At the National Press Club (from left) are: Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst (partially hidden), Patriarch Filaret, Peter Voitsekhovsky (U.S.-Ukraine Foundation) and Patriarch Sviatoslav.

Religious leaders of Ukraine appeal to President Obama

WASHINGTON – Representatives of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations met with Obama administration officials on November 9, delivering a letter to the president calling for the U.S. government to play a greater role in delivering aid to the millions in Ukraine in dire need of humanitarian assistance as the season’s freezing temperatures set in. The All Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations members represent 85 percent of the citizens of Ukraine. Representing the council were Ukraine’s Chief Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, Ukrainian Orthodox Patriarch Filaret and Ukrainian Catholic Patriarch Sviatoslav. They met with the following representatives of President Obama’s administration: Dr. Charles Kupchan (special assistant to the president and senior director for European affairs), Melissa Rogers (special assistant to the president and executive director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships), Elizabeth Zentos (National Security Council director for Eastern Europe), Eric Ciaramella (NSC director for Ukraine), Christine Gottschalk (NSC director for humanitarian and crisis response), Laura Shultz (NSC director for global engagement), Jennifer Wistrand (policy advisor for Europe and Eurasia in the Secretary of State’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs) and M. Patrick Ellsworth (senior Ukraine policy advisor, U.S. State Department). They discussed the current humanitarian crisis and their appeal to President Obama to allow the National Guard Program and the Partnership for Peace program to airlift crucial humanitarian supplies to Ukraine for this winter season. Continue Reading

Two years after Euro-Maidan’s dispersal, still no criminal convictions of perpetrators

KYIV – It’s been two years since the launch of the Euro-Maidan protests in November 2013 that sent geopolitical tremors around the globe. The authorities’ crackdown on the three-month revolt that became known as the Revolution of Dignity claimed 121 lives and injured more than 2,000, including law enforcement officers. Yet not a single criminal conviction has come as a result of the violent events, according to a report on the Euro-Maidan investigations presented to reporters on November 17 by Serhii Horbatiuk, the head of the special investigations unit of the Procurator General’s Office (PGO) of Ukraine. Although 270 criminal cases have been opened against law enforcement officials – including judges, prosecutors and investigators – none of them have been punished, Mr. Horbatiuk indicated in his remarks, without saying so directly. Additionally, no one from the government of former President Viktor Yanukovych has been charged with a crime related to the Euro-Maidan. Continue Reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G-20 summit in Antalya, Turkey.

Trudeau carries on tough-talk tradition with Putin

OTTAWA – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made good on his election-campaign promise to confront “the bully that is Putin” when he had a brief conversation with the Russian President on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Antalya, Turkey. Mr. Trudeau said he told Vladimir Putin that Russia must end its “interference” in Ukraine. “I pointed out that although Canada has shifted its approach on a broad range of multilateral and international issues, we remain committed to the fact that Russia’s interference in Ukraine must cease, that we stand with the Ukrainian people and expect the President to engage fully in the Minsk peace process,” Mr. Trudeau told reporters on November 16. Last month while campaigning in Toronto to become Canada’s 23rd prime minister, he said that President Putin was “being dangerous with his interventions in Eastern Europe” in response to a reporter’s question about a Dutch-led investigation that concluded a Russian-made missile brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) in eastern Ukraine last year, killing 298 people, including one Canadian. “Canada needs to continue to stand strongly with the international community pushing back against the bully that is Vladimir Putin,” Mr. Trudeau said. Continue Reading

Minsk armistice implementation in Ukraine officially postponed

Meeting on November 6 in Berlin, the ministers of foreign affairs of the “Normandy” group (Russia, Germany, France, Ukraine) finally acknowledged that the Minsk armistice cannot be implemented by this year’s end, as originally intended. They agreed to postpone the implementation into next year, without setting another deadline. The Russian, German and French ministers resolved that the armistice (signed on February 12) shall remain in force as long as necessary, until its “full implementation.” The Ukrainian side could hardly object to this decision, although President Petro Poroshenko had repeatedly called for the “Minsk process” to be completed in 2015, not to be prolonged into 2016. Russia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov displayed equanimity bordering on satisfaction with this state of affairs in Berlin. At the meeting’s conclusion, Mr. Lavrov declared, “There is no doubt on anyone’s part that the Minsk agreements remain in force until fully carried out,” their implementation postponed into next year. Continue Reading


Biden to visit Ukraine in December

WASHINGTON – The White House announced November 13 that U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden will visit Ukraine in early December amid efforts to forge a lasting peace in the war-torn nation. Mr. Biden will meet with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and members of the Ukrainian Parliament, as well as non-governmental groups. “This will be Vice-President Biden’s fifth trip to Ukraine since taking office in 2009,” the White House said. Mr. Biden has spoken by telephone regularly with Messrs. Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk. Continue Reading

