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08KYIV1624, UKRAINE: PRESIDENT’S BSF DECREES HEIGHTEN DOMESTIC

August 15, 2008

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08KYIV1624 2008-08-15 13:36 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXYZ0010
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKV #1624/01 2281336
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 151336Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6213
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L KYIV 001624 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/20/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR RS UP MARR
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: PRESIDENT'S BSF DECREES HEIGHTEN DOMESTIC 
AND UKRAINE-RUSSIA TENSIONS 
 
REF: A. MOSCOW 2411 
     B. KYIV 1558 
 
Classified By: Charge for reasons 1.4(b,d). 
 
1. (C) Summary and Comment.  The issuance on August 13 by 
President Yushchenko of two decrees regulating Russian 
Black Sea Fleet (BSF) and other military units' entry into 
Ukraine and deployments from Ukrainian territory has 
triggered another sharp exchange between Kyiv and Moscow 
(ref. A).  The Presidential Secretariat has noted that the 
decrees would not apply to the current BSF deployment to 
the Georgian coastline, but would affect any future 
sorties.  The Presidential Secretariat has called for 
renewed engagement with international partners regarding 
security guarantees, as the Georgia crisis placed into 
question Ukraine's ability to count on support if faced by 
an outside threat.  PM Tymoshenko has remained notably 
silent on the crisis, generating increased calls from 
coalition partners for her to take a public stance. 
Following initial criticisms of President Yushchenko 
regarding reported arms sales to Georgia, both the Party of 
Regions and Communists have muted their comments.  Crimea 
remains calm, but the anticipated return of BSF ships to 
Sevastopol has the GOU planning for potential pro and 
anti-Russia demonstrations (reftel). 
 
2. (C) Comment: MFA contacts indicate that intense internal 
discussions are underway within the GOU on how best to 
present the Georgia crisis as arguing strongly for Ukraine 
receiving MAP in December, while avoiding any impression 
that Kyiv is disassociating itself from Georgia.  We 
anticipate that parallel debates are underway on how to 
proceed regarding enforcement of President Yushchenko's BSF 
decrees -- especially given likely Russian non-compliance 
with the decree provisions.  Post believes upcoming 
hearings on the Georgia crisis called by Rada Defense and 
National Security Committee chair Hrytsenko will be key in 
moving domestic discussion and government policy forward on 
these issues.  End Summary and Comment. 
 
 
Yushchenko Decrees to Regulate BSF Movements 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
3.  (C) President Yushchenko on August 13 signed two 
decrees enacting NSDC decisions to 1) regulate border 
crossing for BSF personnel, ships, and planes, and 2) 
require GOU permission for future BSF deployments.  Similar 
language had been contained in two resolutions passed by 
the Cabinet of Ministers on June 25, but as yet not signed 
by PM Tymoshenko.  The Presidential Secretariat's move on 
the decrees probably resulted from a calculation that the 
PM was unlikely to sign the decrees in the near future, if 
ever.  (Embassy note: Tymoshenko has to date refrained from 
making any  statements on the Georgia crisis, probably 
calculating that any public position would be used against 
her in the upcoming presidential contest.  End Note.)  The 
first decree requires 72 hour notification to Ukraine's 
General Staff by Russia regarding BSF and other units' 
intentions to transit Ukraine's borders.  The decrees 
stipulate that notifications should contain information 
regarding ammunition, weapons, explosives, and military 
equipment being transported. 
 
4.  (C) Yushchenko's second decree regards the deployment 
of military formations of the Black Sea Fleet beyond the 
territory of Ukraine.  The BSF commander must request 
permission from Ukraine's MoD at least 10 days prior to 
movements outside the territory of Ukraine.  The MoD will 
forward copies of the foreign military request to the MFA, 
Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), MoI, Ministry of 
Emergency Situations, State Border Guard Service, and State 
Customs Service.  These entities must reply to the MoD and 
the approval of the requested movements must be unanimous. 
Routine movements can be approved on a monthly basis and 
Ukraine reserves the right to inspect such movements. 
(Embassy Note: Although the decrees do not carry treaty 
status, MFA and other GOU contacts have referred to Article 
6, paragraph 1, of the third 1997 treaty governing the 
conditions for BSF stationing in Crimea, which states "[the 
BSF] will respect the sovereignty of Ukraine, comply with 
its legislation, and not interfere into its internal 
affairs."  The language on complying with Ukrainian 
legislation is specifically cited by the GOU as compelling 
the BSF to abide by the new decrees.  End Embassy Note.) 
 
