civil society has been consistent and consistently let down.  Thankfully there are young people in the present Ukrainian government trying their best.  One must fear who will replace them if they ever give up and step down.

Here in Washington, on the statue of Taras Shevchenko at the corner of 22nd and P Streets, NW, Shevchenko’s famous quote is prominent, "When will Ukraine have its Washington with fair and just laws?" George Weigel said it just right in his December National Review article, “President Petro Poroshenko has yet to decide whether he wants to be the George Washington of his country or a billionaire.”  

Link to the Yulia Marushevska op-ed:Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Link to the Geoirge Weigel article: http://www.nationalreview.com/node/443407/print

(6) Ukraine’s Finance Minister reached agreement with the IMF -

WASHINGTON - Ukraine and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reached agreements on the third revision under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) program, within which a decision on the allocation of the next tranche for Ukraine could be taken between 20 and 22 March.
Ukraine’s Finance Minister Oleksandr Danyliuk said this following his meeting last week with IMF representatives in Washington. “There is a full understanding that we move in the right direction and that we work as partners - not only asking for aid, but rather moving together in changing the country, said the Minister. ”

Link:  https://www.ukrinform.ua/rubric-economics/2188528-daniluk-rozpoviv-koli-mvf-moze-vidiliti-nastupnij-trans-ukraini.html

(7) Former Estonian President: Europe Will be ‘Main Battlefield’ Over Next Year for Russian Election Meddling – Washington Free Beacon:

WASHINGTON - Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Estonia's president from 2006 to 2016, last week testified before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs committee that the Kremlin's recent attempts to target European elections appear aimed at splitting up the European Union and NATO alliances. "Certainly the candidates who are being supported are ones who are anti-EU and anti-NATO. The most prominent, of course, in the key country of France, is Marine Le Pen," Ilves said, referring to the leader of France's far-right National Front. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) convened the hearing to look at Russia’s global efforts to undermine democratic states, Undermining Democratic Institutions and Splintering NATO: Russian Disinformation Aims.

In addition to Ilves other witnesses were: The Honorable Lincoln P. Bloomfield, Jr., Chairman Emeritus and Distinguished Fellow, The Stimson Center (Former Assistant Secretary for Political Military Affairs, U.S. Department of State); Peter B. Doran, Executive Vice President, Center for European Policy Analysis and The Honorable Daniel Baer (Former U.S. Representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe)

LinkWashington Free Beacon

(8) Half of All Current Russian Residents were Born after 1991 – After the Fall of the Soviet Union –

Window on Eurasia/Paul Goble:.
Although the Putin government remains obsessed with the Soviet past, this year marks an important tipping point: half of all residents of the Russian Federation were born after the USSR ceased to exist.  And among those born since 1991, the share of ethnic Russians is down and that of non-Russians and especially Muslims up. But perhaps the greatest disconnect between Putin and reality as far as demography is concerned is this: Putin is promoting a conservative mobilization effort predicated on the notion that Russians remain predominantly rural when in fact they are now overwhelmingly urban.
COMMENTARY: The important Russian dynamic discussed here certainly is critical to viewing Russia today.  It would also seem something similar must be the case in Ukraine – a significant percentage of the population having never lived under Soviet Communism and Kremlin repression.  Indeed, some Ukrainian government officials seem to know less about Ukraine’s years just before and immediately after independence than some in Washington who were involved – especially and importantly in the very early stages of U.S.-Ukraine relations. 



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