USUBC Washington Watch No. 6
U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC),
Washington, D.C. Tuesday, January 24, 2017
(1) Large delegation from Ukraine arrives in Washington next week ------
A large delegation from Ukraine of around 50 persons is expected to arrive in Washington early next week. The delegation will be composed of many members of Parliament (maybe as many as 30), government officials and private parties. Many of the delegation members plan to attend the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, February 2, 2017. The U.S. Congress hosts the breakfast and the Christian organization, The Fellowship Foundation, organizes the event on their behalf.
The delegation is expected to include Yulia Tymoshenko, the first woman to serve as prime minister of Ukraine. Tymoshenko is now a member of parliament and leader of the 19-member Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) Party. Delegation members are expected to have a wide variety of meetings in Washington during the week to discuss current relations between Ukraine and the U.S., policies of the Trump Administration, western sanctions against Russia and the ongoing war and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine’s East which is continuing to be supported by Russian President Putin.
(2) MP Khomutynnik discusses prospects of relations between Ukraine, US in Washington – Interfax/Ukraine -
The Head of Vidrodzhennia (Revival) group of lawmakers MP Vitaliy Khomutynnik during his visit to the United States for the inauguration met the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce (R-CA) and the House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) "U.S. politicians assured that relations between Ukraine and the United States after the election of new President Donald Trump will deepen….” Vidrodzhennia reported on its Facebook page.
One would hope that is what two long-time supporters of Ukraine would say and hope going forward. The key though, as this newsletter as reported before, is the President. Until President Trump takes actions as President it is essentially impossible to predict next steps in U.S.-Ukraine relations.
(3) Ukrainian president confident U.S. ties will continue – The Wall Street Journal --
Petro Poroshenko says he expects Trump administration will maintain support and hopes to meet with President Trump in February in Washington. As best a reader can tell Poroshenko bases his “confidence” on his November, 2016, telephone call with Trump and the fact that up to now Ukraine has had strong bipartisan support in Congress.
Perhaps the most curious thing in the article is Poroshenko’s telegraphing his desire to meet with Trump in February. Why would he say that unless the meeting has been scheduled which it hasn’t? Now, if for any reason no meeting takes place he looks bad and surely the Kremlin propaganda machine will use it to make mischief.
Maybe the real purpose of the hiring of BGR is to see if they can get Poroshenko a Trump meeting despite Kyiv’s official foreign policy apparatus’ pro-Hillary efforts during the American campaign. Whatever the case, why would you telegraph your interest in a February meeting until it has been scheduled?
(4) Poroshenko’s administration confirms U.S. lobbying firm hired for Ukraine – UNIAN Information Agency –
Sponsored by donors, no public funds used.....then who is actually paying for the contact of $50,000 a month for 12 months
Deputy head of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's administration, Secretary of the National Reforms Council Dmytro Shymkiv confirms that Ukraine has hired BGR Group for lobbying and uses funds from donors not from the budget to pay for its services. “The National Reforms Council with the assistance of the Ukrainian Foundation for Support of Reform in Ukraine has hired U.S. firm BGR Group as a consultancy to promote Ukraine’s interests in the United States, invite U.S. investment and inform U.S. government and public institutions on the achievements and results of reforms in Ukraine,” he wrote on Facebook on Wednesday.
“This initiative is sponsored by donors, no public funds are used,” Shymkiv added. In his words, to meet the needs of the National Reforms Council and the Ukrainian government, the Foundation for Support of Reform in Ukraine has been funding various reform initiatives and sponsoring reform teams for the past two years. The donors are the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Western NIS Enterprise Fund (the U.S.), the OSCE, the governments of Canada and Germany, the International Renaissance Foundation, the Embassies of the United States and the United Kingdom.
NOTE: To understand then BGR Government Relations LLC has registered as a foreign agent for the Government of Ukraine, “President Administration & National Reforms Council” but the Government of Ukraine has not hired nor is it paying for its own representation. Instead the Ukrainian Foundation for Support of Reform in Ukraine “has hired BGR” but the “foreign principal” on the registration documents is the Government of Ukraine?
And the Ukrainian Foundation for Support of Reform in Ukraine is supported – financially supported – by the EBRD, and other foreign government entities including the governments of Germany, Canada and the Embassy of the United States. So, instead of retaining professional assistance in Washington, like other nations, Ukraine depends upon an entity created and funded by other nations to retain its representation in Washington.
So many questions. Who does BGR actually report to? Who directs the activities of BGR? If the Foundation for Support of Reform in Ukraine disagree with the Government of Ukraine about something involving Washington, who has the final say? What does the Foundation for Support of Reform in Ukraine have to do with Ukraine’s relations in Washington?
Is the BGR contract actually being paid for by the Ukrainian Foundation for Support of Reform in Ukraine? How can such a Foundation supported by various governments pay for a government of Ukraine contract in Washington? If the contract is not being paid by this Foundation who actually funding the BGR contract.
Link: UNIAN: http://www.unian.info/politics/1731621-poroshenkos-administration-confirms-us-lobbying-firm-hired-for-ukraine.html
(5) McCain, Graham back Tillerson’s nomination to be Secretary of State – The Wall Street Journal –
With the announcement by McCain and Graham former Exxon Mobil Corp. chief executive Rex Tillerson cleared an important hurdle on his path to become secretary of state. That means the Republicans have all the votes they need to confirm Tillerson even though considerable reservations continue about the man. Additionally, but after the Journal’s article was published Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the last Republican to do so, decided to support Rex Tillerson’s nomination to be President Trump’s secretary of state. In a statement posted to Facebook, Rubio said that “despite my reservations” he will back the former ExxonMobil chief’s nomination.
Indeed, on Monday afternoon January 23, 2017 the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations reported out the Tillerson nomination on a straight party line vote 11-10. It will now be scheduled for a vote by the entire Senate soon.
(6) McCain and Schumer: Don't end Russian sanctions without Congress – Politico –
According to Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Minority Leader, and John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, a bipartisan group of senators is seeking to stop President Trump from lifting sanctions on Russia without Congressional approval. The two senators in separate interviews said they would soon introduce legislation to accomplish this result.
Reportedly Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), the Ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) will also be co-sponsoring the legislation. Other news reports suggest even additional senators who apparently indent to be supportive of the proposed legislation.
If the legislation is introduced and pushed enthusiastically the exercise might provide an early indication of where the Trump Administration intends to go on Russia and Ukraine policy issues and – importantly – if the Administration weighs-in heavily against the legislation it could show how that opposition might temper some of Congress’ long standing and bipartisan support for Ukraine, especially in the House of Representatives where all Members will stand for election again in two years..
(7) What Are Russia’s Real Goals in Ukraine? – The Wall Street Journal, a Letter-to-the-Editor –
Negotiating with Russia: A Scenario for Success – Atlantic Council – Stephan Blank argues that despite the flood of post-election pundits advising Donald Trump on how to approach Russia, few have offered any understanding of Moscow’s aims. Yet for Trump and the West to negotiate effectively, they must understand Russia’s goals, as well as how to use Western power to bring Moscow to the table and achieve real results. And, Putin has not hidden what it wants.
It seeks an end to sanctions, recognition of Crimea as part of Russia, demilitarization of NATO in the Baltic and Black Sea regions, termination of US missile defenses, recognition of Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria, and formal recognition of Russia’s equality with the US. This formal recognition of what Moscow calls “multipolarity” would preclude Western democracy promotion or advocacy for human rights in Russia or its sphere of influence.
Blank then offers suggestions on what the U.S. and Europe must do. And once the West has reinvigorated its moral-economic-politica