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.
RTIII—Ukrainian Weekly Report #2

Day 2 of the third annual roundtable on Ukraine highlights relations with NATO, WTO and U.S.

by Andrew Nynka

WASHINGTON - Academics and foreign policy experts representing Ukrainian, American and European organizations and governments gathered here for a roundtable on "Ukraine's Quest for Mature Nation Statehood" on October 8-9 to discuss Ukraine's place in Europe.

The third annual roundtable, hosted by the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America and a number of sponsors and organizers, drew over 300 individuals to the heart of the U.S. capitol to evaluate and discuss Ukraine's attempt to integrate with the Euro-Atlantic community.

* * *

Below is the second of a two-part series covering the roundtable, "Ukraine's Quest for Mature Nation Statehood." Coverage of the first day's topics, in an article published in last week's (October 20) issue of The Weekly, included: the progress Ukraine has made in moving toward Euro-Atlantic structures by examining the country's market economy, military structures and democratic polity; the investment and business climate in Ukraine; and an assessment of European Union-Ukraine relations.

Coverage of the second day's topics, in this week's article, includes: Ukraine's relations with the United States, specifically, the development of a strategic partnership, U.S. assistance for Ukraine's effort to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the contributions Ukraine has made to the U.S.-led global war on terrorism; media freedoms from the vantage point of Ukrainian journalists; and NATO's relationship with Ukraine in terms of expansion and NATO-Ukraine cooperation.

* * *

Opening the morning session on October 9, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, in emphasizing his support and "great respect" for what the Ukrainian nation had done to preserve and maintain its religion, identity and language, offered suggestions on how to move Ukraine closer to the European community.

Ukraine is at a disadvantage by not having most-favored-nation trade status with the United States, Sen. Levin said. "By drawing Ukraine into normal trade relations," the chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee said, "we could help Ukraine to achieve greater economic reform."

Sen. Levin also called the Jackson-Vanik ammendment - U.S. legislation adopted in 1974 to promote free emigration from the Soviet Union - "simply outdated and, when applied to Ukraine, inappropriate and wrong." He said Ukraine had allowed, for many years, its people to enter and exit the country.

U.S.-Ukraine relations

While Sen. Levin commended Ukraine for a willingness to join Euro-Atlantic structures, such as NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Sarah Lenti, the associate director for European and Eurasian affairs at the National Security Council, said there was reason to be skeptical about the actual level of commitment from the Ukrainian leadership, at the highest levels, to Euro-Atlantic values of security and democracy.

Specifically, Ms. Lenti said, Ukraine's heavy arms transfer to Macedonia in October 2001 and January 2002, despite previous assurances by President Kuchma to senior U.S. and NATO officials on the suspension of such transfers, had deeply troubled U.S. officials and strained the U.S.-Ukraine relationship.

But the foremost factors straining U.S.-Ukraine relations, many panelists said, are the continued allegations of corruption and impropriety in the Ukrainian presidential administration regarding the still unsolved murders of several Ukrainian journalists and the possibility of illegal arms sales to Iraq.

Hennadii Udovenko, who currently chairs the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Human Rights, Ethnic Minorities and Interethnic Relations, said that relations can be strengthened only by strengthening Ukrainian statehood, which can be done by encouraging democratic and economic reforms.

However, many roundtable participants, including Ms. Lenti, made a distinction between the present Ukrainian leadership and Ukraine's civil society. Ms. Lenti said that civil society, as opposed to the Ukrainian leadership, is "showing a genuine movement towards democracy."

"There exist in Ukraine people who are committed to democracy, free markets and security," Ms. Lenti said. She cited teachers, farmers, regional leaders, government workers, hard-working parents and committed students as examples.

Ms. Lenti added that the U.S. would work with Ukraine's leadership and its people to continue reform efforts. "Our ability to do so," she added, "will be a function of the quality of our partners."