Putin and Lavrov again play the ethnic compatriot card

Since the 1990s, Moscow has repeatedly looked beyond Russia’s borders and pledged to come to the assistance of its allegedly victimized fellow Russian citizens, or ethnic Great Russians, or Russian speakers (all three categories apply whenever Moscow finds it desirable to play this card). Transnistria, Georgia and Ukraine each exemplifies the process by which the Russian Federation is prepared to use force to destabilize neighboring states, allegedly on the grounds that they are mistreating Russians. Moreover, Moscow subsidizes and otherwise supports a large number of organizations and movements inside all of its neighbors, from Kazakhstan to the Baltic, to ensure that the pot is kept boiling over the issue of the purported discrimination against these minority Russian communities and the Russian diaspora. Although these tactics emerged most violently in Ukraine, their origin goes back at least to Peter the Great, who legitimized his military campaigns against the Ottomans by claiming Russia was protecting the Orthodox subjects of the Ottoman Empire from discrimination. Such methods have continued to the present day. Continue Reading

Verkhovna Rada recognizes deportation of Crimean Tatars in 1944 as genocide

KYIV – The mass deportation of Crimean Tatars from their homeland in 1944 was genocide. That is according to a resolution of the Ukrainian Parliament, which was supported on November 12 by 245 national deputies present in the session hall. A Day of Remembrance for the victims of genocide of the Crimean Tatar people will be held annually on May 18. The resolution was adopted with an amendment suggested by Deputy Mykola Kniazhytsky. The final text of the resolution also says that “the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine states that the systemic pressure on the Crimean Tatar people, the repression of Ukrainian citizens on a national basis, the organization of ethnically and politically motivated prosecutions of the Crimean Tatars on the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine by the public authorities of the Russian Federation, starting from the date of temporary occupation, are a conscious policy of ethnocide of the Crimean Tatar people.”

In May 1944 about 200,000 Crimean Tatars, including women, children and the elderly, were taken from their homes during the night and loaded onto freight trains headed to Central Asia. Continue Reading

The scene at the airport in Yavoriv, where the U.S. delivered two counter-battery radar systems to Ukraine to bolster the country’s defense and internal security operations.

U.S. delivers two radar systems to Ukraine

YAVORIV, Ukraine – In response to a request from Ukraine, and as part of ongoing U.S. efforts to bolster Ukraine’s defense and internal security operations, on November 14 the United States delivered two AN/TPQ-36 radar systems to Ukraine at a ceremony in Yavoriv, Lviv Oblast. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko had the opportunity to review the equipment and was briefed by U.S. military personnel on its capabilities. The radar systems will help defend Ukrainian military personnel and civilians against rocket and artillery attacks, which have historically been the most lethal threat to Ukrainian personnel and civilians. The equipment was delivered on a rapid timeline – less than two months after President Barack Obama delegated to the secretary of state the authority to draw down up to $20 million in defense articles and services and up to $1.5 million in non-lethal commodities and services to provide these systems to Ukraine. The provision of these systems brings total U.S. security assistance committed to Ukraine in response to the crisis to more than $265 million since 2014. Continue Reading

Patriarch Filaret visits Washington, meets with Ukrainian community

WASHINGTON – Nearly 100 Ukrainian Americans attended a meet-and-greet on the morning of November 7 with Patriarch Filaret of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Capitol Hill during his visit to Washington for the Holodomor monument unveiling. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), who spoke during the meeting, welcomed the patriarch to Washington. Noting the author Timothy Snyder’s work “Bloodlands,” Rep. Kaptur noted its revelations about the history of the Holodomor and Ukraine. Eugene Czolij, president of the Ukrainian World Congress, recalled the poem “Footprints,” and the parallels between Ukraine’s struggle to be free. The patriarch, Mr. Czolij noted, is the moral authority of Ukraine, just as Brussels has become the political center for the Western world that includes Ukraine. Continue Reading

Harvard University historian Serhii Plokhy, the 68th laureate of the Antonovych Foundation award, shows the plaque he just received from the foundation’s president, Dr. Ihor Voyevidka, to the applause of those attending this year’s presentation at the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington.

Serhii Plokhy honored with Antonovych Award

WASHINGTON – Serhii Plokhy, the Mykhailo Hrushevsky Professor of Ukrainian History and director of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University, was honored with this year’s Omelan and Tatiana Antonovych Foundation award for his work as a historian and author of history books that insightfully analyze Ukraine’s past and present and shed light on what may be in store for its future. As Ukraine’s Ambassador Valeriy Chaly noted in his opening remarks at the November 14 event at the Embassy of Ukraine, Prof. Plokhy’s work “has helped us to understand better our contemporary reality and predict further developments.”

Ukraine’s roots are in Europe and so is its future, the ambassador said, adding: “A nation that forgets its past has no future.”

Prof. Plokhy is the 68th laureate of the Antonovych Award since the annual presentations were initiated in 1981, with the first award going to Ukrainian poet Vasyl Barka. The list of honorees also includes such renowned writers and scholars as Vasyl Stus, Lina Kostenko, Ivan Dzyuba and Zbigniew Brzezinski. This year’s award ceremony came one week after the official dedication of the Holodomor Memorial in Washington, for which the Antonovych Foundation had provided $100,000 two years ago to help finance its construction. As the president of the Antonovych Foundation, Dr. Ihor Voyevidka, pointed out in his presentation, among the earlier Antonovych laureates honored for their work about the 1932-1933 Famine-Genocide in Ukraine were Robert Conquest, author of “The Harvest of Sorrow,” in 1987, and Ukrainian historian Stanislav Kulchytsky and Italian historian Andrea Graziosi in 2011. Continue Reading