WASHINGTON – U.S. relations with and future support for Ukraine was the focus of two important gatherings in the nation’s capital held in recent days.
The first, a massive reception held September 12 in the very spacious hall of the U.S. Institute of Peace, was hosted by the Embassy of Ukraine to mark the 26th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence and the upcoming 26th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with the United States.
LVIV – The Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Center of the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) has opened its doors to visitors. The consecration and ceremonial opening were held on September 10 in Lviv. It was a celebration not only for the university community. Some 180 friends of UCU from the United States and Canada traveled thousands of miles to share the joy and exaltation and to personally experience this event, significant for all Ukraine. People, conversations, smiles, greetings and hugs filled all the spaces of the university campus – some looked at the Sheptytsky Center, some went to the University Church of the Holy Wisdom of God for morning prayer, and others met old friends near the UCU Collegium.
NEW YORK – President Petro Poroshenko and his wife, Maryna Poroshenko, met with leaders of the Ukrainian community and representatives of Crimean Tatar organizations in the United States. The presidential couple toured The Ukrainian Museum in New York. The head of state thanked foreign Ukrainians for their support and assistance. “Never in the history of the Ukrainian state, after the restoration of independence, has Ukraine felt such great assistance and unity of all Ukrainians in the world aimed to implement the tasks the Ukrainian state faces today,” he emphasized. Mr. Poroshenko recalled the creation of the new Ukrainian army, inter alia, with the assistance of Ukrainians in the diaspora.
Following is an excerpt from President Donald Trump’s address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 19. The text of his address was released by the White House, Office of the Press Secretary.
After a break prompted by war and economic collapse in 2014-2015, Ukraine restarted its privatization campaign in August 2017. The local privatization body, the State Property Fund (SPF), sold only five out of the state’s eight 25-percent stakes in the regional power-supply and generation companies that were put up for auction (Spfu.gov.ua, August 31). That was a late and weak start of this year’s campaign. The government raised only $115 million as a result, while the state budget law for this year had projected 17 billion hrv ($650 million U.S.) in privatization proceeds. The government is also dragging its feet vis-à-vis several other important privatizations.
After the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine failed, on the last day of its July session, to approve health reform bill No. 6327, a vote on the second reading awaits approval by the legislature. Addressing the Rada, on September 5, Speaker Andriy Parubiy cautiously mentioned the bill, along with pension, judicial and education reforms (Rada.gov.ua, September 5). Yet, while the Rada members are struggling to reach a consensus, health reform is strongly supported by the public. Rating Sociology Service’s “Nationwide Benchmark Health Care” survey, conducted July 26-August 2, revealed that the overall reform package No.
BRUSSELS – European Union lawmakers are pushing for an end to international data roaming charges between the EU and Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, a trust fund for Ukrainian investment, and possibly more sanctions on Russia ahead of a summit in Brussels in November.
I’m not surprised that Russia is raising concerns about [lethal defense weaponry]. They had an opportunity to move into Ukraine and take territory and annex Crimea without really much opposition. So obviously they’re going to raise concerns about Ukraine being better able to defend itself. Having been invaded and part of its territory taken it’s quite reasonable for Ukrainians to want to be better able to defend themselves. I’m not surprised that Russia is raising concerns about it. I think Russia was hoping that it would be able to keep Ukraine in its orbit as part of the Russian sphere of influence, the greater Russian identity.
LVIV – The Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) continued its 50th anniversary commemorations in Ukraine with Ukrainian Diaspora Days on August 27-29 organized in Lviv by its partner, the International Institute for Education, Culture and Diaspora Relations (IIECDR) of Lviv Polytechnic National University, and an organizing committee chaired by the head of the Lviv Oblast State Administration, Oleh Syniutka. The three-day program began with opening ceremonies on August 27 at the monument to Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky where hundreds gathered to hear greetings from the UWC President Eugene Czolij, Mr. Syniutka, Metropolitan Ihor Vozniak of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, Lviv Polytechnic National University Rector Yuriy Bobalo, Deputy Mayor Andrii Moskalenko of Lviv and IIECDR Director Iryna Kluchkovska. The opening ceremonies were followed by an evening prayer service at St. George Cathedral celebrated by Metropolitan Ihor. The evening culminated with a gala at Lviv Polytechnic National University during which the traveling exhibit “Ukrainian World Congress: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow” was officially launched.
On September 20, President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine made his case, again, for a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Ukraine’s war-torn east. The key word here is “again.” Mr. Poroshenko had suggested the use of U.N. peacekeepers in the region back in March of 2015, sending an official request to the U.N. secretary general and the president of the U.N. Security Council. But Russia has repeatedly blocked consideration of the Ukrainian proposal. Then, on September 5, President Vladimir Putin called for the deployment of peacekeepers to protect observers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) who have been monitoring the war in the Donbas. Certain quarters hailed that as some sort of breakthrough – that is, before they read the fine print.
