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NEW DOCUMENTARY TELLS THE STORY OF UKRAINIANS' ROLE IN CANADA'S WAR EFFORTS

National Post Staff

November 10, 2020

 

The late Ukrainian Canadian poet Michael Gowda, who in 1907 enlisted in the Canadian Home Guard and sought to create a Ukrainian regiment to serve the British army, once wrote a series of verses addressed directly to his new homeland.

 

Written from the perspective of an immigrant allowed to live in Canada primarily to colonize the prairie, as 170,000 Ukrainians did between 1891 and 1914, “To Canada” describes these new Canadians as in some sense merely “holders of thy soil.” To be recognized as fully Canadian, their people would have to fight and even die for Canada. It would take a blood sacrifice for their children to one day be “free to call thee theirs,” as the poem reads.

 

It is an outmoded vision of Canadian citizenship but no less powerful for the cultural change that has occurred since then, as Ukrainian Canadians established themselves in Canada over many generations, with veterans of every war Canada has fought.

 

Award-winning Winnipeg filmmaker John Paskievich said this poem “proved prophetic.” The sacrifice was real, and the sense of belonging was finally ensured.

 

His new documentary, A Canadian War Story, describes Ukrainian Canadians’ contribution to Canada’s war efforts. Working for the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Centre, he and other researchers tracked down details of veterans in Legion Halls and various archives, and gave voice to old correspondences.

 

As a story of racist exclusion giving way to acceptance, the film also offers a chance to reflect on the ethnic diversity of military service, especially from an ethnicity of Canadians who, like Japanese Canadians, were once persecuted as enemy aliens, even interned in work camps.

 

For Ukrainian Canadians in the late 19th and early 20th century, many of whom immigrated with the promise of title to a quarter section if they could farm it, resentment and suspicion were the norm. The film quotes then Prime Minister Mackenzie Bowell referring to the consternation felt by established Canadians as trainloads passed through Ontario on their way west, filled with “disgusting creatures… beings bearing human form” but having “sunk to such a bestial level.”

 

That was the climate in which Gowda tried to create a Ukrainian Canadian regiment as the threat of war grew in Europe. Canada was not interested. On the contrary, Ukrainians were suspected of sympathy for the enemy Austro-Hungarian empire, from where they came. Those who were not naturalized were forced to register as enemy aliens. Others were disenfranchised, and some were interned in forced labour camps.

 

There were exceptions, and the film describes how Filip Konowal, a Ukrainian Canadian from the allied Russian empire, became the only Eastern European- born person to win the Victoria Cross, for “most conspicuous bravery and leadership when in charge of a section in attack.”

 

The second wave of Ukrainian immigration in the 1920s was similarly met with broad racism and exclusion. By the end of the 1930s, the reasons for enlisting were similar to other Canadians — patriotism, duty, excitement, lack of other work — but with that added cultural sense that Gowda’s blood sacrifice had not yet been paid.

 

The film quotes veterans such as Joseph Romanow of Saskatoon, who described an awareness that Ukrainian Canadians mustn’t be seen as second-rate citizens, and one way to do that was to fight for their country.

 

John Yuzyk of Rhein, Sask., said the economic climate was also so bad that “guys joined up because it paid and you could get three square meals a day.”

 

Ann Crapleve of Ladywood, Man., who would later participate in reconstruction efforts after the war, said: “I was a Canadian and wanted to do my bit for the country.”

 

The film ends with a description of Ukrainian Canadians assisting in this effort to rebuild

Europe, and sometimes finding Ukrainians in camps for displaced persons, and facilitating their immigration to Canada rather than repatriation to the Soviet Union.

 

You can watch the film at www.canadianwarstory.com

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BIDEN WILL SUPPORT UKRAINE AGAINST RUSSIA, BUT DEMAND CORRUPTION FIGHT

Anna Myroniuk

November 10, 2020

Kyiv Post

 

As Joseph Biden prepares to become the 46th president on Jan. 20, 2021, Ukraine by and large seems happy with the choice of the American voter.  If nothing else, he’s a familiar face because of his six visits to the nation as Barack Obama’s vice president and point man on Ukraine policy. Facebook boomed with old photographs of Biden posing with Ukrainian politicians, analysts, economists, and civic activists on his visits immediately after the news about his victory broke.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky congratulated Biden, a stark contrast to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s non-recognition thus far of Biden’s win over Donald J. Trump. But for Kyiv, it’s more than familiarity. Biden is seen as a genuine friend of Ukraine, a politician with a good understanding of the nation’s strengths and weaknesses. Biden led the strong U.S. drive to coordinate sanctions with Western democracies when Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, seizing Crimea and settling into a long and continuing war in the eastern Donbas.

Biden also held Ukrainian leaders’ feet to the fire when they moved too slowly in fighting corruption and setting up new anti-corruption institutions that remain under renewed threat from the controversial Constitutional Court. He takes office with neither victory — against Russia’s military adventurism or against domestic corruption — assured for Ukraine.  But he’s still a welcome contrast to Trump, who reportedly denigrated Ukrainians as “terrible people” who are all corrupt and who often took the Kremlin’s side.

Trump showed little knowledge of Ukraine and almost lost his presidency because of his interactions with Kyiv.  He tried to use Zelensky to open a criminal investigation into Biden and his son, Hunter, who cashed in on his father’s fame with a $50,000 a month job on the board of directors of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma. That company is owned by former ecology minister Mykola Zlochevsky, who served during President Viktor Yanukovych’s time in power from 2010-2014, and walked away with lucrative oil and gas exploration licenses. Zlochesky has been the target of investigations into whether he offered a $6 million bribe to close criminal cases against him.

