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07KYIV478, UKRAINE: THINKING OF ENGAGING BELARUS PRESIDENT

February 26, 2007

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07KYIV478 2007-02-26 16:04 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO7955
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #0478/01 0571604
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 261604Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1337
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KYIV 000478 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/20/2017 
TAGS: PREL PBTS MNUC PINR BO UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: THINKING OF ENGAGING BELARUS PRESIDENT 
LUKASHENKO 
 
REF: A. 2/17/2007 GEE/GWALTNEY E-MAIL 
 
     B. 06 KYIV 4647 
 
Classified By: DCM Sheila Gwaltney for reasons 1.4 (b,d). 
 
1. (C) Summary:  On February 16, the Ukrainians floated a 
proposal to extend an overture to Belarusan President 
Lukashenko in the hope of obtaining progress on 
Ukraine-Belarus border issues and cooperation in forming a 
united front against Russian on energy issues.  The initial 
proposal included the prospect of Lukashenko joining a small 
February 24 birthday celebration for Ukrainian President 
Yushchenko with Polish President Kaczynski and Lithuanian 
President Adamkus at Yushchenko's mountain dacha, followed by 
Lukashenko making an official visit to Kyiv.  Ambassador 
argued strongly and successfully against the proposal with 
members of the Foreign Ministry and Presidential Secretariat. 
 While the Ukrainians are still pursuing possible ways to 
restructure their initiative to make it more palatable to 
Western friends, they abandoned the initial proposal, will 
consult with Warsaw and Vilnius, and will lay down conditions 
for a Lukashenko visit to Kyiv that will occur no earlier 
than March 5. 
 
2. (C) Comment: The immediate crisis was averted due to our 
clear objections and the united stance provided by Poland, 
Lithuania, and others.  We will, however, need to continue 
insisting that Ukraine must push for genuine steps from 
Lukashenko, starting with the release of nine political 
prisoners, and not just the appearance of reform, to justify 
a bilateral summit.  Based on past history, Lukashenko is 
unlikely to take the necessary steps and will scuttle 
Ukrainian efforts on his own.  End summary/comment. 
 
Giving Luka a meeting in exchange for agreements? 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
3. (SBU) On February 16, Presidential Secretariat Deputy Head 
for Foreign Policy Oleksandr Chaliy asked Ambassador for a 
U.S. reaction to meetings with Belarusan President Lukashenko 
that the Secretariat hoped would improve bilateral 
Ukraine-Belarus relations.  Chaliy said the Secretariat was 
considering an invitation to Lukashenko to celebrate 
Yushchenko's February 24 birthday along with the Lithuanian 
and Polish presidents at Yushchenko's dacha in the 
Carpathians.  The event would be followed by a one-day 
official visit to Kyiv by Lukashenko, during which Ukraine 
and Belarus would sign five agreements. 
 
4. (SBU) Chaliy noted the five agreements would include the 
two most desired by Kyiv for years: official demarcation of 
the Ukraine-Belarus border and simplified transit procedures 
between Slavutych and Chornobyl across a strip of Belarusan 
territory (Note: Minsk's refusal to endorse these requests 
have scuttled previous efforts dating back to October 2005 to 
arrange a meeting.  End note).  The other agreements would 
involve energy and consular/legal issues.  Chaliy said 
Ukrainian officials would use the visit to press Lukashenko 
to implement steps to lighten the climate of repression in 
Belarus and implement democratic reforms.  He also appealed 
for U.S. assistance to obtain Polish and Lithuanian agreement 
to include Lukashenko in the birthday celebration. 
 
5. (SBU) Ambassador immediately argued against the proposal, 
noting that Lukashenko found himself in a weak position, 
without support from either East or West.  The visit would 
only serve to confer legitimacy on Lukashenko.  In order to 
even consider supporting such a visit, the U.S. would need to 
see Lukashenko immediately take significant steps on the 
democracy front.  He argued that Ukraine's hoped-for 
deliverables, Lukashenko's agreement to allow the EU to open 
an office in Minsk and to support Polish minorities in 
eastern Belarus, were incommensurate with the enhanced 
stature that Ukraine would provide Lukashenko.  In a later 
telephone call, Ambassador suggested that release of all 
political prisoners could constitute a significant step; 
Chaliy objected that the suggestion would be too radical for 
Lukashenko. 
 
MFA: Worth it for bilateral and geopolitical reasons 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
6. (C) In a follow-up February 19 meeting with acting Foreign 
Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko, Ambassador used ref A talking 
points to argue further against the Ukrainian proposal.  He 
noted that, outside of meetings in a Commonwealth of 
Independent States (CIS) context, the U.S. was aware of only 
three bilateral meetings that Lukashenko had had with heads 
of state -- with Zimbabwean President Mugabe, Iranian 
President Ahmadinejad, and Venezuelan President Chavez.  Did 
Yushchenko want to be included in such company, Ambassador 
 
KYIV 00000478  002 OF 002 
 
 
asked rhetorically? 
 
7. (C) While Ohryzko admitted that prospect was not 
appealing, he claimed that Ukraine, in addition to the 
border-related agreements, hoped to obtain Lukashenko's 
b
uy-in on forming a working group of energy-transit countries 
that could work as a group to counter Russian pressure. 
Although Lukashenko was weak now, he would not change 
overnight; the Ukrainians hoped to work with Lukashenko to 
persuade him that he had options other than Russia.  Since 
nothing would happen, positive or negative, without 
Lukashenko's assent, Ukraine needed to engage him to obtain 
progress on bilateral issues.  Ambassador reiterated that 
Lukashenko needed to take a significant step in advance of 
the meeting such as releasing all political prisoners; in the 
absence of such a step, the U.S. would not hesitate to 
publicly criticize a Ukraine-Belarus summit meeting. 
 
Presidential Secretariat backs down, changes tack 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
8. (C) Presidential Secretariat Head Viktor Baloha informed 
Ambassador February 20 that the Ukrainians had reconsidered 
their proposal and would set conditions for a Lukashenko 
visit to Kyiv.  Minsk's latest proposal was for a potential 
meeting which would occur no earlier than March 5.  In the 
meantime, Chaliy would first travel to Warsaw and Vilnius to 
consult with Polish and Lithuanian counterparts before 
traveling to Minsk to discuss conditionality.  In Minsk, 
Chaliy would relay Ukraine's conditions for a Lukashenko 
visit; if the Belarusans balked, then the visit would not 
take place. 
 
9. (C)  Baloha repeated Chaliy's point that the Belarusans 
were feeling pressure both from Russia and the West and 
viewed Ukraine as offering one of the few avenues potentially 
to relieve the pressure.  Ambassador again stressed that the 
U.S. and EU held the common view that high-ranking officials 
should not meet Lukashenko until he took appropriate steps 
forward on democratic reforms and protection of human rights, 
such as the release of political prisoners.  Were Ukraine to 
proceed with such a meeting without securing the release of 
Belarus' nine political prisoners, the U.S. would publicly 
criticize the move.  Reddening, Baloha said he understood and 
would inform Yushchenko of the U.S. position. 
 
10. (SBU) Ambassador called Chaliy February 22 and reiterated 
that the initiative and his trip to Minsk would not be a 
success unless he was able to secure the release of the 
political prisoners.  Chaliy told Ambassador February 23 that 
he had a "small measure of optimism" that the initiative 
might succeed. 
 
11. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
Taylor

Wikileaks

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