In 2007, CUSUR launched an Initiative in order to secure an array of experts in “areas of interest” for the Center 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.
As a start, four “areas of interest” were identified: politics-diplomacy, economics, security and historical-culturological. Once identified, appropriate ‘analytic networks’ were created. CUSUR’s analytic networks, when operating in tandem, came to constitute the “US-Ukraine Working Group”. The Group presently consists of 20 (5 from each sector of analytic interest for CUSUR) government, NGO and academic “specialists” from Ukraine and an equal number of counterparts from the United States (40 individuals in all).
The US-Ukraine initiative eventually spawned an interest in creating an informational presence capable of highlighting ‘CUSUR event/conference presentations of particular import’ as well as ‘the mentioned occasional papers’, or more precisely, prompted a determination to establish a bi-annual Journal of Ukrainian Affairs.
Concurrently, the network began contemplating an annual “US-UA Leadership Summit”. As originally envisioned, the gathering was intended to be a venue for focusing attention on the categories of interest named in the US-Ukraine Strategic Partnership Charter (and incidentally reflected exactly in CUSUR’s ‘analytic sectors’). The effort’s ultimate objective was to find or suggest ways to strengthen ties between the two countries in the near and far future.
Over time (starting in 2010), the anticipated Summit evolved a new and somewhat different task: to provide a yearly “six subject report card” on Ukraine’s “progress/regress with regard to robust democratic politics, developed market economics, ever greater general security, ever greater energy security, viable social cohesion and an established (yet tolerant) national identity”; its recalibrated goal was “to take accurate measure” of the status of the US-Ukrainian relations going forward. The step was taken because of repeated reports that the prevailing Ukrainian political leadership was ‘backsliding’ in several of the outlined categories (the last two categories—viable social cohesion and established national identity—were, in fact, added to monitor any indication of ‘critical internal or external erosion of UA sovereignty’).
In 2012, a ‘Summit’ dress rehearsal (Ukraine’s ‘Report Card’ on the Eve of Parliamentary Elections) was run as part of the UA Quest for Mature Nation Statehood RT Series—somewhat appropriately given that any ‘backsliding’ would in fact impact on the quest in question.
2013 saw the successful launch of the gathering as a ‘stand-alone’ endeavor under a new ‘brand name’: US-UA WG Yearly Summit. In 2014, 2015 and again in 2016, CUSUR’s running of the Summit II, Summit III and Summit IV corroborated its commitment to the new series:
- US-Ukraine Working Group Yearly Summit
- US-Ukraine Working Group Yearly Summit II
- US-Ukraine Working Group Yearly Summit III
- US-Ukraine Working Group Yearly Summit IV
The last three mentioned events also confirmed that an ‘annual situational update assessment’ on Ukraine would be necessary even after the ‘backsliding’ UA leadership had been removed by the Euromaidan’s ‘Revolution of Dignity’ and replaced by a political class committed to full internal reform plus (renewed efforts at) integration into the Euro-Atlantic Community. Given the persistence of Russia’s 2014 ‘intrusion’ into Ukraine (indicating that RU might not relent for a long time and might even attempt a “full scale invasion”), steady/regular monitoring of the ‘present’ condition of the Ukrainian state was a ‘must do’ proposition.
In 2017, CUSUR, using US-Ukraine Working Group Yearly Summit V, turned to operating the series under the new ‘mandate’. Since then the following summit gatherings have been held (either live or by Zoom during the Covid pandemic):
- US-Ukraine Working Group Yearly Summit VI (2018)
- US-Ukraine Working Group Yearly Summit VII (2019) [run as a fusion event with the US-UA BNS]
- US-Ukraine Working Group Yearly Summit VIII (2020) [Webinar format]
- US-Ukraine Working Group Yearly Summit IX (2021) [Webinar format]
- US-Ukraine Working Group Yearly Summit X (2022) [Hybrid format]
- US-Ukraine Working Group Yearly Summit XI (2023)