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09KYIV395, STAFFDEL SOCHA HEARS CONCERNS ABOUT RUSSIA

February 27, 2009

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09KYIV395 2009-02-27 17:54 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO5360
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #0395/01 0581754
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 271754Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7388
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 000395 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/26/2019 
TAGS: PREL NATO PARM UP RS
SUBJECT: STAFFDEL SOCHA HEARS CONCERNS ABOUT RUSSIA 
 
Classified By: Political Counselor Colin Cleary.  Reasons 1.4 (b/d). 
 
Summary 
------- 
 
1. (C) Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffdel Socha 
visited Kyiv February 19 and 20 to explore questions of 
regional security, Euro-Atlantic integration, and the effects 
of the financial crisis.  Ukrainian officials emphasized 
concerns about Russia's more assertive foreign policy and the 
threat this poses to Ukraine.  The GOU is preparing its 
Annual National Program with NATO for submission by late 
April.  End Summary. 
 
NSDC: Don't Forget Ukraine 
-------------------------- 
 
2. (C) Senate Foreign Relations Committee senior staff member 
Christopher Socha (office of Jim DeMint, R, NC) visited Kyiv 
February 19 and 20.  He met with Acting Head of the 
International Relations Department of the National Security 
and Defense Council (NSDC), Volodomyr Ivanov.  Ivanov 
highlighted concerns about Russian assertiveness.  He 
wondered whether a "new model" of US-Russian relations would 
work to Ukraine's disadvantage.  He urged the US not to allow 
Ukraine to be used as a "bargaining chip," lest Ukraine slip 
into the Russian sphere.  Ivanov suggested that a new 
mechanism to manage US-Ukraine relations was needed.  He 
harkened back to the Kuchma-Gore Commission as a model.  The 
key thing is to maintain regular contacts at senior levels, 
he said. 
 
3. (C) Asked if the August war in Georgia had changed 
Ukrainians' perceptions of a Russian threat, Ivanov said poll 
numbers in Russia show that increasing numbers of Russians 
regard Ukraine as unfriendly, but there is not much evidence 
of a similar change in attitude among Ukrainians.  Within the 
Ukrainian government, however, Ivanov told Socha that 
awareness of Ukraine's vulnerability to potential Russian 
threats and to Russian influence has increased, along with 
concern about Russia's politicization of most aspects of its 
relationship with Ukraine.  Ivanov underlined the importance 
of the 1994 Bucharest Memorandum under which the U.S. and 
Russia gave guarantees to Ukraine in return for its 
de-nuclearization.  Ivanov said Ukraine needs a new 
guarantee.  The START Treaty should be extended or a new one 
put in its place, but Ukraine should be part of the process. 
 
 
4. (C) Turning to Crimea, Ivanov observed that the situation 
is not analogous to South Ossetia.  Crimea has not declared 
independence, is far bigger than South Ossetia, shares a 
history and strong economic ties with Ukraine, and has 
considerable public opinion that supports remaining in 
Ukraine.  Furthermore, he believes that the international 
reaction to any Russian military action in Crimea would be 
far greater and Russia knows that.  Ivanov noted that nearly 
all of Crimea's water and electricity come from Ukraine. 
Nonetheless, the destabilizing nature of Russia's massive 
propaganda campaign in Crimea and in eastern Ukraine is 
troubling.  Given the large number of retired Black Sea Fleet 
servicemen in Crimea, there is a ready market for Russian 
nationalist propaganda. 
 
5. (C) On Afghanistan, Ivanov said he believes Russia is 
serious about stability.  Instability in Afghanistan does not 
serve Russian interests.   That said, getting the US out of 
Manas was a great way to show who is boss in Central Asia. 
Ivanov said that Ukraine would not speak against a U.S. or 
NATO base in the region, including in the Caucasus, to supply 
Afganistan.  However, he predicted a very negative Russian 
reaction. 
 
