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March 31, 2009

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09KYIV573 2009-03-31 04:58 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

DE RUEHKV #0573/01 0900458
P 310458Z MAR 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KYIV 000573 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/20/2019 
REF: 2008 KYIV 1454 
Classified By: Political Counselor Colin Cleary for reasons 1.4(b,d) 
1. (C)  Despite public assertions by Ukrainian leaders to the 
contrary, Ukraine's relations with Romania remain strained 
following the International Court of Justice's February 3 
decision on the disputed Snake Island and surrounding 
territory.  The bilateral relationship lacks the concrete 
cooperation that defines Ukraine's relationship with Poland. 
Ukrainian officials contend that Romanian politicians are 
playing up the tension for political advantage in advance of 
presidential elections there.  President Basescu's planned 
February visit was scrapped when Romania demanded what 
Ukraine saw as unacceptable conditions to a trans-border 
travel agreement -- the centerpiece deliverable of the visit. 
 Ukraine in turn was surprised by the March 2 expulsion of 
two of its defense attaches.  Some in the GOU are concerned 
that Romania is pursuing a "Greater Romania" policy that 
would include parts of western Ukraine.  End Summary. 
Snake Island Decision 
2. (C) On February 3, the UN International Court of Justice 
(ICJ) unanimously ruled that Snake Island was a Ukrainian 
island, but that the surrounding sea shelf would be split 
between Romania and Ukraine at a line between their 
respective claims, with Ukraine gaining a 12 nautical mile 
exclusion zone around the island itself.  Both the GOU and 
the Romanian government have said they would accept the 
court's decision as final, and both have portrayed the 
decision as a victory for their respective sides.  Ukrainian 
political analysts Oleksiy Haran told us that it was unclear 
who won in the ICJ decision, but that opponents of Ukrainian 
western integration were pushing the idea that Ukraine lost. 
Bohdan Yaremenko, Deputy Head of the Presidential 
Secretariat's foreign policy section, told us that the GOU 
"does not like" the court's decision, but would work out a 
way to implement it. 
Relationship Lacking 
3. (C) Deputy Presidential Secretariat Head Goncharuk said 
that the ICJ decision paved the way for closer relations 
between the two countries.  Following a February visit by 
Deputy Foreign Minister Khandogiy to Bucharest, the MFA 
stressed Romania's readiness to assist Ukraine in its NATO 
aspirations.  Serhiy Horopakha, MFA desk officer for Romania, 
told us that, while Ukraine and Romania had an "active 
political dialogue," the GOU was "doing our best" to have a 
closer and more mutually beneficial relationship with 
Romania, "like we do with Hungary and Poland." 
4. (C) Despite senior MFA officials' public assertions that 
Romania would assist Ukraine in its preparations for NATO 
membership, Horopakha said that no real concrete bilateral 
work has been undertaken to assist Ukraine in its 
Euro-Atlantic integration aspirations, or on any other key 
bilateral or multilateral issue.  Horopakha added that, in 
addition to the Serpent Island issue, relations are hindered 
by the Bystroe Canal.  Natalya Bilotsir, a political analyst 
with the US-Ukraine Foundation, told us that the bilateral 
relationship is "neither close, nor strategic."  She said 
that Bucharest's approach to Ukraine changed once Romania 
gained EU membership, and that Romanian counterparts then 
"became overbearing." 
Defense Attaches Expelled 
5. (C) Boris Tarasyuk, Head of the Rada Committee on European 
Integration, said publicly that Romanian political leaders 
were using tension with Ukraine for political advantage in 
the lead-up to presidential elections there later this year. 
The Presidential Secretariat's Bohdan Yaremenko, echoing 
Tarasyuk, told us that the Romanian government was using the 
recent expulsion of two Ukrainian defense attaches to "gain 
points" with the electorate.  He said that they were seeking 
to portray Ukraine as "a danger to Romania."  Yaremenko said 
that the expulsion caught Ukraine "totally by surprise. 
According to the GOU's initial review, the attaches were 
acting legally, he claimed. 
Scuttled Presidential Visit 
KYIV 00000573  002 OF 002 
6. (C) A February 23 visit to Kyiv by President Basescu was 
scuttled at the last minute when the Romanian side demanded 
"new and unacceptable conditions" for an agreement on 
trans-border travel, according to Yaremenko.  The agreement 
was to be the centerpiece deliverable of the second meeting 
of the Ukraine-Romania Presidential Commission.  The 
Commission was first convened during an October 2007 
Yushchenko visit to Romania.  MFA desk officer Horopakha 
could not say when the Basescu visit would be re-scheduled, 
saying only that the two countries "needed more time to 
prepare" the visit.  Yaremenko, speaking more frankly, said 
that Romania pushed Ukraine to cancel the visit through its 
new demands on the trans-border travel agreement, then took 
five days to agree on a one-sentence joint statement 
ouncing the cancellation.  Yaremenko added that the two 
sides had tentatively scheduled a visit several times in 
2008, only to cancel each time (although not, in this case, 
after the visit had been announced). 
"Greater Romania" 
7. (C)  Political analyst Haran told us that Ukrainians were 
worried about Romanian activities in and designs on the 
Bukovina region, which includes parts of western Ukraine. 
Indeed, the Romanian diplomat and attache expelled in the tit 
for tat expulsions were serving in the Consulate in 
Chernivtsi Oblast, on the Romanian border, where Romania has 
been accused of agitating among ethnic Romanian civic 
8. (C)  Analyst Bilotsir told us that, at lower political 
levels and academic levels, Romania is pushing Ukraine to 
reclassify Romanian and Moldovan minority groups in Ukraine 
into one "Romanian Speaking" minority group.  She said that 
there are currently 250,000 self-identified Moldovans in 
Ukraine, and only 100,000 self-identified Romanians. 
Combining the two groups would result in a "Romanian 
Speaking" minority that outnumbered all other minority groups 
in Ukraine except Russians.  Yaremenko told us that the GOU 
was concerned that the current Romanian government seeks to 
follow a "Greater Romania" policy that would include parts of 
Ukraine, Hungary and Moldova.  He concluded that Ukraine's 
strained relationship with Romania was a serious issue, and 
said the GOU was "looking at options" to address the 
worsening relations. 
9. (C) While the ICJ Snake Island decision can potentially 
remove a central irritant in the Ukraine-Romania 
relationship, other territorial, economic and political 
differences remain between Kyiv and Bucharest.  Especially 
worrying to the GOU are perceptions that Bucharest remains 
intent on expanding its activities in the Bukovina region. 
These continued tensions will insure that Kyiv will rely on 
Poland and other neighbors, rather than Romania, as its 
guides toward further integration into European and 
Euro-Atlantic institutions. 




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