Support without protection: What forms the US policy on Ukraine

Author : Olena Hetmanchuk

Source : 112 Ukraine

Ukraine’s attitude to the US presidential election: Trump is not very desirable, and Clinton is not a panacea
22:00, 25 October 2016

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The American administration became the "lame duck", but the dialogue between the two countries since the beginning of summer is intense. General Line: to prevent another escalation in eastern Ukraine, to prevent political chaos and economic collapse of the rest of the country.

US attempted to break the deadlock implementation of the Minsk agreements. Although formally adhered to the key formula Kyiv "safety first, then elections" in this period was particularly evident: Washington and Kyiv differently assess the level of security that is needed to Ukraine has fulfilled the political part of the "Minsk".

Barack Obama is the first US president since 1991, who has never visited Ukraine. Ukrainian side to approach the presidential election in the United States as follows: Trump is not very desirable, but Clinton is not a panacea.

US investors are still waiting. The exception was production-handling system of Bunge Ukraine. In this area, the indicator for the US will be how will the privatization of Odesa Portside Plant.

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In recent months, relations between Ukraine and the United States defined the uneven number of factors and events. Including:

1) First Steps of Groisman’s government, including his visit to the US, and the beginning of prosecutor Lutsenko

2) US attempts to speed up the resolution of the conflict in eastern Ukraine,

3) Active phase of the campaign in the US where the major candidates touched on topics related to Ukraine,

4) Summit in Warsaw, as well as US assistance in security

5) Change the American ambassador to Ukraine.

Let us briefly examine each of these factors.

Rotation of power in Ukraine

It is no secret that the US initially is quite skeptical about the dismissal of Arseniy Yatseniuk from the post of prime minister and the appointment of Groisman who is loyal to President. But there is more skeptical attitude to the prospects of yet another parliamentary election.

By choosing "between two evils," Washington elected first.

Before appointment Groisman political, diplomatic and expert circles in the US it was felt as a policy that is less susceptible to reform than Yatsenyuk (even local, but real reform experience in the winery). No wonder for the first foreign visit of the new prime minister chose Washington (June 14-17) to personally share in the US capital to continue to reform.

Almost all the ministers reformers came to Washington with the Prime Minister.

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By government Groisman were so low expectations that in general his work in the US capital was estimated neutral, sometimes even positive, but definitely not better than work of Yatsenyuk.

Groisman has not managed to overcome the stereotype in the West that the government of Yatsenyuk on changes taking place, and his government came stagnation.

It is significant that Obama has not shown interest acquainted with Groisman during his visit to Washington. Not even talking about a separate, pre-scheduled meeting with the American president.

Earlier, Obama often beyond their scheduled meetings to connect with certain foreign Biden premieres. It was in his time with the Prime Minister Yatsenyuk when Obama went to a meeting with Biden Ukrainian guest, so it was with the prime ministers of Moldova and Georgia.

The government of Groisman visit to the United States was portrayed as the "trip billion." This is the third and final tranche of loan guarantees worth $ 1bn needed to provide subsidy on gas. It is symptomatic that same billion in the merit of his visit to the US president wrote Poroshenko.

Americans continue to show interest in the privatization of Odesa Portside Plant (OPP), which, according to the IMF, to be held in 2016.

Disappointment by Lutsenko

Even more symbolic was for American politicians name the new Attorney General. US highly personalized and, to some extent, demonized figure of former Attorney General Shokin.

He became the personification of the old system, the old Ukraine, as the Americans like to say. Vice President Biden recently publicly confirmed that Washington has linked the release Shokina with the release of one billion US loan guarantees.

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In the American administration immediately accepted the candidacy of Yuriy Lutsenko and recommended to refrain from idea to assign a policy for the post.

But Poroshenko assured Biden that the people from the inside of the judicial system are incapable of reforming it. Moreover, some US diplomats appeared even with enthusiasm. US partners had more than one conversation with Lutsenko about how he sees the reform of the Prosecutor General, and were glad purpose of the American Advisor, a former federal prosecutor, an American of Ukrainian descent Bogdan Vitvitsky responsible for creating General Inspection of GPU.

However, its role in the reform of the Prosecutor General and the level of exposure to it are extremely limited.

