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06KYIV4295, UKRAINE: EMBATTLED FM SUPPORTS ENGAGEMENT WITH

November 17, 2006

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KYIV4295 2006-11-17 12:58 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO2198
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #4295/01 3211258
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 171258Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0402
INFO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KYIV 004295 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/16/2016 
TAGS: PREL PGOV UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: EMBATTLED FM SUPPORTS ENGAGEMENT WITH 
YANUKOVYCH - "HE HAS CHANGED" 
 
REF: KYIV 4285 
 
Classified By: Ambassador for reasons 1.4(a,b,d). 
 
1.  (C) Summary:  "Orange" and embattled Foreign Minister 
Borys Tarasyuk told visiting EUR A/S Fried that the U.S. 
approach to PM Yanukovych and the Party of Regions coalition 
was correct, arguing that Yanukovych had changed for the 
better.  He noted that the PM's upcoming U.S. visit, and his 
desire to change his image (badly tarnished in 2004), gave us 
the opportunity to challenge the PM to maintain the pace of 
democratic reforms in the country -- something that we could 
assess through his concrete deeds.  The FM said that the new 
government was now united in moving forward on WTO, 
suggesting that Ukraine could be a full member in the 
organization by mid-February 2007.  Tarasyuk also described 
Ukraine's relations with Russia, Moldova and Georgia, and 
worried about the negative affect of difficult Polish-German 
relations on Ukraine.  End Summary. 
 
2.  (C)  Comment:  Tarasyuk met with Fried after a long day 
answering tough questions from the Regions-dominated Rada 
over his performance as FM over the past few months.  As 
described reftel, the Rada will decide whether or not to vote 
on whether Tarasyuk will remain at the MFA the week of 
November 28.  Therefore, it was surprising to hear Tarasyuk 
endorse our policy of engaging the PM and judging the new 
government on the basis of its concrete actions rather than 
past misdeeds of its members.  Tarasyuk had little to say 
about his Rada appearance, except to argue vigorously that 
the charges of corruption against his colleague at the 
Defense Ministry, Anatoliy Hrytsenko, were misplaced, since 
the events under discussion had all taken place prior to 
Hrytsenko's start at the Ministry.  End Comment. 
 
On The Right Track - Engaging Yanukovych 
---------------------------------------- 
3.  (C)  Tarasyuk began the conversation by noting that the 
U.S.-Russian agreement on a WTO bilateral had made it easier 
for Ukraine to move ahead.  The President, PM and Rada 
Speaker had all agreed, and Tarasyuk predicted that Ukraine 
could join by mid-February 2007.  In the FM's view, the 
coalition was on track for now, but President Yushchenko 
still wanted to unite the country, and in his mind, that 
meant cooperation between Regions and Our Ukraine political 
forces was key.  Yushchenko was committed to pursuing a 
cooperative course, but he was not extremely optimistic about 
its success. 
 
4.  (C)  Nevertheless, Yushchenko's continued push toward 
cooperation had shown results.  Referring to a 7-hour meeting 
November 13 between Yushchenko and Yanukovych, the FM noted 
that the PM had been more restrained in his comments over the 
past few days -- a change from the past weekend when the PM 
had personally and publicly attacked Tarasyuk in the press. 
He said that at the opening of the November 15 cabinet 
meeting, the PM had spoken in a measured tone about his 
"orange" ministers, noting that he had "no complaints" about 
their performance.  The problem, in Yanukovych's view, was 
that these ministers needed to define themselves politically 
-- were they in the opposition or not?  This new restrained 
tone was a direct result of the November 13 meeting and 
Tarasyuk said that Yushchenko was determined to continue to 
seek regular meetings with the PM. 
 
5.  (C)  Tarasyuk argued that preserving democracy in Ukraine 
was task number one and above politics -- and Yushchenko, as 
guarantor of the constitution, had done what he had to do 
when he agreed to make Yanukovych PM,  In Tarasyuk's view, 
Yanukovych was "different" in 2006 than he was in 2004 and 
both Yanukovych and Yushchenko were learning to deal with 
each other as "ex-adversaries."  Tarasyuk quipped, "we (their 
advisors) are also learning," however, Yanukovcych's team is 
"much more negative on working together" than the PM is. 
Although the PM's team is not pro-Yanukovych "anti-democratic 
in principle," they are tempted to work in the shadow 
economy.  But as time passes, Tarasyuk said that he is 
increasingly convinced that if Yanukovych and Yushchenko work 
together, the country will benefit politically. 
 
6.  (C)  Even on NATO, Tarasyuk stressed that Yanukovych had 
changed for the better; only the tactics differed now between 
Yushchenko and Yanukovych regarding eventual membership. 
Tarasyuk noted that this was a leap for Yanukovych - in the 
2004 and 2006 elections, Yanukovych had been a stalwart 
opponent of ties with NATO.  The problem now was the strong 
current of feeling against NATO membership within the Regions 
Party and the Yanukovych-led anti-Crisis Coalition.  The key 
issue was MAP and Yushchenko was working this hard.  But 
anti-NATO feeling in the party and the coalition will make it 
 
KYIV 00004295  002 OF 003 
 
 
hard for Yanukovych to move ahead toward NATO. 
 
