(1)  U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC) members met in Washington with leaders of the National Investment Council of Ukraine ---

Borys Lozhkin, Secretary of the National Investment Council of Ukraine, Yulia Kovaliv, Head of Office, National Investment Council of Ukraine and Valeriy Chaly, Ambassador of Ukraine to the USA met in Washington last week with members and guests of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC), www.USUBC.org.  The working luncheon was held in cooperation with the Embassy of Ukraine in the  USA.  Over 50 persons attended.  Mr. Lozhkin outlined the major work of the National Investment Council of Ukraine to significantly increase the flow of international investment funds to Ukraine.   

Yulia Kovaliv stated the main two purposes of the Council were (1) to work with the present large international investors in Ukraine to assist them in resolving problems and in building a more business friendly business environment and (2) to meet with potential new international investors and assist in facilitating their entry into Ukraine.  While in Washington Borys Lozhkin and Yulia Kovaliv held  individual meetings with several large U.S. corporations who have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Ukraine over the past several years. 

The companies/organizations attending the USUBC working luncheon included: AbbVie, Amsted Rail, AnaCom, Atlantic Council, Baker McKenzie, Blue Star Strategies, Bunge, Cargill, Center for International Private Enterprise, Cub Energy, Dentons, DuPont, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD, EPAM USA, German Marshall Fund, The Greenbrier Companies, Leadville Resources, Mastercard, McLarty Associates, NCSEJ, Office of the United States Trade Representative, SigmaBleyzer, Philip Morris International, Summit Strategies, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. State Department, U.S.-Ukraine Business Council, U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, and Voice of America (VOA)

(2) BITTER HARVEST - One of the more important current events in the USA relating to Ukraine is the opening of the full-length feature film 'BITTER HARVEST'

The film premiered in the United States on February 24 and will open across Canada on March 3.  As was pointed out during the Atlantic Council’s Connecting Ukraine’s Past and Present: From Holodomor to the War in the Donbas discussion last week, the historical film’s story of Stalin’s intentional genocide against the people of Ukraine helps put current events in a very meaningful context.  During the Holodomor death by malevolent starvation was a Soviet policy that murdered millions upon millions.  But it was hidden by the Kremlin and its co-conspirators. 

Commentary: Major international media knew the truth but lied, accepting Soviet propaganda.  Indeed the reprehensible Walter Duranty of The New York Times won a Pulitzer Prize for dissembling the facts of the famine. National leaders across the globe ignored presented facts primarily because they wanted good relations with the Soviet Union.  President Roosevelt's administration ignored what he knew because he wanted to recognize the Soviet Union diplomatically. Ukraine and the people of Ukraine were demonically sacrificed in the interest of “better” relations with the Kremlin.  Does that sound familiar?

Russia, led by President Putin is conducting a multi-phased war against Ukraine, seizing territory, killing thousands, undermining civic institutions and blatantly lying and disseminating odious propaganda that is only half-heartedly countered by the West because many in the West wants to have “friendly” relations with Russia.  Bitter Harvest will genuinely help those who know about the Holodomor (death by hunger, get a feel for the terror and helplessness of the victims. For those who do not know about the Holodomor, the movie will educate and should establish a believable context to the Kremlin’s go-going effort to repress the people of Ukraine, destabilize the country and to the reality of Putin’s murderous international aggression. 

More Commentary: The link below is to George Weigle’s review of Bitter Harvest in National Review entitled "Bitter Harvest and the Bitter Present in Ukraine." It is important to know and remember the Kremlin’s savagery of the past for many reasons critically including that Putin’s 21st century war on Ukraine is the result of one man’s deliberate policy, just as was Stalin’s terror of the 1930s.  Check your media for local listings.

Link: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/445171/ukraine-bitter-harvest-film-russia-stalin-holodomor-putin-inasion-21st-century-aggression

Additional commentary: There was a pathetically uninformed review of Bitter Harvest in The Washington Post by Michael O’Sullivan, ‘Bitter Harvest’: Ukrainian famine is rendered as heavy-handed melodrama. O’Sullivan’s grievance against Bitter Harvest seems to be that it is too absolute about the cause of the famine, too condemning of Comrade Stalin.

For instance, “Whether the Holodomor resulted from a policy of systemic genocide, as is the official position of Ukraine and many other governments, or was a terrible situation that nevertheless fails to meet the definition of deliberate mass murder, as others have characterized it, is a matter for U.N. diplomats and historians to argue about.” Among other things O’Sullivan apparently is unaware that the United Nations determined that the famine was a genocide during which over 5 million innocent human beings starved to death and O'Sullivan's movie review suffers from ignorance of the truth.

LINK:  Washington Post, movie review by Michael O'Sullivan - "'Bitter Harvest' - Ukrainian Famine is Rendered as Heavy-Handed Melodrama." 



