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USUBC - Washington Watch No. 8
U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC),
Washington, D.C. Thu, Feb 9, 2017
(1) Over seventy (70) leaders from Ukraine were in Washington, D.C. last week ----
Over seventy leaders from Ukraine were in Washington, D.C. last week. Many of them attended the National Prayer Breakfast held on Thursday, February 2, 2017. Most of them also had a variety of other meetings around Washington during the week on Capitol Hill, with the Department of State, other government agencies, law firms, etc. The Embassy of Ukraine in the USA held a reception for the delegation at the Embassy on Wednesday evening, February 1, 2017. Several USUBC staff members attended the reception. Some of the leaders from Ukraine in Washington, according to reports, included the following:
1. Vitaliy Kovalchuk, First Deputy Head of Presidential Administration
2. Roman Nasirov, Head of the Tax Authority (USUBC held a Roundtable meeting with Roman Nasirov on Wed, Feb 1, 2017. Over 50 persons attended)
3. Andriy Pavelko, member of Parliament, Head of the Budget Committee, Petro Poroshenko Block (Pavelko attended the USUBC Roundtable)
4. Yaroslav Dubnevych, member of Parliament, Head of the Transportation Committee, Petro Poroshenko block (Dubnevych attended the USUBC Roundtable)
5. Yuriy Artemenko, Head of National Television and Broadcasting Council
6. Oksana Prodan, member of Parliament, Petro Poroshenko Block (USUBC staff members had a private meeting with MP Prodan about supporting pro-business legislation in the Rada)
7. Oksana Bilozir, member of Parliament, Petro Poroshenko Block
8. Oleh Kryshyn. member of Parliament, People's Front
9. Nazar Kholodnytskiy, Head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau
10. Artur Gerasymov, member of Parliament, Petro Poroshenko Block
11. Andriy Artemenko, member of Parliament, Radical Party of Ukraine
12. Valeriy Karpuntsov, member of Parliament, Petro Poroshenko Block
13. Georgiy Logvynskiy, member of Parliament, People's Front
14. Yulia Lyovochkina, member of Parliament, Opposition Block
15. Yuriy Myrishnichenko, member of Parliament, Opposition Block
16. Hryhoriy Nemyria, member of Parliament, Batkivshchyna
17. Yulia Tymoshenko, member of Parliament, Head of Batkivshchyna faction
18. Pavlo Unguryan, member of Parliament, People's Front
19. Oleksandr Urbanskiy, member of Parliament, Petro Poroshenko Block
20. Anatoliy Urbanskiy. Chair of Odessa Oblast Administration
21. Oleksandr Fishchuk, Head of Chernivtsi Oblast State Administration
22. Ivan Muntyan, Chair of Chernivtsi Oblast Council
23. Iryna Vereshchuk, President of the International Center for Black Sea-Baltic Sea Studies, member of the Amber World Association
(2) Trump administration issues perplexing statement on whereabouts of Ukraine conflict – The Wall Street Journal -
The Trump administration added to confusion about its policy on Russia and Ukraine with a statement after a phone call with Ukraine’s president that noted Russia’s involvement in the conflict there but appeared to be a mistake where the fighting is taking place. U.S. statement said aim is to restore peace along the border, even though fighting is taking place inside Ukraine.
Commentary: Who knows when there will be a genuine understanding of where President Trump is on Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine and on Russia and Putin themselves? It would seem that like so many since the breakup of the Soviet Union the President has much to learn about the history involved, the truth vs Russia’s phony narrative and much more. Hopefully though, time will teach and a realistic picture of Putin and his government will emerge. It is important for the Trump Administration to understand this is not a civil war. It is a war started by President Putin and his associates when he invaded Crimea and eastern Ukraine. This is a major conflict Russia started, not a conflict Ukraine started.
(3) READOUT OF THE PRESIDENT’S CALL WITH PRESIDENT PETRO POROSHENKO OF UKRAINE - The White House, Feb 4, 2017
WHITE HOUSE - President Donald J. Trump just had [5 p.m. Saturday] a very good call with President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine to address a variety of topics, including Ukraine's long-running conflict with Russia. "We will work with Ukraine, Russia, and all other parties involved to help them restore peace along the border," said President Trump. Also discussed was the potential for a meeting in the near future.
COMMENTARY - It is interesting to also note the readout from The White House said 'Ukraine's long-running conflict with Russia', instead of correctly saying Russia's long-running conflict with Ukraine."
(4) Trump tells Ukrainian politician Tymoshenko in Washington he won't lift Russia sanctions – Politico –
The annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington is a magnet for Ukrainian politicians, a place to be seen and to have their pictures taken. The annual Washington question is “don’t they (the Ukrainian politicians) have things they should be doing back home that are more important?”
But sometimes, like last week, something relevant to Ukraine actually happens. Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was able to position herself strategically at the breakfast so that she would have the opportunity to share a few words with President Trump. Obviously the former Prime minister has seen how Members of Congress position themselves when a President comes to Congress to deliver the State of the Union address.
They get there early and line the aisle the president will use coming into the House Chamber so that there will be that moment when they can shake hands and be caught by the television camera. You have to give Tymoshenko credit, she pulled it off and got a few words with President Trump.
