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09KYIV1728, ASD VERSHBOW IN KYIV: UKRAINIANS CONCERNED ABOUT

October 5, 2009

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09KYIV1728 2009-10-05 16:14 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKV #1728/01 2781614
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 051614Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8535
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L KYIV 001728 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/05/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR UP
SUBJECT: ASD VERSHBOW IN KYIV: UKRAINIANS CONCERNED ABOUT 
RUSSIAN THREAT; CALM ON MISSILE DEFENSE 
 
Classified By: Political Counselor Colin Cleary, reasons 1.4 b/d 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY:  Assistant Secretary of Defense for 
International Security Affairs, Ambassador Alexander 
Vershbow, led the U.S. delegation to the U.S.-Ukraine 
Bilateral Defense Consultations (BDC) in Kyiv September 
28-29.  In a series of bilateral meetings and engagements 
with media and academic experts, ASD Vershbow heard repeated 
Ukrainian concerns about the threat from Russia, a Ukrainian 
security vacuum, and Ukraine's desire for a security 
guarantee from the United States.   Ukrainian leaders 
reiterated requests for visible U.S. engagement, and pressed 
for a higher-level inauguration of the Ukraine-U.S. 
Commission this fall.  Ukrainian leaders and defense experts 
reacted calmly to explanations of the Administration's 
approach on missile defense, and were reassured that it did 
not represent any reduced commitment to Central and Eastern 
Europe.  END SUMMARY. 
 
----------------------------------- 
Acting Defense Minister Ivashchenko 
----------------------------------- 
 
2.  (SBU) Meeting with Ukrainian Acting Minister of Defense 
Valeriy Ivashchenko on September 28, ASD Vershbow reaffirmed 
the Administration's message of support for Ukraine, 
underscored Ukraine's importance as a strategic partner, and 
commended the defense relationship, highlighting Ukraine's 
contributions to NATO and coalition operations in Iraq, 
Afghanistan and Kosovo.  ASD Vershbow stressed the need for 
Ukraine to stay on track with defense reform efforts, and 
expressed disappointment with cancellation of the Sea Breeze 
and Rapid Trident exercises due to the Rada's inability to 
pass the foreign exercises bill, as well as the last-minute 
cancellation of Chief of Defense (CHOD) General Kyrychenko's 
planned visit to the United States in mid-September. Vershbow 
explained that the new U.S. European missile defense plan 
would be more effective than the previous approach and 
continue to include sites in Central and Eastern Europe. 
 
3.  (SBU) Ivaschenko reaffirmed Ukraine's desire to integrate 
into Euro-Atlantic structures and institutions, and he 
stressed the importance of U.S. support for Ukraine's NATO 
aspirations.  He said that Russia's attempts to dominate the 
post-Soviet space and the fact that Ukraine had been left out 
of a collective security system were reasons why Ukraine 
required that the security assurance provided in the 1994 
Budapest Memorandum become legally binding.  He underscored 
the MoD's commitment to make the Ukrainian armed forces 
interoperable with NATO.  Acting Minister Ivashchenko hoped 
for further bilateral cooperation, and lamented cancellation 
of the exercises.  Regarding the CHOD visit, he said the 
visit had not been cancelled; the dates had just been 
postponed because of pressing business at home. 
 
----------------------------------------- 
Kyrychenko: Lamenting defense budget cuts 
----------------------------------------- 
 
4. (C) ASD Vershbow met later in the day with the Ukrainian Chief 
of Defense, who presented a grim picture of Ukraine's defense 
programs.  A reduced budget allocating only five million 
dollars for force modernization has left few resources 
available for training or exercises.  Kyrychenko said that he 
had briefed Prime Minister Tymoshenko on MoD budget woes and 
that his staff had prepared another brief for an upcoming 
Parliamentary hearing, but he did not appear optimistic. 
Perhaps surprisingly, he also said that the MoD is 
considering bolstering participation not only in Active 
Endeavor but also in Afghanistan, where, he suggested, 
Ukraine might help to train the Afghan National Army. 
 