Several roundtable speakers noted that, although the current state of U.S.-Ukraine relations had soured, the strategic partnership between the two countries had produced constructive results, such as the decommissioning of Ukraine's nuclear arsenal, and Ukraine's participation in international peacekeeping missions and cooperation in the U.S. campaign against terrorism.

That same relationship, noted Shaun Donnelly, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs, would play an important role in helping Ukraine gain membership in the World Trade Organization.

Mr. Donnelly said that, while Ukrainian membership in the WTO is also in America's interests, the U.S. would not ease standards for Ukraine's entrance. He added that no country had done more to help Ukraine along the path to the WTO than the U.S.

"But Ukraine still remains highly resistant to imports and has earned the reputation of being more protectionist than [pro-]free trade," Mr. Donnelly said.

Other significant issues hampering Ukrainian membership in the WTO are left unresolved, American and European panelists said. The issue of intellectual property rights, Mr. Donnelly added, is so serious and resistant to significant progress that the U.S. imposed economic sanctions on Ukraine in January.

Also, Ukraine's selective enforcement of tax laws has remained a rather large impediment, not only to foreign investment, Mr. Donnelly said, but to attaining the standards required by the WTO for candidate countries.

Re-establishing the partnership that panelists said once existed between the United States and Ukraine would be a first step toward gaining American support in Ukraine's quest for WTO membership.

Many of these same issues, specifically arms sales and allegations of executive-level corruption, have led experts to question a U.S.-Ukraine security partnership, while the United States is looking for geostrategic East European and Mideast partners in the fight against terrorism.

Ukraine could figure prominently in such a strategic role - indeed some panelists said, it already has by granting overflight rights - others question the Ukrainian government's ethics as a security-related issue.

"Can such a government be a friend and ally to the U.S. in a difficult security period?" asked Ariel Cohen, a research fellow in Russian and Eurasian studies at the Heritage Foundation.

Nonetheless, many panelists suggested that Ukraine's contributions to the war on terrorism were a separate, and positive, component of the U.S.-Ukraine relationship.

"Ukraine has embedded itself in the international web of mechanisms against terrorism," said Nicholas Krawciw, retired U.S. Army general. Ukraine has also shown "a concrete record of support in reshaping an Afghan National Army" and, Gen. Krawciw added, the nearly 5,000 flights of U.S. planes over Ukraine since the U.S. war on terror began had been very useful.

Gen. Krawciw, who is currently president of the Dupuy Institute, said that recent assurances from "the highest levels of the Ukrainian government" that U.S. investigations into the Kolchuha affair would receive "complete cooperation" from Ukrainian officials, could begin to resolve the current "crisis of confidence" in U.S.-Ukraine relations.

Freedom of the press

While there seemed to be no doubt among roundtable participants that journalists in Ukraine lack the freedoms of the Western media, a relatively new issue has emerged regarding Ukrainian journalism. The idea of "temnyky," while not new to Ukrainian journalists, has morphed into a new tangible form, panelists said.

Ukrainian broadcast journalist Andrii Shevchenko of Novyi Kanal said that use of temnyky - which he later speculated to be an "official government press release" - was an attempt by government officials to continue influencing journalists. While previously calls were made in order to instruct journalists to report on certain issues and not others, now, Mr. Shevchenko said, temnyky are anonymously printed and widely distributed, eliminating the need for time-consuming phone calls.

Mr. Shevchenko said that Ukrainian journalists are currently in "a war for our profession." He also described the situation as an "ongoing battle to do our jobs." Panelists, however, also offered suggestions for improving the situation for journalists in Ukraine.

The need for professional schools of journalism and foreign aid for independent media in Ukraine seemed to top the list of suggestions to improve the current condition of Ukrainian journalists; some panelists also noted these could lay a foundation for building democracy in Ukraine.

