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08KYIV851, UKRAINE: DEFENSE MINISTER ON REGIONAL

April 30, 2008

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08KYIV851 2008-04-30 15:16 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 KYIV 000851 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT ALSO FOR EUR/UMB AND EUR/RPM 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/30/2018 
TAGS: PREL MCAP MARR ETRD EINV NATO UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: DEFENSE MINISTER ON REGIONAL 
RELATIONSHIPS AND MILITARY DEVELOPMENT 
 
Classified By: Ambassador for reasons 1.4 (b,d). 
 
1. (SBU) Summary and comment.  Ambassador, Defense Attache, 
and Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) Chief met with 
Minister of Defense Yuriy Yekhanurov at his request. 
Minister Yekhanurov came with a list of issues to discuss 
that concerned both relations with Ukraine's neighbors and 
internal military issues.  The Minister wished to inform the 
Ambassador on key domestic issues, to seek advice on 
difficult challenges, and to request assistance on certain 
commercial venture proposals concerning military housing, 
airlift aircraft, and helicopters.  Comment: Responses or 
suggestions regarding the Minister's proposals are welcome. 
End summary and comment. 
 
2. (SBU) Minister of Defense Yuriy Yekhanurov requested a 
meeting with U.S. Ambassador to discuss several unnamed 
issues which he declined to elaborate in advance.  He desired 
the meeting to be held outside the Ministry of Defense and 
said he would not be accompanied.  On April 23, Minister 
Yekhanurov came to the U.S. Embassy and met with Ambassador. 
Also in the meeting were U.S. Defense Attache, ODC Chief, and 
a U.S. Embassy interpreter.  Minister Yekhanurov began by 
saying the Defense Ministry (MoD) had been engaged in very 
intensive efforts on the eve of the Bucharest summit and felt 
they were prepared going into the summit.  Following the 
summit, MoD gained a clear understanding what must be done to 
achieve NATO standards.  Minister Yekhanurov made the point 
that Ukraine must focus on practical results and completing 
the Ukraine-NATO Action Plan in full and in all of the 
Ministries.  He related that the government has been able to 
achieve desired results in certain instances by reaching out 
to the opposition.  He assessed they would be able to achieve 
significant progress bit by bit by taking small steps in key 
areas. 
 
Ukraine-Russia 
-------------- 
 
3. (SBU) Minister Yekhanurov explained that many contentious 
issues should be solved within the confines of domestic 
politics.  He said Ukraine should not bring its domestic 
problems to NATO to solve.  Nor, he said, should Ukraine 
expect NATO nations to shoulder the burden of all of 
Ukraine's problems.  He said not all of Ukraine's politicians 
have a clear understanding of that principle.  Specifically, 
Minister Yekhanurov raised two issues which he considers 
issues for Ukraine to solve, but he desired to make us aware 
of them and potential actions they are considering.  The 
first issue concerns Ukraine's relationship with Russia.  As 
a preface, he said Russia must come to terms with and to 
respect Ukraine's choice for its Euro-Atlantic aspirations. 
Ukraine desires to have good relations with Russia and to 
cooperate with Russia in all spheres.  He related that 
Ukraine had completed a successful air defense exercise with 
Russia on April 23, which marked the first exercise in a 
series of multinational exercises Ukraine will complete in 
2008.  Minister Yekhanurov also hopes to host a meeting of 
Chiefs of Defense in Ukraine, including Chiefs from NATO and 
non-NATO nations to prove that Ukraine desires to reach out 
to everyone while integrating into NATO structures. 
 
4. (C) Minister Yekhanurov is concerned that failuer to 
 
KYIV 00000851  002 OF 005 
 
 
properly demarcate the Ukraine-Russia border, however, could 
continue to cause tensions and to reduce the effectiveness of 
Ukraine's desire to integrate successfully with the West and 
the global community at large.  To influence the Russians to 
complete this process, one proposal would be to make border 
demarcation a condition for Ukraine's approval of Russia's 
entry into the WTO by emphasizing Ukraine's legitimate right 
to an established border.  Minister Yekhanurov explained that 
an established border is required to establish customs 
territories and regimes linked to foreign trade.  A properly 
marked border is also required to tackle the extreme problem 
of contraband flow on both sides of thei
r border with Russia. 
 Ambassador cautioned the Minister to be very careful on this 
issue.  Making bilateral non-trade-related conditions for WTO 
agreement might not in the end be in the best interest of 
Ukraine, he noted.  But, he said, he would check with the 
experts to see if such issues had been addressed in other WTO 
negotiations. 
 
