Kyiv awaits Trump’s decision to arm Ukraine as it celebrates 26 years of independence

KYIV – Since late July, Pentagon and State Department officials have said plans to arm Ukraine are ready and awaiting White House approval. Ukrainians hold high hopes for U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision, which they say will not only change the situation on the ground, but also send a strong signal to Moscow and give Ukrainian troops a much-needed morale boost. The arrival of the U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, and U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis in Kyiv to mark Ukraine’s 26 years of independence has led to speculation that a decision by the White House is imminent. In the plans devised by U.S. officials, Ukraine would be supplied with defensive lethal weapons. Currently being discussed are Javelin anti-tank missiles and anti-aircraft weapons, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Ukraine rejects claims it supplied technology to North Korea

KYIV – Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) has rejected reports that Kyiv supplied missile technology to North Korea, saying that such claims amounted to Russian disinformation. The council on August 22 published the results of its investigation into the alleged sale of missile technology, including the RD-250 rocket engine, from Ukrainian state-owned plant Pivdenmash to North Korea. Oleksandr Turchynov, the council’s chief, reported the results of the investigation to President Petro Poroshenko on August 22, the NSDC said in a post on its website. The NSDC concluded that Ukraine did not supply any missile technology to Pyongyang, Mr. Turchynov said in his report. The council has “unanimously come to the conclusion that Ukraine was not involved in the development of North Korea’s ballistic-missiles program,” Mr. Turchynov said.

Victoria Cross recipient remembered in Ukraine

OTTAWA – Cpl. Filip Konowal, a Ukrainian Canadian whose valor at the Battle of Hill 70 near Lens, France, in August 1917 earned him the highest medal of the British Empire, the Victoria Cross, is being remembered in Kyiv, the capital city of Ukraine, thanks to the efforts of the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association (www.uccla.ca) and their Ukrainian partners on this project, Free People (Vilni Lyudy). From August 15 to September 15, a billboard has been erected to honor the only Ukrainian ever distinguished with the Victoria Cross. UCCLA’s director of research, Dr Lubomyr Luciuk, observed: “On August 22, 2017, the Battle of Hill 70 memorial will be publicly unveiled, marking the 100th anniversary of that struggle. There, thanks to the generosity of a number of Ukrainian Canadian donors, including the Temerty Family Foundation, the Ihnatowycz Family Foundation and the Petro Jacyk Education Foundation, a central pathway has been named the Konowal Walk. We wanted to ensure this hero of the Great War would also be remembered in Ukraine.

Russian citizenship for Ukrainians: Addressing Russia’s population decline

The State Duma of the Russian Federation passed an amendment to its citizenship laws on July 12, easing the procedure for Ukrainians to acquire Russian citizenship. According to the new amendment, those wishing to acquire Russian citizenship would no longer need to provide Russian authorities with paper certification from Kyiv that they were abdicating their Ukrainian citizenship. Such a document was difficult to obtain. Under the new legal guidelines, an individual would need to only submit a notarized copy of the abdication application to the Russian Migration Service (Interfax, July 13). On July 18, however, President Vladimir Putin rejected the Parliament’s citizenship bill (Kommersant, July 18).

Moscow cannot afford a South Ossetian strategy in Ukraine’s Donbas

Vladimir Putin has slammed the brakes on a much-ballyhooed Duma proposal to offer Ukrainians in the occupied Donbas region Russian citizenship on a simplified basis (Kommersant, July 18). Almost certainly, the initiative was abandoned because, if these individuals were to obtain that status – as the residents of the breakaway “republic” of South Ossetia did almost a decade ago, Moscow would have to assume responsibility for them. And this is something the Kremlin clearly recognizes it cannot presently afford. Numerous Duma members and others in Russia who support this idea see a simplified path to Russian citizenship as opening the way for the ultimate annexation of Donbas. But many in the Kremlin recognize such an outcome would be extremely costly financially and politically.