US and Donbas

Ukraine appreciates that the US is coordinating the implementation and preservation of sanctions against Russia. Americans are doing much more than is known publicly.

In September, the US extended sanctions, taking into account all the personalities and companies that gave them the Ukrainian side.

Americans also spend a great job in European capitals, giving reasons why Ukraine does much more for the implementation of the Minsk agreements than Russia.

Americans also help European partners to understand the real picture of what is happening in the area ATO, as they have more resources, including human. In the embassies of European countries (including Germany and France) there is not enough staff to do so.

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At the same time, the US was happy to get from Ukraine the draft law on elections in the occupied territories. This document lays down a tactic that Washington initially advised Ukraine - to be "constructive" partner and demonstrate a proactive attitude.

Overall, the Americans helped defend the position of Ukraine "safety first, then a political settlement." However, the formal and informal talks they just give clearly understand that Ukraine should be ready to fulfill the political part of the "Minsk" as soon as security conditions are met.

US believe that their negotiating track is a value added tax and Kyiv have nothing to worry about because the meetings were only four. Each time the Ukrainian side informed thoroughly before and after the negotiations.

Related: Ukraine is waging two wars - with Putin's occupiers and crime, - Lutsenko

Negotiators mainly discussed the settlement of one component - the so-called "security bubbles". Americans believe creating "security bubbles" (security zones to remove weapons) is an important step in the implementation of Minsk. This idea was proposed by Nuland. Americans suggested as the first security zones to choose Zolote, Petrovske, and Stanytsia Luhanska.

Ukrainian capital put this idea more skeptical: it is not clear who should protect these weapons storage facility and whether in this case generally guarantee security.

Rather, the answer exists, but it is not satisfied by Kyiv. It insists that it should be at least armed component of the OSCE.

Ukrainian side's alarming not only the format of negotiations (about Ukraine without Ukraine), but that Surkov was able to use the communication channel Nuland to promote their ideas and perhaps even manipulated. Argue that Nuland even started using some lexical phrases characteristic of earlier Surkov.

Paradoxically, - in the implementation of the Minsk agreements Kyiv trusts Berlin even more than Washington.

Related: Putin, Russian Security Council discuss Normandy talks

Ukraine and the elections in the US

Ukraine believes that the character of the cooperation with the future US president depends on who would win the elections.

But the fact that becoming an official candidate (that is, for example, having access to intelligence information), Trump further aggravated their rhetoric against Europe in general and in particular Ukraine - Kyiv alarmed. A peculiar red line was Trump’s statement on Crimea. De facto politician suggested that consider the recognition of the annexation of the peninsula.

That is, if the earlier Trump sounded like a pro, after claims on Crimea, he began to sound like a frankly anti-Ukrainian. Trump changed rhetoric, most observers attributed to the fact that in the election campaign, it was Paul Manafort, a former political strategist Yanukovych. But the question is whether Manafort other advisors Trump, directly or indirectly connected with, directly encouraged him to make such statements, or simply set up a campaign environment conducive to this kind of expression.

It is significant that the program of the Democratic Party did not have a particular item in Ukraine, but it has not found good resonance in Kyiv.

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A truly resonant was the resignation from office of Paul Manafort campaign manager Trump. The release in August, followed by how The New York Times, Associated Press published materials to "black accounting" Party of Regions, which has repeatedly figured surname Manafort and called lobbying structures in Washington, which he gave the money to get less critical attitude the government of Yanukovych after the arrest of Tymoshenko.

History of Manafort hardly added points Ukraine's reputation - rather, consolidated image deeply corrupt oligarchic country.

Just as numerous publications that Victor Pinchuk generously funded the Clinton Foundation (according to the Wall Street Journal - about $ 10 million), and it received some benefits not just as close to the Clintons family (one of the few business people in the world who visited their family holidays), but as the opportunity to work in Iran to bypass sanctions while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Most experts agree that Pinchuk is unlikely to be able to influence Clinton as president of Ukraine on the issue. But it is unlikely that his call will be ignored.

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Still an open question why Trump Poroshenko not accept the invitation to meet within the UN General Assembly. Ukrainian side insists that it only differences in schedules.

