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March 15, 2006

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KIEV1021 2006-03-15 15:54 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KIEV 001021 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/15/2016 

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires, a.i., for reasons 1.4 (b,d). 

1. (C) Summary:  During March 13 meetings in Kiev, EUR DAS 
David Kramer praised the Ukrainian government's decision to 
implement a customs protocol to control the flow of goods 
across its border with Moldova/Transnistria.  Drawing on 
reftel, Kramer told PM Yuri Yekhanurov, Deputy Minister of 
Defense Leonid Polyakov, MFA 2nd Territorial Department 
Director Anatoliy Ponomarenko, and journalism students and 
media representatives at Kiev-Mohyla Academy that the customs 
protocol implementation could motivate Transnistrian 
authorities to engage meaningfully in the five-plus-two 
Transnistria settlement process.  Kramer told Ponomarenko he 
had protested Russia's unhelpful stance March 10 in a meeting 
with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Ushakov and said our 
Embassy would reinforce the message in Moscow.  Ponomarenko 
expressed concern that the Transnistrian authorities were 
preparing to wait out the Ukrainians until after the March 26 
Ukrainian parliamentary elections in the hope that the next 
Cabinet would reverse the customs protocol implementation. 
He took Kramer's point that a special five-plus-two session 
should not be convened to discuss the customs protocol, since 
such a meeting would unnecessarily elevate a bilateral matter 
and five-plus-two delegates were not the experts needed to 
consider the relevant technical issues.  Separately, 
opposition Party of Regions foreign policy adviser Leonid 
Kozhara argued that export permits and stamps were not a 
usual trade practice and Ukraine should not need to enforce 
an extraordinary Moldovan requirement; Kramer said the 
measure was necessary to control contraband.  Embassy 
released a statement on Kramer's visit expressing U.S. 
support for implementation of the customs protocol.  End 

Prime Minister's Views 

2. (C) DAS Kramer raised with PM Yekhanurov the Ukrainian 
government's recent actions on the border with Transnistria. 
Kramer underscored USG appreciation for the customs agreement 
between Ukraine and Moldova, noting we understood this was 
not an easy decision in the face of Russian criticism.  He 
pointed to the USG's public statements supporting the 
Ukrainian decision and added the USG was working with the EU 
to push back against Russian criticism of the border regime 
and to stand together with Ukraine.  Yekhanurov thanked 
Kramer for USG support.  He explained the MFA was monitoring 
the situation on the border closely, but Ukrainian officials 
were convinced they had reached the proper conclusion in 
implementing the new border regime. 

MFA: A Battle on Three Fronts 

3. (C) MFA department chief Ponomarenko told Kramer the 
Ukrainian government had to resolve three problems.  First, 
the Transnistrian blockade of trade into and out of the 
region had to be resolved.  Second, the Ukrainian government 
had to "win the information war" and convince the Ukrainian 
public of the rightness of its position toward Transnistria. 
Ponomarenko commented that the Ukrainian government was 
losing badly in the face of critical Russian statements and 
television footage showing lines of trucks parked at the 
border.  Finally, the Ukrainian government faced a 
longer-term task of preserving the "Yushchenko plan" on 
Transnistria and the five-plus-two negotiation process. 
Transnistrian strongman Smirnov had declared that, with 
implementation of the customs protocol, Ukraine had sided 
with Moldova and lost its status as a guarantor of the 
Transnistrian settlement process.  Ponomarenko also was 
concerned that the Transnistrian authorities might undertake 
some additional damaging action just before or during the 
March 26 Ukrainian parliamentary elections to weaken support 
for pro-government parties. 

The Russia Factor 

4. (C) Ponomarenko said Ukraine welcomed the wide support it 
enjoyed from the U.S., the European Union, the OSCE, and 
various European countries for the implementation of the 
customs protocol.  Only one state, Russia, had sided with 
Transnistria.  Ponomarenko asked for U.S. support in dealing 
with Russia on Transnistria, a request which, he noted, 
Foreign Minister Tarasyuk had also raised during his meeting 
with the U.S. National Security Adviser.  Romania/Moldova 
Department director Cornelia Luskalova, heading a GOU working 
group in Odesa, had recently reported to him that the 
Transnistrians had stopped considering Ukrainian proposals to 
resolve the border situation.  At the moment, ten cargo 
trucks were backed up at one border-crossing checkpoint.  The 
Ukrainian working group had offered to allow passage of the 
trucks without customs inspections simply in order to permit 
the renewed, free passage of traffic across the border.  The 
Transnistrian rejection of this concessionary proposal led 
Ponomarenko to fear that the Transnistrian authorities were 
prepared to wait out the Ukrainian government until after the 
March 26 parliamentary elections.  In this way, Ponomarenko 
surmised that the Transnistrians were hoping to get a 
reversal of the Ukrainian position after a new prime minister 
d cabinet were selected. 

