Upcoming Events 2020
US-UA Security Dialogue XI
Washington, DC
March 5, 2020 
New York City
April 30, 2020
US-UA WG Yearly Summit VIII
New York City [Webcasting]
June 17-18, 2020

US-UA Energy Dialogue SE
Washington DC [Webcasting]
June 29, 2020 
UA HES Special Event:
Ukrainians in 1945/75th 
Year Retrospective 
Ukrainian Institute of America
September 26, 2020 
Washington, DC
October 22, 2020
PL-LT-UA Relations
Chicago, IL 
November 14, 2020 


CUSUR 2016 - Project I
US-UA “Working Group” Initiative

The US-Ukraine “Working Group” Initiative was launched in 2007 in order to secure an array of experts in "areas of interest” for CUSUR and its various forums/proceedings; at the same time, it was hoped that the ‘experts’ might agree to write a series of ‘occasional papers’ to identify “major issues” impacting on US-Ukrainian relations.
CUSUR 2017 - Project II
Publication Efforts

Recognizing the urgent need to set up proper channels for the maximum circulation of the information/analysis CUSUR possessed or had at its disposal, the Center long focused on having ‘a publication presence’ of some form or another.
CUSUR 2019 - Project III
DC Occasional Briefings Series

CUSUR did not turn its attention to having a DC presence until summer 2012. Borrowing space when the need arose (particularly for various forum steering committees meetings) from the American Foreign Policy Council, its longest abiding partner, seemed to suffice; an Acela ride from the Center’s NY office did the rest. If there was a concern, it was to open an office in Kyiv.
The View From Washington: Ukraine is Not Russia

Ukraine's Quest for Mature Nation Statehood

Source: The Romyr Report

The View From Washington: Ukraine is Not Russia

Zbigniew Brzezinski, the influential US foreign policy commentator and former advisor in the Carter administration, said that the final results of the US presidential election would have little impact on US-Ukraine relations unless some fundamental changes occur. The changes must be made in the practical approaches to relations by both Ukrainians and Americans, he explained, in order to improve upon the current state of affairs.

Brzezinski was speaking at a round table organized by Ukrainian Americans in September. Prior to Brzezinski's speech, spokesmen from the Democrat and Republican camps outlined possible directions of US foreign policy towards Ukraine. Democrats argued that the US would continue building on the achievements of the past eight years, including the Kuchma-Gore Commission, and pointed out that it was the Republican candidate's father who delivered the infamous "Chicken Kiev" speech at the dawn of Ukrainian independence.

In response, the Republicans criticized the Clinton team's approach to Ukraine. In its nine years of existence as an independent country, Ukraine has seen eight years of a Democratic approach to relations. The Republicans said they would refocus US priorities to "trade, not aid."

Speaking afterwards, Brzezinski noted that, regardless of who wins the elections, both Democrats and Republicans would continue pursuing a policy of "cautious engagement." Brzezinski said the US has been "rhetorically more generous than substantive."

Brzezinski put the blame for the shortcomings on both the US and Ukrainian political establishments. He said that Americans have a "blurred view" of Ukraine, often lumping the country together with Russia. Ukrainians contribute to the blurred view by not doing enough to focus the way Ukraine is presented and perceived in the West.

Brzezinski stressed the importance of a unique relationship between Washington and Kyiv, and criticized the US State Department's "Newly Independent State" designation for Ukraine and other countries of the former Soviet Union. Brzezinski said that normal trade relations between the US and Ukraine should not be held hostage to trade relations with Russia. The US has declined to grant Ukraine "permanent normal trade relations" status ‹ the US equivalent of "most favored nations" status ‹ based on an argument that Ukraine needs to improve its human rights record. The US, however, granted China "pntr" status earlier this year, and Ukraine's human rights record is considered to be better than China's.

Brzezinski proposed a new "theme" for bilateral relations the essence of which is captured in the simple phrase: "Ukraine is not Russia." This theme, Brzezinski explained, needs to be acknowledged and accepted by the political establishments in Ukraine and the US.

Ukraine is NOT Russia

Brzezinski compared Ukraine and Russia to highlight the differences between the two countries on various issues such as human rights, democratic change, corruption, and foreign aid.

1. The US is not conscious of that fact that Ukraine's record on human rights is different and better than that of Russia. There is no situation in Ukraine that parallels Russia's problems in Chechnya. Ukraine has dealt well with issues around potential Crimean secession. The language issue, too, has been handled with skill and self-restraint.

2. Ukraine's record as a functioning democracy is better than Russia's. Ukraine saw its first peaceful transfer of executive branch power in 1994 (Kravchuk-Kuchma). This was six years before a Russian leader came into office peacefully when Russia elected Vladimir Putin in 2000.

3. The scale of corruption in Ukraine is nowhere near that in Russia.

4. Ukraine has a different attitude toward relations with Europe and the United States. Ukraine has pledged to do everything necessary to join the European community of nations. Ukraine has not objected to NATO enlargement. Furthermore, Ukraine does not support any anti-US regimes, and it participates in joint military maneuvers with NATO.

5. Ukraine has introduced private land ownership in the framework of economic reforms. This is changing the Ukrainian people's cultural mindset and contributing to the growth of a pluralistic society.

6. Ukraine has a better record of handling foreign aid. Financial scandals crop up less frequently in Ukraine, and involve sums that are dwarfed by the amounts in Russian financial scandals.

7. Ukraine has a long way to go, but has a more forward-looking perspective than Russia. Ukraine has made a choice, he said, and it is not being misguided by nostalgia for a historical past, as is the case in Russia. Ukraine, according to Brzezinski, has begun to tackle major reforms.