Georgia and Other Neighbors 
--------------------------- 
 
5. (C) Regarding Ukraine-Russia relations, Minister 
Yekhanurov said Georgia wished to purchase high-end military 
equipment from Ukraine, specifically an immediate purchase of 
S300 air defense systems.  Minister Yekhanurov said Ukraine 
does not have excess S300 systems available to sell to 
Georgia even if it wanted to.  Additionally, Georgia desires 
to be closely tied to Ukraine on the NATO issue.  Georgia's 
vision is, MAP for Ukraine equals MAP for Georgia.  He asked 
if NATO nations shared this view.  The Ambassador replied 
that we had pushed very hard for MAPs for both countries, but 
addressed each case on its merits.  In this area, and the 
area of acquiring military equipment Georgia is applying 
pressure to Ukraine as Georgia sees no other alternative to 
its security needs. 
 
6. (SBU) Minister Yekhanurov said Ukraine desires to be a 
leader and positive facilitator in the region.  Ukraine 
maintains close relations with Georgia and is prepared to 
assist the Georgians where and when possible.  Ukraine also 
desires to work with European nations to positively influence 
Belarus to the extent possible.  It is important for Ukraine 
to have good neighborly relations with Belarus, and Ukraine 
would like to assist them to move in the right direction, but 
Ukraine is often frustrated by actions of the President of 
Belarus.  Ukraine is also working with Moldova on the 
Transnistria situation and closely monitoring developments. 
 
The Future Armed Forces of Ukraine 
---------------------------------- 
 
7. (SBU) Shifting gears, Minister Yekhanurov said he wished 
to bring up some military issues.  He began by saying the 
Ukrainian military will have 14,000 fewer personnel at the 
end of 2008 than it had at the end of 2007.  Considering 
those numbers, MoD planS to draft 30,000 conscripts in 2008, 
primarily into the signal corps, the Air Force and the 
Maritime Component of the Navy.  He claimed that the 14K 
reduction partially resolves the issue of the budget, but 
provided no further information on this, although he said 
inflation continues to take its toll.  One of his objectives 
is to increase the popularity of the armed forces in the eyes 
 
KYIV 00000851  003 OF 005 
 
 
of the general public.  One of his ideas for doing this is to 
use those military personnel who have experience in 
international operations to reach out to the general public 
and increase public awareness of what the military is doing. 
The primary target audience would be young people and 
students.  He plans to put some personnel in to mass media 
organizations to work as information providers and promoters. 
 
8. (SBU) Housing Project in Sevastopol.  Continuing on his 
vision for the future armed forces, Minister Yekhanurov said 
he would like to move upwards of 5000 military personnel to 
Sevastopol to increase the Ukrainian military presence there. 
 He has identified the Sevastopol area as being a number one 
priority of effort.  He contemplates how Sevastopol will look 
after the withdrawal of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.   Will 
it develop into a large commercial port, or something else? 
He said currently, much of the property that is used by the 
Russian Black Sea Fleet is being transferred to Russian 
businesses.  He would like to see a Cabinet of Ministers 
resolution which declares all property used by the RU BSF to 
be property of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and any 
transfers of property not approved by the Ukrainian MoD would 
be deemed invalid. 
 
9. (C) To make Sevastopol a desirable and compatible place to 
add upwards of 5000 personnel, the government would have to 
build adequate housing.  In this manner, he says they could 
move personnel from other regions of Ukraine to Sevastopol, 
including the Western regions.  Minister Yekhanurov has been 
approached by U.S. construction companies to discuss 
potential housing construction projects.  The Minister thinks 
a U.S. company should be able to obtain loans from EXIM Bank 
to do work in Ukraine.   The Government of Ukraine would 
guarantee loan payment.  The Minister is keen on this idea 
because he wants housing in Sevastopol to be constructed very 
soon.  Given their budget constraints and processes they 
would not be able to secure funding for quick construction. 
His interest is to develop a serious Ukrainian armed forces 
presence in Sevastopol, and after the RU BSF departs in 2017, 
additional personnel could be moved in.  He said MoD already 
owns the land needed for new housing, and the land could be 
used as a mortgage. (Note: DAO and FCS are following up with 
the Minister's deputy.  End note.) 
 
