US-Ukraine “Working Group” Initiative
CUSUR & US-UA “Working Group” Efforts (2023)
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.
As a start, the “areas of interest” were identified. Once identified, ‘analytic networks’ were created in each identified sector:
- Economic Affairs: [US-UA] Trade, Investment, Technical Assistance, Energy Issues
- Security Affairs: [US-UA] Training-Defense/Intel, Coordination-Defense/Intel, Joint Operations-Defense/Intel, Organized Crime Issues
- Humanitarian Affairs: [US-UA] Cultural Exchanges, Academic Exchanges, NGO Development, Media Development
- Diplomatic Affairs: [US-UA] GUAM/Policy Cooperation, Visegrad/Policy Cooperation, European Union/ Policy Cooperation, NATO/ Policy Cooperation
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 USUA WG initiative eventually spawned an interest in creating an informational presence capable of highlighting ‘CUSUR event 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. For each anticipated issue, each sector would elicit any number of articles from known US-UA government, NGO or academic specialists in their designated field and select one such article to be printed in the given number [four articles to an issue]; likewise, for each issue, each sector would ask the various named specialists to write reviews of recently published works in the field and select one such review to be printed in the given number [four reviews to an issue]. [More about the subject appears in the next section.]
At the same time, 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 four categories of interest named in the US-Ukraine Strategic Partnership Charter (and incidentally reflected in CUSUR”s ”analytic sectors”): politics/diplomacy, economics, security and historical/culturological issues; the effort’s ultimate objective was to find or suggest ways to strengthen ties between the two countries in the near and far future.
The event planned to involve the participation of all 20 of the ”experts” from the US side associated with the US-UA Working Group as well as their 20 counterparts from the Ukrainian side. It would also include 20 selected guest ‘specialists’ from the CUSUR run Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic Future Forum Series (hence, in reality, ‘UA experts’ from EU and Canada). Finally, it would include 20 leading CUSUR patrons (Meczenats) as well as 20 leading ‘Hromada’ activists as ”invited observers” (the anticipated invited collective received the nickname: “Mazepa Group”).
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 headed by Viktor Yanukovych 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 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, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 (despite the COVID pandemic), 2021 (again, despite the COVID and 2022, CUSUR’s running of Summit II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII (in ZOOM webinar format), IX (again, in ZOOM webinar format and X (back to ‘live format’) corroborated its commitment to the new series.
The said 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 Euro Maidan’s ‘Revolution of Dignity’ and replaced by a political class committed to internal reform plus (renewed efforts at) integration into the Euro-Atlantic Community. Given the emerging persistence of Russia’s ‘stealth intrusion’ into Ukraine (indicating that RU might not relent for a long time) in 2014, a regular monitoring of the condition of the Ukrainian state was a ‘must do’
proposition. Ukraine’s new political forces confirmed the premise by having Prime Minister Groysman and Rada Speaker Parubiy present at the 2016 gathering, with Acting Minister of Health Suprun in 2017, Rada Budgetary Committee Sub-Chair Oleh Medunytsya and Rada Committee Sub-Chair Oleksiy Skrypnyk in 2018, Rada Foreign Affairs Chair Hanna Hopko as well as Rada National Security Committee Sub Chair Andrij Levus in 2019, Fmr. Vice Prime of Euro-Integration Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze in 2020, Rada Speaker Dmytro Razumkov in 2021 and (with the coming of Russia real’s intrusion) Deputy Minister Volodymyr Havrylov in 2022, all doing highly praised followups.
Starting in 2021, CUSUR began to press the issue of providing an ‘official report card’ as well as preparing edited/annotated transcripts of the proceedings (plus U-Tube video recordings of self same) and distributing the combined material to the various US governmental and non- governmental agencies and institutions that have an interest in Ukraine. Given the various new winds in Washington (a large scale post 2020 election change in personnel on Ukraine-watch) and Russia’s growing efforts (in 2021) to ‘reverse’ the reverse effectuated by the ‘Revolution of Dignity, such efforts seemed essential. Russia’s full scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 took the efforts to the level of “an imperative”. CUSUR is presently in the process of hiring an intern whose sole purpose will be to handle the needed operations. Plans are also afoot to eventually translate the material to be distributed in Ukraine.