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USUBC Washington Watch No. 1
U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC), Washington, D.C.
Week of November 28, 2016 to December 2, 2016
Ukraine's Reaction to Donald Trump's Election, Warsaw, Poland, Bulletin PISM no 80 (930) 29 November 2016.pdf
(1) Poroshenko and the Inauguration of next United States President – There appear to have been a number of media and social media networks commenting on Poroshenko not being invited to Donald Trump’s inauguration. The fact is no heads-of-state are invited to any American inauguration. Countries are represented at these inaugurations by their Ambassadors to the United States.
(2) Trump Transition – As of this writing the President-elect is still in the process of choosing people to serve in his Cabinet and other critical positions throughout the Executive Branch. However, whoever Trump ends up selecting to nominate for Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense it also will be important to watch those he has chosen to be his National Security Advisor and Deputy National Security Advisor - - Lt. General Michael T. Flynn and K.T. McFarland respectively. Both have expressed clearly that they see Putin’s Russia as a threat to the interests of the United States.
Although I believe America and Russia could find mutual ground fighting Radical Islamists, there is no reason to believe Putin would welcome cooperation with us; quite the contrary in fact. In mid-January 2016, the Kremlin announced its intention to create new military bases on their western border, and to step up the readiness of their nuclear forces. These are not the actions of a country seeking détente with the West. They are, rather, indications that Putin fully intends to do the same thing as, and in tandem with, the Iranians: pursue the war against us.
- Lt. General Michael T. Flynn, The Field of Fight
Nevertheless, regardless of the above quote neither Flynn’s or McFarland’s specific views on Ukraine and how to deal with Putin’s illegal annexation of Crimea and intrusions into Donbass and his other mischief-making in Ukraine are at all clear. Unfortunately some of their statements have seemed to suggest they may want only to focus on the United States’ current and challenging NATO obligations. This area of concern will need to be watched carefully and Ukraine and its friends should be aggressive in making the case for Ukraine.
(3) 115th U.S. Congress – After any election there are leadership changes in the next Congress and many of those to be made in the Congress to be sworn in this January are not known as yet. However, it is worth noting here that it appears the new chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations will be Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-New Jersey). Congressman Frelinghuysen has a strong history of support for and interest in Ukraine.
In this context it is also important to keep in mind that within the United States Government the greatest support for Ukraine has always been found in the Congress. One should continue to expect broad bipartisan congressional support for Ukraine. But nothing should be taken for granted.
Promoting one’s interests in Washington is a full time effort. There can be no down time. This is especially true when, in Ukraine’s case, Russian interests constantly and very professionally push two primary points in Washington – what Russia wants and to undermine Ukraine.
(4) Ukraine’s Political “Frenemies” Seek To Avoid 2005-Style Split – On November 29 The Wall Street Journal published this article about former Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s travels urging leaders in the West to continue their support of Ukraine and Yatsenyuk’s “frenemies” relationship with President Poroshenko. (The article can be accessed through the link below.) There should be concern though about the advocacy for Ukraine’s national interests including public reminders of Ukraine’s internal political tensions.
There is no question that Ukraine needs to be active and aggressive in advancing its interests especially when there are troubling signs in what has been a united western support for Ukraine against Russian aggression. No one knows quite what to expect from the Trump Administration based upon Trump’s own comments during the campaign, and the reported conversations his transition team is already having with Russia regarding Syria.Likewise there are concerns within the EU. Hungary is essentially Putin’s advocate and others, like one of France’s leading candidates thinks Russia should be treated as a “great nation” and not made a “pariah over its annexation of Crimea.”
(5) Ukraine Has Made Great Progress, But We Need Our Allis – The New York Times on November 28 published this op-ed by Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin. (The article can be accessed through the link below.) In the piece Klimkin makes the case that Ukraine, despite great obstacles, including the Russia sponsored war, is making great progress; that while this progress is being accomplished by the people of Ukraine they have been aided greatly by support from the EU and especially the United States.
Klimkin then cites some of President-elect Trump’s campaign statements about wanting to have better relations with Russia, He then makes a case that better relations between the U.S. and Russia would be a good thing for everyone, but not at the expense of Ukraine.
Klimkin’s op-ed and Yatsenyuk’s travels reported above are both good and important. But as briefly referenced under 115th Congress above making and winning arguments for Ukraine’s interests will require not only a 24-7 commitment, but genuine strategic planning and professional execution of that plan.
Ukraine, because of major changes in the U.S. and the EU needs a new, expanded plan for Washington and the EU and while the United States has supported independent Ukraine that support has never been what it could have been if Ukraine approached its bilateral relationship with the focus and commitment known to be required by mature nations.
(6) Talks on Ukraine Produce No Visible Results – On November 29th The New York Times published this story which, of course, included no surprises.
(7) Memo to Trump - NATO is not “obsolete; Putin’s strategy is clear: Restore Russian dominance by breaking the unity of the West. – November 30th The Wall Street Journal published this opinion discussing concerns about the future of NATO.
(8) Nash Krai in Washington – Nash Krai, is a relatively new political party that had significant success in the last local elections especially in Eastern and Southern Ukraine. A delegation from Nash Krai which included Rada Deputies Sergii Shakhov and Oleg Nedava as well as Co-Head of the Party Yuriy Hranaturov visited Washington for two days meeting with some congressional offices, State Department officials and several Ukraine-related NGOs. Their objective was to introduce their political party and its agenda.