10. (SBU) New Military Helicopter project.  From housing in 
Sevastopol, Minister Yekhanurov switched to military 
helicopters.  He said the Armed Forces have about 300 
helicopters which are grounded.  They currently attempt to 
build up one flyable helicopter from three.  He believes that 
their useful life is only another five years.  Therefore, he 
is interested in pursuing projects in manufacturing or 
assembling helicopters in Ukraine in partnership with foreign 
companies.  MoD has several factories that can be used for 
upgrade or repair of helicopters or they could be converted 
to manufacture under a joint venture.  He believes they 
should choose either an American company or a French company. 
  He would like this issue to be decided by the end of this 
year or the beginning of next. 
 
11. (SBU) AN-70 Aircraft project.  The Minister's next issue 
concerned AN-70 transport aircraft.  He said they must 
complete some additional testing on the aircraft within the 
next 18 months.  Two aircraft are being constructed at the 
 
KYIV 00000851  004 OF 005 
 
 
Aviant Plant in Kyiv, but slowly.  The AN-70 is still a joint 
project with Russia and he says Russia continuously delays 
the work.  Russia plans to continue financing the project but 
the financing process is slow.  If Russia were to pull out 
all together, the cancellation charge to them would be much 
greater than staying in.  Minister Yekhanurov would like to 
find an alternative to the Russian partnership to either 
prompt the Russians to action or to separate from the 
Russians on the project.  Besides the general problem of 
Russian partnership, he said the wings for the AN-70 are 
currently produced in Tashkent at a firm that is now a part 
of a Russian aviation concern, so this is another area where 
they need to find an alternative if they are to strike out on 
their own.  Minister Yekhanurov knows that Ukraine sho
uld 
focus on airlift to be a force contributor to international 
operations.  He said when they join NATO, airlift should be 
one of their main contributions. 
 
Other issues 
------------ 
 
12. (SBU) Ambassador raised three issues with Minister 
Yekhanurov concerning the NATO PfP Trust Fund, Ukraine's 
contribution to the Swedish PRT in Afghanistan, and the visit 
of the ODC Chief to Kharkiv to look at a potential new senior 
noncommissioned officer academy.  Ambassador told Minister 
Yekhanurov that Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield will visit 
Ukraine in May with an interest in discussing the reduction 
of MANPADs throughout the world.  Minister Yekhanurov 
promised Ambassador Bloomfield would be able to visit a 
MANPADS storage facility while he is in Ukraine. 
 
13. (SBU) On the Swedish PRT, Ambassador said that Acting 
First Deputy Minister Ivashchenko mentioned a possible need 
for foreign assistance with their deployment to Afghanistan 
with the Swedish PRT.  Minister Yekhanurov said he just 
recently approved a document to send seven additional 
personnel to Afghanistan to augment the Swedish PRT. 
Following the most recent negotiations in Sweden, Ukraine is 
considering the possibility of operating within the PRT as 
one intact patrol unit.  If this is the case they would 
probably need to acquire their own transportation to 
accomplish the mission.  (Comment: From conversations with 
others, we know the Swedes will operate Land Rovers and to be 
logistically compatible, the Ukrainians should obtain their 
own Land Rover vehicles.) 
 
14. (SBU) Lastly, the ODC Chief briefed the Minister on his 
trip to the Armor Officer School in Kharkiv, which the MoD is 
considering for conversion to a senior noncommissioned 
officer academy.  Minister Yekhanurov said the NCO school in 
Kharkiv is a priority and was very interested in the views of 
the ODC Chief.  Of particular note were the Minister's views 
on the Army's current NCO school in Desna after a recent 
visit.  He said the base and school should be closed, 
dismantled, and a new city should be built on that site.  He 
said no one from Desna should be moved to Kharkiv.  With 
these comments, the Minister clearly saw at Desna a monument 
to the old Soviet military ways, and possessed no desire for 
it to continue or propagate. (Note: We fully agree. End note.) 
 
15. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
 
KYIV 00000851  005 OF 005 
 
 
Taylor

Wikileaks

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