The meeting with Ukrainian leader Clinton received massive coverage by Poroshenko, but by presidential candidate US attention was rather modest. Even a twitter account, Clinton was no place for her, even though, according to participants in these talks, Hillary was well aware of what is happening in Ukraine.

Overall approach Ukraine to the US presidential election can be expressed as: Trump is not very desirable, but Clinton is not a panacea.

"We do not defend, but help"

The US position on the ban of Russian aggression in Europe comes around to this: we protect NATO countries, and help not NATO countries (including Ukraine) to protect themselves.

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The Americans have played an important role and to under the Warsaw Summit held NATO-Ukraine Commission at the level of state leaders. From Ukraine in return demanded reform plan to demonstrate in defense and security sector. This plan was the Strategic Defense Bulletin (SDB), presented at the headquarters of NATO defense minister and signed by the president.

The US side responds very well on the final version of the document. Of particular satisfaction was the fact that Ukraine has taken into account all the recommendations Corporation RAND, formerly painted in detail how the structure should look Defense.

Today the main challenge for the US is preparing Ukraine for the transition to civilian control over the army, which to be held in 2018.

"It is necessary that it was not just a costume change from military to civilian and substantially reform" - said an American diplomat.

United States granted Ukraine adviser to Defense Minister General John Abezayida, which should help, including the issue of transition to civilian control over the army and fight against corruption.

The importance of the steps the US side again reminded the Minister of Defense of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak, when he visited Washington in late September.

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This year Kyiv allocated US $ 335 million bilateral aid through the security, thereby increasing the total amount of aid through the security to more than $ 600 million in 2014.

A lot or a little - depends on which country to compare. Help USA Georgia last year was $ 30 million, Moldova - $ 11 million. But Israel over the next 10 years, the US will allocate 39 billion, almost 4 billion a year.

Aid for 2016 includes bilateral support in three main areas:

  • Training: 350 American instructors trained 5 battalions and one battalion of the Armed Forces special operations forces.
  • Equipment: kontrartyleriyski and kontrminometni radar, secure communications, tactical drones, medical equipment.
  • Counselors: they help to carry out defense reform, promoting social control, transparency and combating corruption.

USA continued to hold annual military exercises in Ukraine - ground Rapid Trident and Sea Breeze Sea (Sea Breeze).

Despite serious money spending US

not all like approach in Kyiv that Ukraine should help herself.

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Some representatives of the Ukrainian authorities believe that the US should do more, given the Budapest Memorandum.

In Kiev believe that the US could sign an agreement with Ukraine on a bilateral security line, which would reinforced Budapest Memorandum (discuss this subject with the new US administration, especially if Clinton wins).

The problem is that the US has no clear vision of how to continue to work with countries that are not NATO is unlikely to become members of NATO in the foreseeable future.

In September, the US House of Representatives passed a bill "On support stability and democracy in Ukraine" (STAND for Ukraine), which, among other things, the law prohibits the United States recognize the annexation of Crimea and Ukraine allows providing lethal weapons.

Ukraine should mobilize their informal lobby in Washington to push a bill in the Senate. However, it is unlikely that it will take the current form (not to mention that the president signed it).

The new US Ambassador to Ukraine

This summer had the traditional rotation of the American ambassador, Geoffrey R. Pyatt was replaced by Marie L. Yovanovitch, the first female US ambassador to Ukraine.

US Vice President publicly called Pyatt one of the best ambassadors, and some lawmakers believe that his work in Ukraine should get in textbooks for young diplomats in the form of practical recommendations on how to deal with the diplomatic crisis management.

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Geoffrey R. Pyatt managed to play a prominent role, despite the constant direct contact with the Ukrainian leadership of Vice President and Assistant Secretary of State.

Marie L. Yovanovitch is while receiving neutral feedbacks (which, for example, cannot be said about some key new ambassadors of European countries).

Unlike Pyatt, Yovanovitch arrived in Ukraine as a very well trained expert on the region. Its plus and advantage over, for example, the new EU ambassador speaks Russian. Thus it has no emotional anchor to the Revolution of dignity that was at the messengers who personally experienced the events in Kyiv.

It is possible that the relations between Ukraine and the United States over the past two years, Kyiv would remember with a great nostalgia.

Related: Poltorak, Yovanovitch discuss reforms in Ukrainian army

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