5.(C) ASD Vershbow observed that in light of MoD budget 
constraints, bilateral and NATO exercises offered a 
particularly important training opportunity for the Ukrainian 
military.  At the suggestion of USEMB Kyiv, he noted that 
steps such as enhanced MoD English language training and the 
selection of a progressive president of Ukraine's National 
Defense University would further strengthen U.S. efforts to 
assist Ukrainian MoD reforms.  Vershbow registered regret at 
the cancellation of Kyrychenko's visit, recognizing that 
responsibility lay with Ukraine's political, rather than 
military, leadership. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
Bohatyrova:  Alarms About Russia, Security Vacuum 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
6. (C) National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) Secretary 
Raisa Bohatyrova, joined by former Foreign Minister Ohryzko, 
 
stressed to ASD Vershbow September 29 that Ukraine finds 
itself in a security vacuum and is "insecure in its borders." 
 With Ukraine under intense pressure from Russia, any 
appearance of U.S. disengagement from the region will 
embolden Russia further.  Bohatyrova underlined that Russia 
is directly interfering in Ukraine's internal political 
affairs.  This is evident not only in Medvedev's August 
letter but in Russian government support for pro-separat
ist 
NGOs in Crimea and elsewhere.  She also said (contrary to all 
polls) that President Yushchenko has a good chance to be 
reelected.  Referring to recently published analysis by 
former National Security Advisor Horbulin, Bohatryova said 
she believes Russian intelligence has devised plans for the 
dismemberment of Ukraine. 
 
7. (C) Bohatyrova argued that as a result of the security 
vacuum, Ukraine needs a legally binding bilateral security 
guarantee from the Unitet7Q\R_ykraine supports 
improved U.S.-Russian relations, but not at 
the expense of Ukraine's security.  The GOU is concerned that 
the U.S. is "forgetting" about Ukraine.  Ukraine could pass 
"the point of no return" and fall into the Russian sphere. 
 
8. (C) ASD Vershbow stressed, as he did at all meetings 
during this visit, that he was in Ukraine to underline the 
themes which Vice President Biden outlined in his July speech 
in Kyiv: no spheres of influence and strong support for the 
right of all states to seek the security alliance of their 
own choosing.  ASD Vershbow underlined that the 
Administration's missile defense decision was in no way an 
abandonment of missile defense or of Central and Eastern 
Europe; it was a more robust system that would defend all of 
NATO and would likely include elements in Poland and other 
CEE countries.  Ukraine has the Administration's full 
attention, Vershbow stressed.  He lamented that Ukraine had 
undermined mil-to-mil cooperation, noting the Rada's 
inability to approve foreign exercises, such as Sea Breeze, 
and the low defense budget.  He stressed that the U.S. 
remains fully committed to Ukraine's territorial integrity 
and sovereignty. 
 
9. (C) On security guarantees, ASD Vershbow said that the 
U.S. regarded the 1994 Budapest memorandum to be still in 
effect, regardless of the expiration of START in December. 
We expect Russia to abide by the assurances in 
the memorandum, as he had stated publicly that afternoon in a 
speech to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Diplomatic 
Academy.  Russia is legally bound to respect Ukraine's 
territorial integrity through a number of agreements as well. 
 While such documents are important, just as important is 
building up Ukraine's own strength and thickening Ukraine's 
ties with the U.S. and other Western countries, so as to 
establish "facts on the ground."  That is why enhancing our 
military and security cooperation in concrete ways is 
critical.  In addition, the Budapest memorandum and the 
NATO-Ukraine Charter contained provisions for consultation in 
times of crisis.  Responding, Former FM Ohryzko asked, 
rhetorically, whether such consultations would matter if 
Russian forces were to take over Crimea.  He noted that 
Russia had violated its commitments in attacking Georgia and 
had not been punished for this. 
 
10. (C) Bohatyrova appealed for high-level U.S. engagement 
with Ukraine.  She reiterated Ukraine's invitation for 
Secretary Clinton to visit.  Senior visits would demonstrate 
U.S. commitment and Russia would notice.   She lamented that 
there was still no agreement on the structure and level of 
the U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Partnership Commission.  A 
lower-level meeting would send the wrong signal, as did the 
delay in the announcement of the next U.S. Ambassador.  (In a 
dinner with Acting Foreign Minister Khandogiy and a lunch 
with Ukrainian Ambassador to Russia Hryshchenko, Vershbow 
heard similar appeals for raising the level of the SPC to the 
Foreign Minister level, if only in name.  Hryshchenko, who is 
also Deputy NSDC Secretary, said he would rather postpone the 
first SPC meeting than hold it at the Asstistant 
Secretary/Deputy FM level.) 
 
----------------------- 
Horbulin: Russia Threat 
----------------------- 
 
11. (C) ASD Vershbow met September 28 with Volodymyr 
Horbulin, Director of the Institute of National Security 
Issues and formerly National Security Advisor to President 
Kuchma.  On missile defense, ASD Vershbow emphasized that the 
Administration's decision constituted neither a concession to 
 
Russia nor U.S. disengagement from Central Europe.  Rather, 
the new U.S. approach will mean a more effective system that 
will be operational sooner, and it will incorporate new 
sensor technology that makes unnecessary the radar originally 
slated for the Czech Republic.  It could still have important 
elements located in Poland, if the Poles agree.  At the same 
time, the system posed no threat to Russia and could serve as 
the basis for cooperation with Moscow. 
 