5.  (U) Presidential Secretariat Deputy Oleksandr Shlapak 
said on August 13 that the new requirements would not apply 
to the BSF's current deployment to the coast of Georgia. 
He clarified that "unfortunately" this was not a 
 
retroactive act and added that, once the decree is 
published, the GOU can demand that ships, aircraft, and 
military personnel deploying from Ukraine receive advance 
permission.  Shlapak added that according to estimates, 
there are close to ten thousand unregistered Russian 
military servicemen residing on Ukrainian territory today. 
He noted that the new regulations were appr
oved by the 
Cabinet in late June, but were not put into force "for 
unknown reasons." 
 
6. (U)  Another Presidential Secretariat Deputy, Andriy 
Honcharuk, told the press that Ukraine had played a vital 
role in helping to stabilize the conflict in Georgia.  He 
claimed that a significant number of Yushchenko's 
suggestions had been included in the international plan to 
resolve the conflict.  However, Honcharuk added that the 
international community's response to the conflict was 
"reserved" and that expectations of international security 
guarantees in regards to Georgia had not been met. 
Honcharuk noted that the crisis also had negative 
implications for Ukraine, as it too could not rely on 
current security guarantees in the event of foreign 
aggression.  Without providing specifics, Honcharuk 
concluded that Ukraine now needed to engage with the 
international community to develop a new approach on 
security issues.  Rada Defense and National Security 
Committee head Hrytsenko announced hearings to examine 
Ukraine's current security environment and future 
requirements in light of the Georgia conflict.  The session 
may be held August 15. 
 
PM and Interior Minister Said to Oppose Decrees; Claim no 
Knowledge 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
7.  (U) The presidential decrees also generated domestic 
tensions when Presidential Secretariat Deputy Shlapak 
stated that the NSDC's decision to adopt the decrees was 
supported by only 12 of its 14 members, with Prime Minister 
Tymoshenko and Interior Minister Lutsenko opposed to the 
decision.   The CabMin website posted a subsequent 
statement that Tymoshenko did not receive an invitation to 
attend any NSDC session during the past several days and 
that the CabMin only learned of the meeting from the media. 
 The CabMin statement said that "Unfortunately, lies and 
attempts to compromise us have become the daily task for 
the Presidential Secretariat."  Lutsenko also expressed 
surprise at Shlapak's statement and told reporters that he 
also was not notified of the meeting, and was currently 
away from Kyiv on vacation.  Furthermore, Lutsenko pointed 
out that only a few months ago, the Ministry of the 
Interior had itself coordinated negotiations concerning a 
new agreement on the terms of movement of the Black Sea 
Fleet in and around Ukrainian territory.  Lutsenko demanded 
that Shlapak retract his statements and threatened to sue 
if he refuses. 
 
Political Parties Muted 
------------------------ 
 
8.  (U)  After initial statements criticizing President 
Yushchenko for allowing arms sales to Georgia, both the 
Party of Regions and Communist Party have remained 
relatively muted.  The Lytvyn Bloc, which advocates 
Ukrainian neutrality, released a statement urging Ukraine 
to give up its intentions to join NATO any time soon.  It 
advised the government to pause and rethink its foreign 
policy, especially in regards to the Black Sea area and the 
conflict in Ossetia.  The bloc stated that Ukraine should 
ultimately work towards an internationally supported 
neutral status.  Hanna Herman of the Party of Regions noted 
that while the PoR does not approve of all of Russia's 
actions, the government must carefully consider its policy 
and not take sides in the conflict.  Otherwise, it risked 
worsening its relations with Russia.  She stated that 
although President Yushchenko may have "looked the part" 
during his appearance on stage with Saakashvili on August 
11 in Tbilisi, he should refrain from "emotional" decisions 
to commit Ukraine to supporting Georgia while it has 
"enough problems of its own". 
 
MOD Denies Claim that Antiaircraft Systems Sourced from 
Ukraine 
---------------------------------------- 
9.  (U) The Ministry of Defense press service denied recent 
media reports that the Russian planes shot down over 
Georgia were downed by Ukrainian-made anti-aircraft 
systems.  The reports, which came out on August 13, quoted 
an unnamed Russian military official who allegedly told 
reporters that Russian aircraft were shot down by S-200 and 
TOR surface-to-air missiles sold to Georgia by Ukraine and 
 
operated by Ukrainians.  Ukraine's MoD called the report 
"absolutely false". 
 
10. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kyiv. 
 
PETTIT

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