(3) United States Department of State Condemns Attack on Special Monitoring Missions in Eastern Ukraine --

Press Statement, Mark C. Toner, Acting U.S. State Department Spokesperson – “The United States is closely monitoring the growing violence in eastern Ukraine in recent weeks and the continuing failure of the combined-Russian separatist forces to honor the cease-fire called for under the Minsk agreements.‎ ‎We condemn Friday’s targeting of OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) monitors and the seizure of a SMM unmanned aerial vehicle by combined-Russian separatist forces. It is imperative that these forces halt their attacks on civilian infrastructure, including the Donetsk water filtration station. We call on Russia and the separatist forces it backs to immediately observe the cease-fire, withdraw all heavy weapons, and allow full and unfettered access to the OSCE monitors.”

Commentary: The Good – recognizing and condemning the Russian aggression.  The Bad – thinking reference to the Minsk agreement (or even if State had cited the Budapest Memorandum) would mean anything to Putin. The Ugly – leaving the American response at the verbal condemnation level.  How many times, in how many ways will the U.S. condemn the war Putin is conducting against Ukraine and hope Putin's aggression against Ukraine, Europe and the USA will stop.  Congress has authorized the giving of defensive weapons to Ukraine.  When will this ever happen?

(4) Ukraine’s Ex-President Viktor Yanukovych Pushes Peace Proposal – The Wall Street Journal --

Ukraine’s former president, living in self-imposed exile in Russia, has sent President Donald Trump a peace plan on ending the conflict in Ukraine, in the newest freelance effort by a Ukrainian politician to reach out to the White House.  But separate efforts by Mr. Yanukovych and a Ukrainian lawmaker who wanted Mr. Trump’s lawyer to deliver a peace plan to the White House are underscoring the discord in Ukraine and uncertainty in international capitals over how to end the conflict, which has cost some 10,000 lives.

Commentary:  At the very lease these twilight zone proposals are designed to create a narrative of division and discourse in Ukraine. This is a movement the Kremlin propaganda machine can use in a weary and un-nuanced West as a basis to advance its own malignant interests.  That Yanukovych and Andriy Artemenko, the Ukrainian legislator advancing (or trying to advance) the earlier “peace” proposal essentially come from Ukraine’s pro-Russia Region’s Party make its own case as to credibility.

LinkWall Street Journal (subscription required)


(5) Everyone Seems To Have A Peace Plan For Ukraine – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty –

This article is a pretty comprehensive discussion of the various “peace plans” - - Each new plan -- made by a mix of known politicians and shadowy operatives -- has sparked fierce debate in Kyiv political circles and among the Ukrainian public.  And the suspected motivations behind the peace offerings run the gamut, from personal ambition to a Kremlin plot to destroy Ukraine.

Commentary: Given the tsunami of so-called “peace” proposals this is a very useful article both because it identifies the various proposals and most of the people who have decided to insert themselves into what would otherwise be a government-to-government or governments-to-governments discussion.  It also summarizes the more important points of the various proposals.
Link:  Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

(6) The Road to Power in Ukraine Runs Through Donald Trump Foreign Policy – Comprehensive Review of Recent Actions..Good Article To Take Time to Read
When Kyiv can’t reliably get hold of the White House, even Miss Universe contestants will start conducting diplomacy.

Since the November election Ukrainian officials have descended on Washington, but the pace has picked up noticeably since Congress returned to session in January. There has long been a significant and really unjustified parade of Ukrainian officials convincing themselves they need to appear in Washington. But there appear to be several reasons for the new, greater influx.

One is the outsized role or perceived outsized role played by the United States in Ukrainian domestic politics and another is the lack of clarity about the Trump administration’s policy toward Ukraine. One congressional staffer told Foreign Policy that not a day goes by where he doesn’t see Ukrainian lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Commentary:  There is no question Ukraine needs a solid relationship with the United States Government (and that the U.S. needs a good relationship with Ukraine). But over-and-over you hear Washington officials wondering why so many Ukrainians are in Washington so often and suggesting they would think Ukraine has enough things to deal with that most of these Ukrainians should be in Ukraine trying to solve its problems.

This is true moreover because so many of these traveling Ukrainians have conflicting recommendations, viewpoints and often clearly personal rather than national interests at heart. In addition strategic and informed observers often have to roll their eyes upon learning who Ukrainians think are the most important people and institutions to meet with and to depend upon.

Commentary: take time to read....LINKhttps://foreignpolicy.com/2017/02/24/the-road-to-power-in-ukraine-runs-through-donald-trump/

(7) Interview: U.S. Lawmakers Call For Lethal Weapons For Ukraine – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty --

Two U.S. lawmakers say the time has come for the United States to supply Ukraine with lethal weapons to better defend itself against Moscow-backed separatists, saying that a "confrontational" Russian President Vladimir Putin shows no sign of easing the pressure on Kyiv.