12. (C) Horbulin noted the political risk that the Polish and 
Czech governments had taken by supporting deployment on their 
territory, adding that the rollout of the U.S. decision was 
politically damaging to the GOP and GOCR even if did not 
leave the Central Europeans any weaker militarily. He argued 
that a Patriot-3 deployment to Poland would soften the 
political blow, adding that Ukrainian early-warning radar 
sites (Sevastopol and Mukachevo) could be modernized and 
plugged into a comprehensive European missile-defense system. 
 ASD Vershbow indicated that there might be opportunities for 
Ukraine to participate in MD architecture; Horbulin replied 
that if so, it would be the most substantive step in the 
history of U.S.-NATO-Ukraine cooperation.  Vershbow undertook 
to raise Horbulin's radar idea with the Missile Defense 
Agency. 
 
13.  (C) Vershbow underscored U.S. disappointment with the 
cancellation of Sea Breeze and other exercises, the 
last-minute cancellation of the Ukrainian CHOD's planned 
visit to the U.S. in mid-September, and the cutting of the 
Ukrainian defense budget to "dangerous levels."  Horbulin 
blamed the cancellation of Sea Breeze on the presidential 
election campaign; with 70 percent of Ukrainians currently 
opposed to NATO membership, the Rada could not demonstrate 
the "political wisdom" to approve the exercise.  The 
country's financial difficulties were only a pretext, he 
said, adding that this situation is, indeed, only temporary. 
He did not know the reason for canceling the CHOD's visit. 
Ukraine's larger problem regarding security, he concluded, is 
the lack of political consensus and the imbalance between the 
branches of government. 
 
14.  (C) Asked what to expect in the near term from Russia 
regarding the Crimea and the Black Sea Fleet, Horbulin 
asserted that no conceivable Ukrainian parliament would 
ratify an amendment to the constitution that would allow the 
basing of the Russian Black Sea Fleet to continue beyond 
2017.  Whoever becomes the next Ukrainian president in 2010, 
this issue will be at the top of the agenda, and will loom 
still larger for the president elected in 2015. Although the 
Black Sea Fleet has lost its strategic importance, it 
nevertheless retains great significance for Russia's ability 
to influence Ukraine, asserted Horbulin. 
 
15.  (C) The situation is complicated by (a) the 30,000 
people in Sevastopol whose livelihoods depend on the presence 
of the Russian Black Sea Fleet; (b) the large number of 
Soviet-era naval retirees who live in the Crimea; and (c) the 
demands of the 300,000-strong Crimean Tatar community for 
land and restitution, demands opposed by the Russian-speaking 
majority.  Tensions are likely to intensify around 2012, as 
the policies of the new Ukrainian president, as well as 
Russian plans (or lack thereof) for relocation, become clear. 
Vershbow observed that the Russians appear to be doing 
little to plan for relocation, and apparently hope they will 
be able to stay in Sevastopol indefinitely.  He added that 
the U.S. would like to work with Ukraine to create economic 
opportunities for Crimea and especially Sevastopol, as a way 
of demonstrating to the people that the peninsula has a 
brighter future with Ukraine than with Russia. 
 
16.  (C) ASD Vershbow emphasized that there is no loss of 
interest in Ukraine on the part of the new U.S. 
administration; in fact, we hope to raise the profile of our 
strategic dialogue by convening the first meeting of our 
Strategic Partnership Commission in late October or early 
November.  Horbulin expressed appreciation for this effort, 
recalling the utility of the Gore-Kuchma Commission on which 
he had worked so intensively during the 1990s.  He added that 
it would be helpful to get a new U.S. ambassador to Kyiv 
before the new Russian Ambassador arrives. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------------ 
Tarasyuk: Operationalize Budapest consultations provision 
--------------------------------------------- ------------ 
 
17.  (C) Calling on two-time Foreign Minister, prominent 
Orange Revolution leader, and Head of the Rada Committee on 
European Integration Boris Tarasyuk, ASD Vershbow heard his 
views on EU-Ukraine relations, security assurances, defense 
policy, and Georgia.  Tarasyuk frankly assessed that ongoing 
 
negotiations on an EU Association Agreement would end late in 
2010, noting that successful conclusion of a free trade 
agreement is a prerequisite.  He admitted that, while a 
membership perspective for Ukraine is not entirely off the 
table, internal developments in Ukraine are not helping 
Ukraine's case with Europe. Tarasyuk criticized what he 
called a lack of common strategic vision in Brussels and a 
distaste for geopolitics, which he said leaves the EU 
vulnerable to Russian tactics and self-serving policies in 
capitals. 
 