(9) U.S Legislation –
H.R. 5732, “To halt the wholesale slaughter of the Syrian people, encourage a negotiated political settlement, and hold Syrian human rights abusers accountable for their crimes” passed the House of Representatives a few weeks ago and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
While it does not appear there will be any further action on this legislation in the current Congress, it might be worth noting that provisions which could impact Russia provide essentially that anyone providing assistance to the Government of Syria will be subject to sanctions.
S. 2692 – The Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, introduced by Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Chris Murphy (D- Connecticut) has been added to the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act Conference Report. As a practical matter this means the language of S. 2692 and its companion bill in the House of Representatives (H.R. 5181) will be included in the larger Defense Authorization Bill which will be passed by Congress and sent to the President for signature. The Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act is designed to help American allies counter foreign government propaganda from Russia, China, and other nations. Its effort is organized two main priorities:
· The first priority is developing a whole-of-government strategy for countering foreign propaganda and disinformation. The bill would increase the authority, resources, and mandate of the Global Engagement Center to include state actors like Russia and China in addition to violent extremists. The Center will be led by the State Department, but with the active senior level participation of the Department of Defense, USAID, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the Intelligence Community, and other relevant agencies. The Center will develop, integrate, and synchronize whole-of-government initiatives to expose and counter foreign disinformation operations and proactively advance fact-based narratives that support U.S. allies and interests.
· Second, the legislation seeks to leverage expertise from outside government to create more adaptive and responsive U.S. strategy options. The legislation establishes a fund to help train local journalists and provide grants and contracts to NGOs, civil society organizations, think tanks, private sector companies, media organizations, and other experts outside the U.S. government with experience in identifying and analyzing the latest trends in foreign government disinformation techniques. This fund will complement and support the Center’s role by integrating capabilities and expertise available outside the U.S. government into the strategy-making process. It will also empower a decentralized network of private sector experts and integrating their expertise into the strategy-making process.
10. Ukraine's Reaction to Donald Trump's Election, by Piotr Koscinski and Daniel Szeligowski, The Polish Institute of International Affairs, Warsaw, Poland, No. 80 (930), Nov 29, 2016. (SEE ATTACHMENT IN PDF: Ukraine's Reaction to Donald Trump's Election, Warsaw, Poland, Bulletin PISM no 80 (930) 29 November 2016.pdf)
11. Here's Why Ukraine Failed to Get more IMF Funding, Anders Aslund, Atlantic Council, Washington, D.C.
12. Should We Fear Russia? Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Event – Washington, D.C. - This session was led by Dmitri Trenin based upon his book Should We Fear Russia? Trenin argues for handling Russia with “pragmatism” but nothing really explains how to protect United States interests in Ukraine through this “pragmatism.”
13. Congressman Mike Turner on the State of NATO and U.S. Foreign Relations - Hudson Institute Event, Washington, D.C.
Congressman Turner (R-Ohio) is the Chairman of the House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, a member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence and President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the inter-parliamentary organization of legislators from the countries of the North Atlantic Alliance.
Congressman Turner reported on the just completed meeting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. His principal points had to do with (a) deterrence; (b) contributions; and (c) expansion.
a) Deterrence - He made the point that to a significant extent NATO has been drifting, unfocused on its mission. With Russia’s increased aggression NATO again realizes it has an enemy and it has to be prepared to deter any aggression directed at any of its member states.
b) Contributions – He reported that it seems NATO’s European members have accepted the reality that they must increase their own defense spending and cannot and should not continue to depend simply on the United States footing the bills. Congress should send to the President’s desk shortly legislation providing $3.4 billion (the European Reassurance Bill) to increase the American military presence in the NATO countries. The United States has made it clear to the other NATO members that it expects an “American Reassurance Measure” from Europe providing reassurance to it that the Europeans are prepared to contribute to their own defense.
c) Expansion – Congressman Turner indicated that NATO is prepared to move away from its requirement for countries to “check required boxes” in order to be considered seriously for membership. Instead, NATO will be returning to its earlier approach. That approach being that when a country expresses a genuine interest in joining NATO that NATO will become a partner with that country and assist it in developing to the point it will be able to transition into membership. Transition efforts can include “rule of law,” economic matters, infrastructure matters and military.
Finally Turner reported that the message to NATO and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly sent by the incoming Trump Administration was that the new Administration would be absolutely committed to its Section 5 responsibilities.
14. 25 Years of Independence: The Ukrainian Referendum – Wilson Center, Washington, D.C.
This event celebrated and highlighted Ukraine’s actual day of independence by noting, among other things, that Ukraine was the only republic of the former Soviet Union to condition its Declaration of Independence on a public referendum. And on December 1, 1991, the people of Ukraine declared their independence from the U.S.S.R.
15. Week of December 5th in Washington
Valentyn Nalyvaichenko - Nalyvaichenko, leader of the Justice Civil-Political Movement, will be in Washington to discuss their efforts.
Ambassador John Herbst (ret) will speak at a meeting of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC) -Thursday, December 8
Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Ivanna Klympush-Tsyntsadze will be in Washington
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