PHILADELPHIA – The Pennsylvania anthracite coal region town of Shenandoah is some 4,550 miles, as the crow flies, from the city of Lviv, in western Ukraine. And Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, is some 4,750 miles from Kyiv, the capital city of Ukraine. Yet despite time and distance, these towns and cities have a unique relationship, which has its beginning in the latter half of the 19th century.
As immigrants from Eastern Europe came to the United States in the 1880s, a large number of Ukrainians settled in the northeastern Pennsylvania coal region. In the Schuylkill County town of Shenandoah, these new arrivals to America established in 1884 the first Eastern Catholic Church in the United States. From this Ukrainian Greek-Catholic parish, the Church experienced rapid growth as more immigrants from Ukraine arrived and, with the arrival of Bishop Soter Ortynsky in 1907, Philadelphia became the home of this developing Church.
WASHINGTON – “As the U.S. Government’s dedicated center for countering foreign disinformation and propaganda, the Global Engagement Center (GEC) at the U.S. Department of State has a mandate to expose and counter threats from malign actors that utilize these tactics. In this field, Russia continues to be a leading threat.”
These are the opening sentences of the report issued by the U.S. Department of State in early August titled “Pillars of Russia’s Disinformation and Propaganda Ecosystem.” The State Department’s 70-page report is replete with details about the Russian propaganda machine, precisely enumerating and highlighting the effective use of disinformation.
CHICAGO – The long arm of the U.S. justice system once again has fixated on the upper echelons of Ukraine’s oligarchic class. Two moguls last week were accused of stealing billions of dollars from a Ukrainian bank they previously owned and laundering some of the proceeds by amassing assets in six states.
The U.S. Department of Justice, in a complaint filed on August 6, alleged that longtime Ukrainian business partners Ihor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Boholiubov had concealed at least $70 million of misappropriated funds in the United States by purchasing “5 million square feet of commercial real estate in Ohio, steel plants in Kentucky, West Virginia and Michigan, and cell-phone manufacturing plant in Illinois” as well as commercial real estate in Texas, “among others,” a news release stated.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, in a statement released on August 10, said the United States “is deeply concerned by the recent draft decree published by Russian authorities targeting U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM)-funded entities in Russia.”
“For more than 70 years, Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) have been vital sources of independent news and information for the people of Russia. This decree will impose new burdensome requirements that will further inhibit RFE/RL’s and VOA’s ability to operate within Russia, compounding the significant and undue restrictions these outlets already face.
NEW YORK – Ukrainian Running Club New York underscores that, while we can’t be together physically because of COVID-19 restrictions, we can be together and run together virtually.
Thus, Ukrainian Running Club New York is inviting all to participate in the Ukraine Virtual 5K Run/Walk. This event will unite Ukrainians around the world and is a great way to celebrate Ukraine’s 29th Independence Day in an active way.
The distance of the virtual run/walk is 5 kilometers (3.1 miles); participants can run or jog or walk anywhere in the world. Both adults and children are welcome.
WASHINGTON – On August 5, several months after President Donald Trump nominated him as the next U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Keith Dayton appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) for his nomination hearing.
The hearing was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic and included a panel of nominees, among them the ambassador-designate for Belarus. Members of the SFRC engaged with the prospective nominees via computer screens. Opening statements were followed by a question-and-answer period.
WASHINGTON – On July 30, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, joined Sens. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Chris Murphy (D-Conn.); John Barrasso (R-Wyo.); and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) to introduce the bipartisan Ukraine Security Partnership Act to provide security assistance and strategic support to Ukraine.
“I’m pleased to introduce this legislation which sends a clear message that America stands with the Ukrainian people in their struggle to secure a democratic, prosperous and independent future in the face of Russian aggression,” said Sen. Portman. “Our relationship with Ukraine is strategic, and this bill makes clear statements regarding a whole of government strategy focused on enhancing all elements of Ukrainian security. The United States Congress will continue to make sure the Ukrainian military has the capabilities it needs to defend its sovereign territory – on the land, sea and air.”
U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo released the following message on July 22.
The Welles Declaration is a proud moment in the history of U.S. foreign policy and friendship with the peoples of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Eighty years ago, the United States pointedly refused to recognize the illegal incorporation of the Baltic states into the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union’s criminal act was accomplished through the signing of secret protocols to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Nazi Germany in August 1939. Through decades of Soviet occupation and attempts at forced assimilation, the United States never ceased to recognize the sovereignty of the three Baltic states. Throughout those dark days, the peoples of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania never lost hope that the doors of the Soviet “prison of nations” would one day open; nor did the United States.
The following story captures one specific reporting assignment in the history of the Voice of America. It is noteworthy that these diaspora voices from 1996 are being preserved by the Ukrainian Museum-Archives in Cleveland. (https://www.umacleveland.org/research/voa/). Unfortunately, I am not aware of any recordings of the 1996 Republican convention. This article is a reminiscence of what Ukrainian Americans were telling this writer in Chicago in 1996 about politics, about independence and about the Fourth Wave of immigrants to the United States.
Last year the Ukrainian Museum-Archives (UMA) in Cleveland was successful in acquiring a collection of some 5,000 audio and video recordings of Voice of America (VOA) Ukrainian Service programming. The majority of the collection consists of television stories produced between 1993 and 2016. However, the collection also includes hundreds of audio recordings spanning several decades.
WASHINGTON – The United States has been without a full-fledged ambassador to Ukraine since May 2019, and this past May President Donald Trump nominated Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton (ret.) to be the next U.S. envoy in Kyiv.
Mr. Dayton is a retired lieutenant general of the U.S. Army and currently serves as the director of the George C. Marshall Center in Germany. His 40-year career has included positions within the Defense Intelligence Agency and as defense attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.