18.  (C) Tarasyuk opined that Budapest Memorandum Article 6 
provisions for consultation ought to have been invoked in the 
past, including for the economic intimidation inherent in 
recent natural "gas wars" between Russia and Ukraine.  The 
ASD responded that, while the Memorandum does not stipulate a 
procedural mechanism to initiate such consultations, this 
idea was a reasonable one. 
 
19 (C) Tarasyuk criticized Washington's and Europe's reaction 
to the Georgia-Russia war in 2008, in particular for the 
cease-fire's failure to reiterate support for Georgia's 
territorial integrity, and more generally for leaving the 
door open to possible aggressive Russian behavior.  Vershbow 
underscored that U.S. and international support for Georgian 
territorial integrity has been reiterated strongly on every 
possible occasion, and most 
recently at the UN.  The ASD noted that preventive actions 
will be the best way to deny Russia any new opportunities for 
intimidation or aggression. 
 
---------------------------------------- 
Hrytsenko: Lack of Leadership in Kyiv 
---------------------------------------- 
 
20.  (C) In a meeting with ASD Vershbow September 28, Rada 
Defense Committee Chair, Former Defense Minister and 
(long-shot) Presidential candidate Anatoliy Hrytsenko 
appeared only minimally interested in details of the new U.S. 
missile defense plan.  After quick questions about timelines, 
components and their capabilities, Hrytsenko criticized the 
handling of missile strategy in Central Europe, claiming that 
a lack of transparency ultimately led to confusion about the 
United States' true intentions.  As a result, he said, the 
strategy was doomed to fail, and the fact that the ASD needed 
to spend time explaining the current U.S. strategy was 
evidence of these shortcomings. 
 
21.  (C) Hrytsenko then went on to express strong negative 
opinions about Ukraine's short-term prospects of joining 
either NATO or the EU, declaring that the Ukrainian people 
want domestic issues to be resolved before the commitment of 
resources, time and money to foreign policy issues.  He 
predicted that Ukraine would not be prepared to address these 
issues until after the presidential elections.  Only a strong 
president -- namely, himself -- would be capable of effecting 
sufficient change in the military to inspire Ukrainians' 
confidence in their leaders and the stability needed on the 
home front to pursue NATO and EU integration. 
 
------------------------------------------- 
Media, think tank, and academic engagement 
------------------------------------------- 
 
22. (C) U.S. Embassy Kyiv organized a roundtable including 
participants with a range of perspectives, including Leonid 
Kozhara, a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign 
Affairs for the Party of Regions, Oleh Kokoshynsky of the 
Atlantic Council of Ukraine, Mykola Sunguroskyi of the 
Razumkov Center, and Oleksandr Sushko of the Euro-Atlantic 
Cooperation Institute.  Kozhara emphasized that Kyiv needed 
to repair its relationship with Moscow, further noting that 
if the NATO mission was the war on terror, Ukraine was 
uninterested in attracting potential terrorist attacks. Other 
participants engaged with ASD Vershbow on strategies for 
navigating Ukraine's regional security concerns, including 
one proposal for the establishment of an international 
maritime base for counter-piracy in Sevastopol following the 
2017 exit of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. 
 
 
23. (C) A widely-publicized address at Ukraine's Diplomatic 
Academy and interviews with two media outlets -- Ukrainska 
Pravda and the television station Inter -- afforded 
opportunities to clarify U.S. missile defense plans and 
underscore the U.S commitment to Ukraine's security, 
independence, and territorial integrity.  Questions focused 
on Ukraine's prospects for NATO accession, U.S reactions to 
the EU's Tagliavani report on the Russia-Georgia war, the 
likelihood of a bilateral security guarantee from the United 
 
States, and implications of the recent U.S. "Russia reset" 
policy. Responding, ASD Vershbow emphasized the NATO 
declaration at Bucharest and U.S. position that there are 
multiple paths to NATO entry.  He declined to comment on the 
(at that time, unreleased) EU report, but called for Russian 
compliance with the Medvedev-Sarkozy agreement, reiterated 
the U.S. expectation that a
ll signatories adhere to Articles 
1 and 2 of 1994 Budapest Memorandum, and confirmed that any 
"reset" with Russia will not come at the expense of U.S. friends, 
allies and partners in the region. 
 
24. (U) ASD Vershbow has cleared this cable. 
PETTIT

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