Two years ago, on September 27-28, 2015, several hundred protesters (nearly 1,500 during the two days), including Ukrainians, Georgians, Belarusians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Circassians and others, gathered outside the United Nations Headquarters in New York to protest the arrival of President Vladimir Putin. It was the first time in 10 years that Mr. Putin had chosen to address the opening of a session of the U.N. General Assembly. Within the U.N. General Assembly main hall, a silent protest where activists, parliamentarians and diplomats unfurled a battle-scarred Ukrainian flag from the 2014 fighting in Ilovaisk, caused those protesters to be removed from the gallery. As the protesters were being escorted out of the main hall, the gathering of demonstrators outside chanted “Crimea is Ukraine,” and “Justice for MH17.”
During the street demonstration, protest leaders highlighted complaints against Mr. Putin and Russia, including Russia’s ongoing military conflicts in eight distinct zones, Mr. Putin’s willful violation of the U.N. Charter by invading Ukraine, and the growing list of political prisoners who are being held in many of Russia’s most infamous prisons. Organizing the protest, the American European Solidarity Council partnered with the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America to mobilize Ukrainians beyond New York City.
By calling for the introduction of United Nations peacekeepers in the Donbas, Vladimir Putin is pursuing a variety of goals foreign and domestic, Vitaly Portnikov says, but they do not include the restoration of Ukrainian sovereignty and peace in the region. Instead, this proposal like all of Mr. Putin’s in the past is intended to make that impossible. The Ukrainian commentator says that Mr. Putin is not interested in having U.N. peacekeepers make peace but rather to ensure that he will be able to continue his pursuit of plans to dominate Ukraine and prevent Kyiv from succeeding in focusing the attention of the international community on that fact (ru.espreso.tv/article/2017/09/06/myrotvorcy_po_putynsky). Already some in Moscow and the West are rushing to suggest that with this proposal Mr. Putin is changing course, Mr. Portnikov continues, but there is no reason for such hopes. Indeed, “a careful analysis of Putin’s declaration shows that [he] is interested” in maintaining Moscow’s control of the region and continuing to work to weaken Ukraine more generally.
Nikolay Mezhevich, a St. Petersburg professor who heads the Russian Association of Baltic Research, says that “for Russia the [three Baltic] countries should not exist” and that there are no prospects for an improvement in relations because the Baltic regimes can function only as anti-Russian actors. In an interview with Rubaltic’s Aleksandr Nosovich following a conference at the Kant Baltic Federal University in Kaliningrad on relations between Russia and Poland, Prof. Mezhevich says that relations with Warsaw, while bad now, can improve, but those with the Baltic countries never can (rubaltic.ru/article/politika-i-obshchestvo/19092017-s-polshey-u-rossii-vozmozhny-khoroshie-otnosheniya-s-litvoy-net-/). Russians and Poles, he continues, have “a common mentality: they are similar people with a common understanding of life. But “with Lithuania, normalization is impossible.” In any case, Prof. Mezhevich says, he does not expect to live to see it.
KYIV – President Petro Poroshenko on September 12 visited the training site of the Ukrainian national team that will participate in the Invictus Games – a world championship among soldiers and veterans who were wounded in the line of duty. Ukraine earned the right to take part in the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto on September 23-30 as a NATO ally in peacekeeping operations all over the world. The president called for support of the team of Ukrainian warriors who have proved themselves on the frontline and beyond. “I would like all Ukrainians all over the world to support our heroes. We will root for them, and they will fight for championships at the Invictus Games,” he said.
We are currently urging all Ukrainian American Veterans, and Ukrainian Americans, to contact their respective members of Congress to support the following amendment (which was passed by the Senate on September 18 by a vote of 89-8) to the still pending National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018. “Section 1250(b) of National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (Public Law 114-92; 126 Stat. 1068), as amended by section 1237(b) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (Public Law 114-328; 130 Stat. 2495), is further amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
“(12) Treatment of wounded Ukraine soldiers in the United States in medical treatment facilities through the Secretarial Designee Program, including transportation, lodging, meals and other appropriate non-medical support in connection with such treatment, as well as education and training for Ukrainian healthcare specialists such that they can provide continuing care and rehabilitation services for wounded Ukrainian soldiers.”
This provision is important because it will pay for treatment, per diems and other expenses associated with Ukrainian soldiers’ medical treatment. That this provision came to be merits sharing the actions of UAV members.