Then later, at several meetings with Washington think tanks, PVO's, etc, Tymoshenko apparently told the audiences Trump had said he would “not abandon” Ukraine, would not 'leave Ukraine without support' and that he would not remove sanction unless Russia withdrew from Ukraine. Obviously this was huge and good news for Ukraine. There was no official report issued about the meeting.
Commentary: Sharing dirty laundry – the Ukrainian way. However, Ukrainian politicians never let good news interfere with bitter rivalries. In Kyiv President Poroshenko’s people had to put domestic politics ahead of national interests and try publicly to question the meeting and restate the President’s hopes to meet with Trump in the near future. All that might be relevant in Kyiv but for international consumption shouldn’t the response have been, “We were very pleased to hear about President Trump’s assurances and we hope Ms. Tymoshenko will share further details unpin her return.”
NOTE: USUBC staff attended a small meeting with Yulia Tymoshenko in Washington.
Link: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/trump-ukraine-russia-sanctions-234631(5) NATO Shelves Plan to Meet With Ukraine – The Wall Street Journal – This is a new sign the alliance is trying to avoid provoking Russia
Commentary: When will they learn? Russia manufactures reasons to be provoked even when there is nothing to be provoked about. NATO is dancing a dance unrecognized in the Kremlin.
(6) Rex Tillerson Is Confirmed as Secretary of State Amid Record Opposition – The New York Times
Link: New York Times
(7) McCain Urges Trump to Give Ukraine Lethal Defensive Aid – Weekly Standard – Senator McCain continues to be a voice for Ukraine.
(8) Putin’s Bad Ukraine Deal - The Russian strongman wants the U.S. to ratify its territorial gains – The Wall Street Journal – editorial –
President Trump says he knows a bad deal when he sees it, and Vladimir Putin is offering him one on Ukraine. “That’s the meaning of this week’s escalation by Kremlin-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine that has resulted in some of the worst fighting since the Russian strongman launched his invasion in 2014.”
Commentary: Mr. Trump has only been in office a matter of days and Putin apparently is counting on Trump being stupid or completely unable to see the obvious when it comes to Russia. Instead of being clever, Putin is flaunting his thuggery. Let us hope Trump understands what others have learned – Putin is a thug, a liar and someone who has to be treated as such.
(9) United States Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, Blames Russia For New Ukraine Violence – The Huffington Post – Haley, who was strong on Ukraine during her confirmation hearings was very clear at the U.N., “The dire situation in eastern Ukraine is one that demands clear and strong condemnation of Russian actions.”
(10) The Stand with Ukraine Act is re-introduced in the House of Representatives –
H.R. 830, To contain, reverse, and deter Russian aggression in Ukraine, to assist Ukraine's democratic transition, and for other purposes., has been reintroduced in the House of Representatives. Recall that this legislation (exact same wording) was passed by the House of Representatives last year but did not advance in the Senate.
Commentary: The primary sponsor of the legislation is Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Original co-sponsors are: Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Brendan Boyle (D-PA), Michael Burgess (R-TX), David Cirilline (D-RI), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Gerald Connolly (D-VA), Jim Costa (D-CA), John Delaney (D-MD), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Andy Harris (R-MD), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), William Keating (D-MA), Robin Kelly (D-IL), Sander Levin (D-MI), Bobby Rush (D-IL), John Shimkus (R-IL), Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Ann Wagner (R-MO), Randy Weber (R-TX)
(11) U.S. House Ukraine Caucus issues statement on Russia’s war on Ukraine –
Link: Bipartisan Ukrainian Caucus Co-Chairs Statement on Escalation of Violence in Eastern Ukraine
(12) Trump and Putin have first official phone conversation amid European anxiety about future relations – Los Angeles Times - The pair discussed combating terrorism, confronting Islamic State militants, the crisis in Ukraine and the Iranian nuclear deal, according to a statement from the Kremlin. Moscow said the topic of easing U.S. sanctions against Russia over its 2014 annexation of Crimea did not come up.
Commentary: Given the brief press releases from the White House and the Kremlin after the call it is not clear what exactly was said. However, the call by itself broke the “isolation” policy initiated after Putin invaded Ukraine. And, the apparent promise of a meeting between Trump and Putin gives Putin standing he has so long sought (parity with Washington). Not sure what the U.S. thinks it will get – help with ISIS? How has that being working? For that matter, has Trump noticed that extreme increase in Russia-caused hostilities in Eastern Ukraine since the call?
(13) What Putin Got and What Trump Gave Up in Phone Call – Window on Eurasia (Paul Goble) –
The trend begun with this telephone conversation has some deep and disturbing precedents: When Nevil Chamberlain returned from Munich, he celebrated what he said was the fact that Hitler really liked him and that such feelings could be the basis for a new era of good feelings between Germany and the United Kingdom.
Commentary: It was such a relief to many when President Trump said that it was much too early to consider anything regarding sanctions but, if the always astute and careful observer Goble is correct, as he usually is, there is much to be concerned about in the coming months.
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NEWS: For the latest news about Ukraine go to the KYIV POST website: www.KyivPost.com.
The Kyiv Post of the ISTIL Group is a member of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC).
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