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06KIEV3425, UKRAINE: ORANGE VS BLUE CASE STUDY: THE STRUGGLE

September 6, 2006

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KIEV3425 2006-09-06 12:49 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv
VZCZCXRO2443
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #3425/01 2491249
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 061249Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY KIEV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1294
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KIEV 003425 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

OSD/ISA FOR JESSICA KEHL 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/05/2016 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PARM UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: ORANGE VS BLUE CASE STUDY: THE STRUGGLE 
OVER MILITARY EDUCATION REFORM 

REF: A. KIEV 2962 

     B. KIEV 3130 

Classified By: Polcouns Kent Logsdon, reason 1.4 (b,d) 

1. (C) Summary.  The political struggle between Orange and 
Blue to define policy and make decisions in a government of 
uneasy cohabitation will unfold in the coming weeks and 
months on an issue by issue basis, particularly in areas and 
ministries currently controlled by "Orange" Ministers loyal 
to President Yushchenko rather than PM Yanukovych.  A recent 
behind-the-scenes dispute over military education 
establishments, particularly the fate of Ukrainian land 
forces institutes in Lviv and Odesa, serves as a case study 
for this unfolding reality of governance amidst conflict, as 
well as continued progress on security sector reform and 
unspoken issues of national identity formation. 

2. (C) The "Orange" Defense Ministry wanted to close the 
Odesa Land Forces Institute and train all army cadets 
henceforth in Lviv, a decision backed by the Tymoshenko Bloc 
(BYuT) and Our Ukraine (OU); Party of Regions, the 
Socialists, and the Communists, along with various 
bureaucratic allies, backed Odesa.  The start of the academic 
year September 1 brought matters to a head in the normally 
quiet August vacation period, with Deputy PMs Azarov and 
Tabachnyk (Regions) trying to bypass the Defense Ministry and 
make decisions in the Cabinet's Economic Committee in Odesa's 
favor.  Ultimately, sustained determined actions by Acting 
Defense Minister Leonid Polyakov, effective use of a 
Presidential speech in Lviv by Yushchenko, and Regions' 
wariness over a direct challenge in Yushchenko's 
constitutionally defined area of authority allowed MOD to 
carry the day, albeit in the form of a compromise allowing 
Odesa and its backers to save some face. 

3. (C) Comment: The struggle as described by Polyakov 
demonstrates the speed and the extent to which Regions 
attempted to impose its influence in August, while much of 
official Ukraine was on vacation, as well as the 
determination of a pair of Orange reformers to keep their 
agenda intact.  Polyakov noted that Regions' attempt to 
unseat him as First Deputy Defense Minister in the aftermath 
of a mid-August fire/explosion at the Novobohdanivka arsenal 
was unrelated to the struggle over military education 
institutions.  Instead, Regions attempted to open a key slot 
at the Defense Ministry which it would then seek to fill with 
its own man, since "cadre placement and rent seeking 
offices," in his view, have been the priorities of the 
Regions team since they returned to government in early 
August. 

4. (C) Comment, cont: Polyakov told us repeatedly through 
August that nearly all governmental initiative was now in 
Regions' hands, and that only a sustained effort by 
Yushchenko to assert himself could serve as an effective 
counterbalance.  While the active role of Yushchenko in an 
era of cohabitation will be key to maintaining forward 
momentum on his stated agenda in foreign and domestic policy, 
retention of dedicated reformers like Hrytsenko, Polyakov, as 
well as Foreign Minister Tarasyuk and Interior Minister 
Lutsenko will be equally crucial in ensuring continued 
implementation of those policies, particularly of security 
sector reform.  End Summary and Comment. 

Downsizing Military Education: Lviv vs. Odesa 
--------------------------------------------- 

5. (C) First Deputy Defense Minister Leonid Polyakov shared 
with us September 3 the behind the scenes details of a 
specific orange-blue power struggle that played out during 
the August vacation break largely out of the public eye.  The 
issue concerned reforms near and dear to the hearts of IMET 
grads DefMin Hrytsenko and Polyakov: rationalizing a bloated 
system of military education, ending the financing of 
excessive training for unneeded reserve officers, and 
ensuring the best location for Ukraine's version of West 
Point.  Polyakov said he had quietly made this one of his top 
priorities ever since his first trip outside Kyiv in the 
spring of 2005, to Lviv's Land Forces Academy and the Yavoriv 
Training Grounds in Lviv oblast, which underscored the 
necessity to rationalize and reform the education and 
training system, both for budgetary and quality reasons. 

6. (C) Polyakov noted that Ukraine at independence had 
inherited four land forces institutes: at Kharkiv, Sumy, 
Lviv, and Odesa.  While the Air Force and Navy had easily 
focused their education at Kharkiv and Sevastopol, 

KIEV 00003425  002 OF 003 

respectively, the Army faced a more difficult task, with not 
only four main institutes but dozens of civilian university 
training departments turning out tens of thousands of 
unneeded reserve officers at MOD expense.  Kharkiv and Sumy 
had been relatively easy to close, but a fierce bureaucratic 
battle between Lviv and Odesa unfolded when it became clear 
only one would survive, according to Polyakov. 