Commentary:  The two lawmakers are Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill) and Congressman Mike Quigley (D-Ill) who were visiting Ukraine last week and had strong statements in support of Ukraine.  Senator Durbin is the Assistant Minority Leader in the Senate and a member of the Senate Ukraine Caucus. Congressman Quigley likewise is a member of the House Congressional Ukrainian Caucus.  In the interview they expressed sentiments Congress has supported in the past since Putin invaded Crimea and Eastern Ukraine.  However, the sense is that with Putin’s on-going aggression and broader mischief many in Congress are growing more committed to the idea more needs to be done.  Link: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

LINK: "What I Saw in Ukraine" by Rep. Mike Quigley. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/02/kyiv-ukraine-democracy-russia-fear-trump-214816

(8) Vladimir Putin’s ‘puppet strings’ on Trump are an illusion – The Hill -- 

Trump’s actions are not the policy positions of a Russian puppet; they suggest that Putin is only posturing, hovering around Trump, pretending to be in control. Instead, it’s quite the reverse: Trump's actions are undermining Putin abroad and at home, where he has ordered media coverage of Trump to cease. Look at the results, and not the noise: Trump is forcing NATO to its greatest defense spending in decades and is demanding the return of Crimea. The bubble has burst in Russia, and Putin already is on the defensive.

Commentary: As has been written in Washington Watch before, until Trump acts it may be impossible to know exactly what his policy toward Russia and Ukraine might be.  But there is no doubt he and his Administration are doing any number of things that have to be unsettling to the Kremlin.  Link:   The Hill

(9) US Secretary of State says Russia must honor Ukraine deal – The Washington Post --

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made his debut on the world stage Thursday, meeting the Russian foreign minister and urging Moscow to pull back in eastern Ukraine

Commentary: First the good.  It is welcome news that Tillerson expects the Russians to act in accordance with their word and is publicly calling on them to do so.  As for the not so good news: (1) the Minsk accords are at the very best a pathetic collapse from the Budapest Memorandum as far as the obligations of both Russia and the United States and overwhelming evidence that Putin honoring Russian commitments means nothing more than “clouds in your coffee.” 

(2) Also the Post article reported “Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, and Russian-speaking separatists in Ukraine’s began protests that escalated into a war, with thousands killed. A deal two years ago known as the Minsk agreement was intended to end the conflict, but skirmishes have continued.” 

It is really disgusting that a major publication still sticks to the “separatist” narrative instead of underscoring the reality of the Russia presence and participation.  Likewise to include the meaningless “Russian-speaking” is also a sloppy by-in top Putin’s narrative.  Has the Post ever reported that everyone in Ukraine speaks Russian and that Ukrainian was outlawed during the years of the Soviet Union? 

And finally, the article includes this gem, “Asked whether the chaos in Washington was a concern to Russia, Lavrov replied: ‘You should know we do not interfere in the domestic matters of other countries.’” This guy Lavrov is the master of the straight face.  He pitches this rubbish with the appearance of genuine conviction which is his job as a Putin puppet.  But it is repulsive that the Post accepts it without denunciation. Russian propaganda wins again.

Link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/us-secretary-of-state-tillerson-meets-with-russias-lavrov/2017/02/16/1756270c-f44b-11e6-9fb1-2d8f3fc9c0ed_story.html

(10) Russia’s Foreign Ministry, a Major Producer of Fake News, Launches Website to Unmask It in Others --  Window on Eurasia/Paul Goble --

The Russian foreign ministry in yet another Orwellian twist has put up a web page devoted to unmasking fake news but only what it finds to be fake news released by others and not what many see as the flood of fake news it produces itself

Commentary: Maybe this is an attempt to improve the Russian economy.  Two Ministries have essentially contemporaneous announcements about their new and improved propaganda operations.  Maybe with the disturbing success of Russian propaganda machines disseminating the rubbish there is a growth industry in Moscow.

Link: windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2017/02/a-bakers-dozen-of-neglected-russian_24.html

(11) UK House of Commons passes Magnitsky sanctions bill -- The FCPA Blog --

The UK House of Commons last week passed legislation that would expand the powers of the government and courts to freeze assets of human rights violators.

Commentary: William Browder who heads the global Magnitsky Justice Campaign owder told the OCCRP: "The new Magnitsky Sanctions Legislation is going to cause perceptible fear for kleptocrats in Russia and other authoritarian regimes. They all have expensive properties in London and think they are untouchable." The legislation still must pass the House of Lords to become law

Link: Click here to read the full story

(12) Boris Nemtsov - Second Anniversary of his Assassination – remembrance in Washington, D.C.

On Sunday, February 26, 2017 there were demonstrations and other events across the globe remembering Nemtsov, the Russian patriot who opposed Putin and who opposed Putin’s war on Ukraine.

Commentary:  In Washington, on a small plaza across from the entrance to the Russian Embassy. the remembrance of Boris Nemtsov included signs, Russian and Ukrainian flags and speeches.   The Master of Ceremonies of the program of speeches and statements was Dmitry Valuev, Magnitsky Act Initiative. 

The speeches were given by Tanya Nyberg, Executive Director, Magnitsky Act Initiative; Natalia Arno, President of the Free Russia Foundation; Bethany Poulos, Foreign Policy Legislative Assistant reading a statement from Senator Marco Rubio; a statement from Senator Ben Cardin; Nadia K. McConnell, President, U.S.-Ukraine Foundation; Viachaslau Bortnik, Vice President, The Belarusian-American Association; a statement from The Joint Baltic American National Committee; Oksana Osipova, Vice President, United Help Ukraine; and Boyd Walker, American civil activist.


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