Brzezinski's "Themes" for US-Ukraine Relations

Over the years, Brzezinski has stressed the importance of Ukrainian independence to European security. In his book, The Grand Chessboard, Brzezinski argues that a Europe that does not include Ukraine is incomplete. To illustrate the importance this, Brzezinski has developed a number of central "themes" for relations with Ukraine.
  1. Ukraine's independence transforms the geopolitical map of Europe
  2. Ukraine's independence marks the end of the imperial era of Russian history.
  3. Ukraine's continued independence and security will contribute to European stability, specifically Central European security. This is just as important as NATO expansion.
  4. Ukraine's independence is important to the internal evolutionary processes within Russia. Acceptance of Ukraine as a separate country will mark an important change in the Russian political mind set.
  5. Ukraine's future lies in a larger Europe, in a larger transatlantic community.
  6. Ukraine has been successful in gaining international recognition for independence, but those efforts were not complemented and matched by reform.
  7. Ukraine's leaders need to be more deliberate in defining the society as Central European and building a national consciousness.
  8. Ukraine is NOT Russia.

What is Russia?

The notion that "Ukraine is not Russia" begs the question "What is Russia?" Brzezinski addressed the issue by defining two Russias -- "Putin's Russia" and "People's Russia". Putin's Russia is one with nostalgia for the Soviet era, with a strong KGB, and a powerful centralized state. The People's Russia is one currently experiencing an awakening and embracing democracy. If successful, the People's Russia will also be an important part of Europe.

Brzezinski suggested that the advocates of "Putin's Russia" are being misguided by nostalgia for the country's rich history. Two empires crashed at once for the Russians, Brzezinski explained ‹ the Soviet and the Russian empires. Soviet rule lasted 70 years, but the Russian empire existed for more than 350 years. Brzezinski cautioned the West about making "naive assumptions" concerning the major transformation required in Russian society to eliminate a yearning for the Empire.

Brzezinski noted that Russian acceptance of Ukraine as a truly independent state will mark an important change in the Russian political mind set and contribute to Russia's evolution as a democracy.

Ukraine's role and self-perception

"The European-American alliance needs to include Ukraine," Brzezinski said. "The question is "Do Ukrainians share that view?""

Concerning the significance of the "we are not Russia" theme for Ukraine's political elite, he encouraged the country's leaders to be more willful and convince the West that it is, in fact, very different from Russia. He suggested that the Ukrainian political elite's process of self-definition is an incomplete, ongoing process. He noted a variation in the language of Ukrainian policy that mentions "cooperation" with Europe, instead of "inclusion" and "integration." "I hope it's merely semantics and doesn't have any significance," Brzezinski said.He also challenged Ukraine to help move Minsk, the capital of Belarus, towards Europe.

In an interesting variation to the GUUAM (Georgia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova) initiative, Brzezinski suggested that adjacent countries, like Poland Turkey and Romania be invited as observers to GUUAM gatherings. After the UN's Millennium Summit, it was announced that GUUAM's presidents will meet annually, and foreign ministers will attend more frequent meetings. This announcement marks an increase in the organization's activity.

"Ukraine has to be a player. The approach that argues "give us more aid or we'll collapse" makes one ask: "Why should your collapse be important for me, but not important to you?"

"Ukraine's network of embassies and consulates in the West could be used far more effectively to promote and explain Ukraine's interests. The Ukrainian Diaspora, who developed their own organizational network for lobbying pro-independence interests during Soviet times, is a resource that remains under-utilized by Kyiv.

"Poland managed to convince the United States that what happens to them and the region is relevant to US strategic importance." Brzezinski noted. Ukraine's leaders should learn from the Polish experience, Brzezinski noted.

The round table "Ukraine's Quest for Mature Nation Statehood" was held in Washington on September 19 and 20, 2000. Dr. Brzezinski is currently a Counselor for the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Under US President Jimmy Carter, he headed the National Security and Defense Council. Between 1977-81, he was a presidential Advisor on National Security.


Past Highlight Events

RT XVII Items of Note
Highlights from Ukraine's Quest for Mature Nation Statehood RT XVII: Ukraine & Religious Freedom, held in Washington, DC on Oct. 27, 2016
UA HES SE: UA 25th B-Day
Highlights from UA HES Special Event: 'Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Modern Ukrainian State', held at the NY Princeton Club on Sept. 17, 2016
US-UA WG YS IV Highlights
Highlights from US-UA WG Yearly Summit IV: Providing Ukraine with an Annual Report Card, held at the University Club in Washington, DC on June 16, 2016
US-UA SD VII Items of Note
Highlights from US-Ukraine Security Dialogue VII held on February 25, 2016 in Washington DC
UA HES SE: WW2 Legacy
Highlights from the UA Historical Encounters Special Event: 'Contested Ground': The Legacy of WW2 in Eastern Europe, held in Edmonton on October 23-24, 2015
Holodomor SE Highlights
Highlights from the UA Historical Encounters Special Event: Taking Measure of the Holodomor, held at the Princeton Club of NY on November 5-6, 2013
US-UA SD III Items of Note
Highlights from US-Ukraine Security Dialogue III held on May 19, 2012 in Chicago, IL

  • Former UA Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko's keynote
UEAF Forum VI Highlights
Highlights from UEAF Forum VI, held in Ottawa, Canada on March 7-8, 2012
RT XII Items of Note
Highlights from Ukraine's Quest for Mature Nation Statehood RT XII: PL-UA & TR-UA, held in Washington, DC on Oct 19–20, 2011
US-UA ED III Items of Note
Highlights from US-Ukraine Energy Dialogue III, held in Washington DC
on April 15-16, 2008
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