7.  (C)  Tarasyuk said that the U.S. strategy to challenge 
Yanukovych to remain committed to democratic reform in 
Ukraine and judge him by his concrete deeds was correct. 
Like Kuchma, Yanukovych kn
ows that he has an image problem in 
the West, but unlike Kuchma, Yanukovych is determined to 
change it, particularly in Washington during his December 
trip.  Tarasyuk said that the PM wants to overcome his image 
from 2004 and his reputation as a pro-Russian, non-democratic 
oligarch.  In fact, the "pro-Russian" image of the Party of 
Regions government was a myth.  No one in the government 
wanted to be under Russian control and Ukrainian businessmen 
did not want Russian business on their turf. 
 
The Neighbors - Views of Russia, Georgia, Moldova 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
8.  (C)  A/S Fried asked about the rumors that in a "grand 
deal," the new government would be willing to exchange NATO 
membership, a longer lease for the Russian Black Sea Fleet 
and even democracy in order to get cheap gas from Russia. 
Tarasyuk said that wasn't true, and noted that the Yanukovych 
team was convinced that it now had a solid three year deal 
with Russia for natural gas priced at 130 USD/tcm,  In 
Tarasyuk's opinion, Yanukovych had made setting the gas price 
his number one priority upon taking office -- and now that a 
deal had been reached, he felt that the pressure from Russia 
was off.  Fried mentioned that the U.S. had no desire to 
encourage Ukrainian tension with Russia.  In fact, the 
Russians had a tougher task - encouraging Ukraine to stay 
distant from the West - and that would be harder to achieve. 
 
9.  (C)  Prefacing his comments regarding Georgia with the 
statement that "the President has enormous constitutional 
powers in foreign policy," Tarasyuk stated that there would 
be no change in Ukraine's supportive policy toward Georgia - 
the MFA was in charge.  Tarasyuk acknowledged that the 
Georgians needed to work harder to establish good relations 
with the new government, especially between the two prime 
ministers, similar to the close relationship that he had with 
his counterpart.  He acknowledged that some in the 
Yanukovych/Regions team were uncomfortable with Ukraine's 
Georgia policy, but that this policy was firmly under 
Yushchenko's control.  Unlike the Moldovans, the Georgians 
were moving in the right direction although Tarasyuk noted 
that the Georgian actions over the past months, (e.g. the 
handling of the four accused spies) had been taken as a 
personal insult by Putin. 
 
10.  (C)  Tarasyuk said that as a neighboring country, the 
situation regarding Moldova was different.  On the positive 
side, the new Ukrainian government had accepted the need to 
honor the customs agreement, support EUBAM, etc.  And all 
understood that it was not possible to return to the Kuchma 
period when the border was simply a huge smuggling zone. 
However, the Moldovans were "difficult people to work with" 
and their "selfish behavior" did not allow them to see that 
the Ukrainians were carrying the major burden of the current 
policy.  For example, the Ukrainians had long used the 
shortest railway connections to transport goods to and 
through Moldova.  However, now that they had agreed to use 
the longer route, the Moldovans had taken advantage of the 
situation by increasing the tariffs on Ukrainian trains. 
 
11.  (C)  The previous government had worked hard to change 
this situation, but the new team had less patience.  They 
told the Molodovans to stop it -- and when they refused, the 
new government said that they would close the bridge and cut 
connections.  And that is what they did.  Although the 
Moldovans complained to the OSCE, the U.S. and the EU, that 
they were the "victims," the Moldovans had contributed to the 
situation.  Despite this, according to Tarasyuk, Ukraine 
remains firmly committed to the negotiations, noting that he 
had raised with Lavrov during his Kyiv visit the importance 
of re-starting the 5 2 talks -- and Lavrov agreed in 
principle.  Even on the negotiations front, the Moldovans 
were complicating the issue by continuing to talk bilaterally 
with the Russians on resolving the situation. 
 
Polish-German Relations - A Problem for Ukraine 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
12.  (C)  Tarasyuk said that he remained very concerned that 
rocky atmospherics between Poland and Germany were hurting 
Ukraine, especially as Germany prepared to take over the EU 
Presidency.  He said that the Ukrainians had been working to 
get Poland, as Ukraine's key advocate in Europe, back into 
Germany's good graces.  Tarasyuk urged the U.S. to use our 
good relationship with Angela Merkel to increase German 
interest in Ukraine and closer Ukrainian relations with the 
EU.  Tarasyuk noted that it has already been two years since 
 
KYIV 00004295  003 OF 003 
 
 
a high-level German official agreed to visit Ukraine. 
 
13.  (U)  This cable has been cleared by A/S Fried. 
 
14.  (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
Taylor

Wikileaks

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