7
. (C) Lviv was clearly the best option in Polyakov's mind: 
the associated civilian university was of higher quality; the 
training facilities nearby, particularly Yavoriv, were 
superior to anything near Odesa; and the per cadet cost of 
education in Lviv was lower than in Odesa, a city famed for 
its corruption since the times of the tsars.  While those 
were the official rationales, an unofficial factor was the 
clincher for the MOD leadership: Lviv is unambiguously 
Ukrainian, whereas Odesa is a Russian-speaking, more 
"cosmopolitan" freewheeling port city with its own identity. 
Rather than continue an old Soviet tradition where a military 
installation or institute often defined the host town (think 
Sevastopol), Polyakov believed that a military education 
institute and its cadets should be influenced by their 
environment instead. 

8. (C) With Ukraine and its institutions still in the 
nation-building stage, Lviv was the clear MOD choice to train 
the next generation of army officers (200-300 a year). 
However, because of the political sensitivity of regional 
politics, said Polyakov, he and Hrytsenko never mentioned 
this factor publicly or put it on paper, to avoid giving 
political opponents any grounds to challenge them or the 
decision.  Unfortunately, deputy Defense Minister Pasko 
slipped and made one public mention of the "Ukrainian" factor 
associated with Lviv, according to Polyakov, giving opponents 
a heads up and an avenue of attack. 

The Political Power Play, resolved in Lviv's favor 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 

9. (C) Politicians aware of the Lviv vs. Odesa debate broke 
down along predictable lines, according to Polyakov: BYuT was 
solidly behind Lviv, OU more or less so; Regions, the 
Socialists, and Communists backed Odesa.  The August showdown 
centered around MOD orders to transfer 250 second and third 
year cadets from Odesa to Lviv, effectively shutting down the 
Odesa Institute, though it had already been decided to allow 
final year cadets in Odesa to complete their training. 
Backers of Odesa secured a court decision blocking the 
transfer, a classic mechanism used by political forces in 
Ukraine attempting to stymie decisions by their opponents. 
Polyakov said that as Acting Defense Minister in August, he 
continued an intensive phone campaign, cajoling and berating 
a series of officials who needed to take a series of actions 
to complete the transfer but faced the conflict between 
ministerial orders and a politically motivated court 
decision. 

10. (C) After the Yanukovych-led Cabinet formed the first 
week in August, according to Polyakov, DPMs Azarov and 
Tabachnyk quietly attempted to circumvent the Defense 
Ministry on the institute issue by using the Cabinet's 
Economic Committee to take decisions in favor of Odesa. 
Polyakov and his allies countered by securing inclusion of a 
final decision on Lviv into comments made by President 
Yushchenko August 27 while in Lviv to celebrate Independence 
Day and the 150th anniversary of Ukrainian writer Ivan 
Franko's birth.  That proved to be the clincher, with Azarov, 
Tabachnyk, and company caught off guard, according to 
Polyakov, unwilling to challenge Yushchenko on an issue 
clearly within the constitutional competency of the 
President.  The cadet transfer went forward in time for the 
start of the academic year, with Defense Minister Hrytsenko 
traveling to Lviv and giving several policy speeches at the 
academy. 

11. (C) Polyakov said that the MOD agreed to a face-saving 
compromise which allowed Odesa's backers to claim partial 
victory.  Rather than have training of reserve officers at a 
subordinate faculty of Odesa's Polytechnical Institute as 
planned, the Odesa Land Forces Institute name was retained, 
rather than being eliminated.  However, the substance did not 
change: with the exception of the graduating cadets this 
year, the training at the Odesa Institute would be of reserve 
officers only, and self-financed by the students wanting to 
receive the rank of junior lieutenant (reserve).  The 
state/MOD would no longer finance reserve officer training, a 
point Hrytsenko made in his September 4 news conference at 
the Lviv academy. 

KIEV 00003425  003 OF 003 

12. (SBU) Hrytsenko's news conference provided the only real 
public window into the struggle.  In acknowledging the 
sensitivity of moves to reduce the number of state-funded 
training locations, Hrytsenko stated: "Enormous pressure was 
put on the Defense Ministry of Ukraine to persuade it not to 
close down some military training departments, although it 
was high time to do so....I have taken a decision, and the 
state will no longer finance training of reserve officers." 

13. (C) Note: Polyakov, an IMET graduate of the US Army War 
College at Carlisle Barracks, PA (DefMin Hrytsenko is an IMET 
graduate of the US Air War College at Maxwell AFB, AL), said 
that resolving the future of the Land Forces Institute and 
army education in Ukraine was the reform issue closest to his 
heart, and he would have resigned had he lost the Lviv vs. 
Odesa battle.  Similarly, Hrytsenko told visiting EUR DAS 
Kramer and Ambassador July 28 that he would resign as 
Minister if he could not secure the funding necessary to 
implement his military reform agenda (ref a).  Yushchenko 
reappointed Hrytsenko a week later, along with Interior 
Minister Lutsenko, who had earlier vowed to resign rather 
than serve under Yanukovych but ultimately chose duty to the 
state over political preference (ref b). 

14. (U) Visit Embassy Kiev's classified website at: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
Taylor

 

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