Ministry of Defense: the Threat of Russian Influence 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
6. (C) At the Ministry of Defense, Socha explored defense 
reform issues, in particular the effects of Ukraine's budget 
problems, and the Ministry's views on Russia's role in the 
region with Military Policy and Strategic Planning Deputy 
Director Colonel Polischuk and Head of Euro-atlantic 
Integration Section Lt. Colonel Kovalenko.  Polischuk noted 
that exchange rate losses since September contributed to a 
fifty percent reduction in the MoD's budget.  In the current 
environment, MoD must focus on the most essential tasks: 
retaining key personnel and maintaining the current readiness 
levels of the joint Rapid Reaction forces.   He noted that 
President Yushchenko hopes to increase the number of 
Ukrainian troops in or contributing to operations in 
Afghanistan.  There may be reductions in levels in Kosovo, 
however.  Polishchuk stressed the importance at this time of 
maintaining NATO's full open door policy. 
 
KYIV 00000395  002 OF 002 
 
 
 
7. (C) Turning to Russia, Polischuk listed the following 
concerns at MoD: Russia's determination to maintain forces in 
Transnistria and Russian encouragement of a trilateral 
dialogue on Transnistria that excludes Ukraine, the EU, and 
the U.S.; recent Russian-Belarussian joint military exercises 
that did not exclude an invasion scenario; Russia's CFE 
withdrawal, which Ukraine recognizes as an unfriendly action; 
and the impending expiration
 of START and the unlikely chance 
that Russia would reconfirm the 1994 trilateral agreement, 
now that Ukraine is a non-nuclear state. 
 
8. (C) Polischuk went on to describe the map as MoD sees it: 
Russian forces within easy reach of Ukraine's southwest 
border (and Odessa) in Transnistria; Russian forces in 
Crimea; Russian forces along Ukraine's entire eastern border 
and much of its northern border; and Belarussian and/or 
Russian forces on Ukraine's north-northwest border.  This is, 
he continued, the environment that MoD will have in mind as 
it holds its Strategic Defense Review.  Ukraine will make 
every effort to conduct it according to international and 
NATO standards.  Summing up his comments, Polischuk noted 
that open conflict would split Ukraine in half and must be 
avoided.  However, in the Ministry's opinion, Russian 
influence on different parts of Ukrainian society is the 
biggest strategic threat to Ukraine's security. 
 
MFA on NATO 
----------- 
 
9. (C)  Ministry of Foreign Affairs Deputy Director for NATO 
affairs Vadym Prystaiko noted the difficulties that MFA has 
had in coordination the Annual National Program (ANP) within 
the GOU.  Prystaiko said that anti-NATO critics in the 
Ukrainian government demanded to know what Ukraine would get 
in return for continuing to alienate Russia when NATO had no 
intention of moving Ukraine toward membership in the near or 
mid-term. 
 
Vice PM's Chief of Staff on Financial Crisis, Yushchenko 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
 
10. (C)  Chief of Staff to Deputy Prime Minister Nemyria, 
Ihor Zhovka, told Socha the Prime Minister believes Ukraine 
can weather the financial crisis if it receives EBRD and 
World Bank sectoral project funding in addition to the IMF 
standby facility.  According to Zhovka, negotiations on the 
Association Agreement with the EU are well advanced. 
However, Yushchenko made a mistake by promising the 
Ukraine-EU Free Trade Agreement would be complete by the end 
of 2009.  This will not be possible. (Note: the FTA is an 
integral component of the Association Agreement.) 
 
11. (C) Zhovka went on to focus criticism on President 
Yushchenko's handling of Euro-Atlantic policy issues, blaming 
him for causing late submission of Ukraine's Annual Target 
Plan, which, Zhovka told Socha, was returned by Yushchenko to 
the Cabinet of Ministers with edits after the deadline in 
Brussels in late 2008.  However, the situation is now 
resolved.  Ukraine will now turn to its Annual National 
Program document, and should have a draft ready by late April. 
 
12.  (U) Staffdel Socha did not have an opportunity to clear 
this cable. 
TAYLOR

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