A number of Ukrainians hear only about pro-presidential party candidates during elections and information on opposition parties often does not reach the Ukrainian masses, said Oleksander Kryvenko of Hromadske Radio, a Ukrainian radio station modeled after National Public Radio in the U.S., because large media organizations that have the ability to distribute their message to much of Ukraine are almost exclusively tied to certain politicians and promote specific political interests.

Mr. Shevchenko even suggested that both the UNIAN and Interfax news services were experiencing some form of influence over their coverage of Ukrainian news.

Ukraine-NATO relations

While some panelists said Ukraine stands ready to join the next wave of new NATO members, others said Ukraine's place in NATO will be determined solely based on the actions Ukraine's leadership takes to correct numerous internal problems.

Some fears were raised that if Ukraine is not included in the next round of NATO expansion, a disenfranchised Ukraine could discard its reform efforts and the country might look to Eurasian treaties and institutions for diplomatic and economic survival.

Dr. Angela Stent, director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies and professor of government at Georgetown University, said Ukraine now has the choice of seeking membership in European institutions such as NATO or signing on to the Tashkent Treaty, a collective defense commitment created in 1992 among some of the members of the Commonwealth of Independent States, which would be seen as a move away from Europe. Dr. Stent said, however, that the next round of NATO enlargement would not result in Ukraine's isolation.

James Sherr, lecturer of international relations at Oxford University in England, said the current situation in Ukraine makes it highly unlikely that the country could become a NATO member. Ukraine must escape its Soviet past and make reforms to military, political and diplomatic structures, he said.

Mr. Sherr added that Ukraine can make reforms and move towards NATO and the Euro-Atlantic community by recognizing its own distinct nature, as opposed to emulating the path to NATO taken by Russia or other former Soviet states. He said that NATO would not move toward Ukraine, but that Ukraine must be the one to re-energize its stalled reform efforts.

Mr. Sherr, who is also a fellow at the United Kingdom's Defense Academy, did say, however, that NATO membership for Ukraine is possible because the country understands its problems well and knows what is necessary to fix them. It just requires the right political force to make those changes.

Serhii Pyrozhkov, deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, said NATO had provided guidance and assistance to Ukraine. He also said that through military cooperation and joint exercises, both NATO and Ukraine had begun to trust one another.

Robert Legvold, a professor of political science at Columbia University, said Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic destiny is in its own hands. He said Ukraine's international, strategic and military environment is the best it's ever been and that the Ukrainian government is now committed to Europe.

Dr. Legvold said NATO member-countries welcome that Ukraine would choose a Euro-Atlantic path, but he said NATO members differ on whether Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic membership is feasible.

Dmytro Tabachnyk, chair of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Foreign Relations, said that NATO double standards towards Ukraine were working against the country. He said he recognizes the need to create a constructive alliance between Ukraine and NATO, but said that, while other countries infringe on their Membership Action Plans and are not held to task, Ukraine is often reproached for doing so.

"Ukraine seems to have high demands placed on it and double standards it must battle. This needs to be overcome," Mr. Tabachnyk said. "We understand the benefit to the Ukrainian people of NATO standards and benefits, but we must have strict adherence to regulations and then we can make the move to NATO."

In the end, the panel seemed generally to agree that any serious consideration of Ukraine as a NATO candidate is premature. Currently the question of whether Ukraine has attained NATO standards seems less of an issue because recent events in Ukraine indicate the country must now demonstrate sound democratic principles.

U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon said in his keynote address that both he and a core group of members of both major political parties in the U.S. Congress will support Ukraine for the duration of their Congressional terms. He also added that "Ukraine must understand that it needs to be a strategic partner," and he underscored that it is the Ukrainian citizenry who will decide the country's future.

Mr. Udovenko said that while the roundtable may strongly contribute to the improvement of U.S.-Ukraine relations and "possibly give a better understanding to the current U.S. administration that Ukraine - despite the scandals - is important for the U.S."


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
© 2020 CUSUR—Center for US Ukrainian Relations