5. (C) Saying that he had not read the actual text, 
Ponomarenko continued that he understood the Russian Duma had 
recently passed a resolution on the Transnistria situation 
describing it as a human tragedy and an economic blockade. 
Ponomarenko said the language recalled earlier Duma 
resolutions on Kosovo.  MFA was trying to persuade the 
Ukrainian parliament (Rada) to counter with its own 
resolution, but this would be tricky, since various Rada 
factions might be able to seize on the issue to politicize it. 

6. (C) Kramer said, during his participation in numerous 
five-plus-two rounds, the meetings continued to consider the 
same agenda items with no visible progress.  The Ukrainian 
government action was important because it disturbed the 
status quo.  He agreed with Ponomarenko that the 
Transnistrians had provoked the current difficulty by 
imposing an economic blockade on themselves.  The USG had 
issued a statement of support for the Ukrainian action and 
instructions had recently gone out to U.S. embassies, 
including in Moscow, to counter Russian disinformation. 
Kramer said he hoped Transnistrian business enterprises, a 
number of which had already registered with the Moldovan 
government, would pressure the Transnistrian authorities to 
lift the blockade.  He assured Ponomarenko that the USG would 
continue its firm support for the Ukrainian action, which was 
an important development of the Yushchenko plan for 
resolution of the Transnistria issue.  He said the U.S. 
Embassy would issue a statement (subsequently released) 
reporting on his visit and reiterating USG support for 
Ukraine's implementation of the customs protocol. 

EU Support; Special Five-Plus-Two Session 

7. (C) Ponomarenko said that, while welcoming the supportive 
statement of EU High Representative for Security and Defense 
Policy Javier Solana, an EU Presidency statement would be a 
critical sign of interest in Transnistria.  He also 
understood that 60 percent of Transnistrian exports were 
destined for EU countries.  The EU could take an important 
step by paralleling Ukrainian action and also requiring that 
exports from Transnistria bear Moldovan customs seals. 

8. (C) Kramer said he had recently spoken with EU Special 
Representative for Transnistria Adriaan Jacobovitz de Szeged 
and would speak to him again in the near future.  He would 
raise Ponomarenko's suggestions with Jacobovitz.  In their 
conversation, Kramer said he and Jacobovitz had agreed to 
resist a Russian call to hold a special five-plus-two session 
to consider the customs protocol and its impact on 
Transnistria.  They felt that, first, the customs protocol 
was a bilateral issue between Ukraine and Moldova and a 
special five-plus-two session would exaggerate its 
significance.  Second, the appropriate customs and border 
security experts should consider the specifics of the 
protocol's implementation, and not the five-plus-two 
delegates.  Ponomarenko agreed the customs protocol should 
not be "internationalized" by bringing it into a 
five-plus-two meeting. 

Party of Regions; Kiev-Mohyla 

9. (C) During Charge's March 13 dinner for Kramer, Party of 
Regions foreign policy adviser Leonid Kozhara said he did not 
believe Ukraine's implementation of the customs protocol 
would have any positive results.  The next Transnistrian 
leadership election would see Smirnov cementing his hold on 
power with a high level of support for his rule.  Thus, the 
long-term goal of promoting free and fair elections in 
Transnistria would be fruitless.  Kozhara added that, 
according to accepted international trade practice, companies 
did not need special registration or permits to export their 
goods.  In the U.S., for example, companies freely exported 
their products.  In agreeing to the customs protocol with 
Moldova, Ukraine was simply acceding to Moldovan demands.  He 
hypothesized that the Ukrainian government had agreed to do 
so in exchange for a Moldovan government refusal to allow the 
establishment of overseas polling stations in Transnistria 
(where the population voted overwhelmingly in the 2004 
presidential race for then-Prime Minister and Party of 
Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych).  Kramer said Transnistria 
required specific measures to control what was widely 
recognized to be high levels of smuggling and trade in 
contraband.  Former Foreign Minister Kostyantin Hryshenko, a 
member of the Ne Tak bloc and Republican Party, said, in his 
view, the customs protocol implemenation was the right step. 
Unfortunately, the issue had become politicized in 
campaigning for the parliamentary elections.  There might 
have been no or little controversy if the step had been taken 
after the elections or, as Kramer observed, in January when 
originally scheduled. 

10. (U) In a March 13 session with journalism graduate 
students and media represenatives at Kiev-Mohyla Academy, 
Kramer expressed USG support for Ukrainian leadership in 
reinforcing Moldovan sovereignty and territorial integrity. 

11. (U) Visit Embassy Kiev's classified website: 





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