Poll: Majority want Donbas to remain in Ukraine

KYIV – A recent poll by the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Center for Insights in Survey Research reveals that an overwhelming majority of Ukrainians think the war-torn Donbas region should remain part of Ukraine. The survey contained an over-sample of respondents from the Ukrainian-controlled areas of the Donbas, a majority of whom also affirmed their wish for the entire region to stay in Ukraine. “Three years into the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has claimed the lives of 10,000 and displaced more than 1.7 million people, Ukrainians are resolute in their desire to restore their territorial integrity and their rejection of the illegal occupation by Russian-backed separatists,” said IRI Regional Director for Eurasia Stephen Nix. “This data is critical, as it suggests that the Ukrainian people will not accept the division of their country.”

A combined 80 percent of Ukrainians nationwide and a combined 73 percent in the Donbas region believe that separatist-controlled areas of the Donbas should remain under Ukrainian control. Only 6 percent nationwide and 4 percent in the Donbas believe that these areas should either be separated from Ukraine or become part of Russia.

Re “Tracing Success of North Korea to Ukraine Plant” (front page, August 14): I was alarmed by suggestions in your article that Ukraine may have supplied rocket technology to North Korea. The article suggests that North Korea has been using an engine called the RD-250, then confirmed that the RD-250 was developed in Russia, and then made the leap that the technology leakage came from Ukraine. But no evidence has been provided to support the claims.

As Ukraine’s foreign minister and a trained aerophysicist, I want to say that my country could not have been involved in aiding North Korea’s missile program. The production lines for building these types of rockets in Ukraine were decommissioned in 1992. The expertise cannot be carried in the heads of rogue scientists.

UWC president in Europe for meetings, celebrations of organization’s 50th anniversary

TORONTO – The president of the Ukrainian World Congress, Eugene Czolij, traveled to Germany, Switzerland, Poland and the Czech Republic at the end of June and in July to meet with high-ranking state officials and representatives of civil society, and to participate in commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the UWC. The UWC – the international coordinating body for Ukrainian communities in the diaspora – was founded in 1967 in New York as the World Congress of Free Ukrainians. Today it represents the interests of over 20 million Ukrainians and has ties with Ukrainians in 53 countries. Working visit to Germany

Mr. Czolij began a working visit to Germany, on June 30. In Munich, he met with the president of the Bavarian Parliament, Barbara Stamm, and high-ranking officials of Bavaria to discuss support for Ukraine and securing peace and stability in Europe.

Rhode Island hosts 70th Ukrainian Orthodox League convention

WOONSOCKET/WARWICK, R.I. – Nearly 150 delegates, including clergy and laypersons, from various chapters from parishes across the country gathered here on July 26-30 for the 70th Convention of the Ukrainian Orthodox League (UOL) of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A. (UOC-U.S.A.), This year’s hosts were the Senior UOL Chapter and all the parishioners of Holy Archangel Michael Ukrainian Orthodox Parish of Woonsocket, R.I.

Metropolitan Antony and Archbishop Daniel actively participated in the daily sessions of the convention, of one of the oldest central organizations of the UOC-U.S.A.

The convention was opened with a prayer that was offered before the first business session was called to order on the evening of July 26. Following the invocation offered by Metropolitan Antony, the “Pledge of Allegiance” to the U.S. flag was recited and delegates sang the U.S. national anthem. Opening remarks and greetings were expressed by UOL National Executive Board Presidents John Holowko (Senior UOL) and Orest Mahlay (Junior UOL). The convention’s spiritual advisor, the Rev. Boris Kroner, and Senior Convention Committee Chairman Cindy Charest welcomed all the guests to Rhode Island and offered the full services and assistance of the hosting UOL chapter. The first formal session of the day concluded with the approval of the agenda, minutes, financial records and audit reports.

Tell us all about it!

In our annual supplement called “A Ukrainian Summer” (published this year on May 7), we listed 51 – yes, fifty-one – Ukrainian festivals across North America, from Vernon, British Columbia, and San Diego in the west to Ottawa and Lindenhurst, N.Y., in the east. It was an impressive affirmation of at least a portion of the multi-faceted activities conducted by our Ukrainian communities in the United States and Canada. And the listing covered much more than just the summer months: the events extended from May through October – what is widely considered to be festival season. (By the way, if your festival was not listed, well, you missed a great opportunity. So, remember our summer issue for next year.