The shakedown and attempted extortion of a foreign leader got Trump impeached by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and acquitted by the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate.

‘Tough love’ ahead

“This will likely be relationships with the elements of tough love. Strict dialogue on reforms for a more resilient and successful Ukraine in a long-term perspective,” Alyona Getmanchuk, director of the New Europe Center policy center in Kyiv, said.

Biden is likely to take a similar “tough love” approach with Zelensky as he did with ex-President Petro Poroshenko, even to the point of threatening to withhold aid — as he did with Poroshenko — in a standoff over Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. Biden won and got the ineffectual, corruption-tainted Shokin fired. Biden details his frustrations with Poroshenko and Ukraine’s feeble anti-corruption drive in his 2017 book “Promise Me, Dad.”

He also followed up in 2018 with his disappointment in Ukraine’s backsliding on unchecked corruption. “The corruption is so endemic and deep and consequential that it is really, really hard to get it out of the system,” Biden said, speaking not just of Ukraine but also of Russia and the rest of the Soviet Union where, instead of democratic institutions, people have been governed by dictators, oligarchs, and kleptocrats.

Biden will try to keep Ukraine on track on reforms while looking for allies in the President’s Office, parliament, government, and state institutions, said Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of the Anti-Corruption Action Center.

But there’s also a question of how Ukraine will rank among Biden’s pressing priorities, which include COVID-19, America’s economic woes and rising debt, climate change, the growing threats from Russia and China, trade agreements, restoring America’s relationships with the European Union and NATO that were frayed during Trump’s scandalous term.  “Biden will not be able to invest as much time and political capital in Ukraine as he did as vice president of the United States. He will spend a lot of time on domestic policy issues,” Getmanchuk said.

The change of power in the U.S. coincides with Ukraine’s Constitutional Court crisis. The unaccountable 15-member judges look set to issue rulings that gut many of Ukraine’s anti-corruption institutions while rolling back reforms in the banking sector and agricultural land market.

Biden’s presidency is “bad news” for these judges, according to Anders Åslund, a Swedish economist and a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, an American think tank.  “The 11 Ukrainian Constitutional Court judges implicated in attempts to derail anti-corruption efforts had better reconsider. They might otherwise find themselves subject to US sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes,” Åslund wrote in his article for the Atlantic Council.

Deoligarchization

Under Biden, the U.S. is likely to impose sanctions against yet another batch of notorious Ukrainians in a bid to toughen up its policy against oligarchs, experts say.  Some have been investigated for years now, including billionaire oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, the former co-owner of PrivatBank, whose collapse cost Ukrainian taxpayers $5.5 billion.

Long under criminal indictment for bribery charges that he denies is Dmytro Firtash, who controls regional gas distribution companies and fertilizer factories. He’s also been called a Kremlin agent, a charge — like all the other accusations of wrongdoing — that he denies.  “The FBI has reportedly been investigating Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoiskiy since 2016 for alleged money laundering in Cleveland. Strong rumors suggest that Trump blocked his prosecution in the United States. Kolomoisky is another obvious target for the Global Magnitsky Act,” Åslund wrote implying Kolomoisky can fall under the U.S. sanctions.

Another oligarch who can soon face the music is Firtash. The U.S. has been trying to extradite him from Vienna, Austria, since 2014. But Åslund predicted that Firtash will be extradited to the United States.  Firtash was also among those linked to Trump’s political war against Biden, with associates of the oligarch reportedly helping Guiliani to find dirt on Biden. Another oligarch who has to “rethink” his actions is Viktor Medvedchuk, Putin’s friend who faces U.S. sanctions for undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty and statehood. He, however, found a way to bypass the sanctions by setting up new companies under his wife’s name.

He now sits in parliament and has long held great political power, serving as chief of staff of ex-President Leonid Kuchma after making a fortune in the wild 1990s.  “Biden must implement those sanctions against Medvedchuk and add his wife, Oksana Marchenko, along with all the offshore companies to the sanctions list,” said Kaleniuk.

In September, the U.S. Department of the Treasury added controversial Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Derkach to its sanctions list for serving Russia’s interests and threatening the 2020 presidential election in the U.S.   Kaleniuk expects the U.S. to sanction more Russian agents like Derkach during Biden’s presidency.

Tougher policy towards Russia

Biden has often cited Russia’s global threat, making it likely that he will consider a policy known as “deterrence and dialogue,” Getmanchuk said.  “Unlike Trump, Biden is perceiving Russia as a threat,” she said.

The Obama administration did not provide Ukraine with lethal weapons in its fight against Russia. Biden favored such a step, but remained loyal to Obama. Now, after six years of Russia’s war with no end in sight, Biden may even adopt a tougher stance.  “The geopolitical situation has changed. Russia does not compromise, does not shift its position. The context has changed, because Russia takes an aggressive position not only against Ukraine but also against other countries, uses chemical weapons in Europe and interferes in elections in other countries. Under such conditions, Biden is unlikely to deviate from this course,” said Olexiy Haran, a professor of comparative politics at Kyiv Mohyla Academy.  Biden campaigned on a pledge to provide Kyiv with more military assistance.

Biden, who was among the originators of the current U.S. sanctions regime against Russia, will keep these measures on track, Åslund believes. Moreover, the U.S. is expected to get more involved in attempts to end the war in the Donbas.  “Inevitably, a Biden administration will make sure it plays a major role in Ukraine’s negotiations with Russia over the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine. This means that the likelihood of Russia seriously considering a withdrawal from eastern Ukraine has suddenly increased. The Kremlin knows and respects Biden, who has nurtured a reputation as a hardliner on Putin,” Åslund wrote.

New U.S. ambassador to Ukraine

Finally, Ukraine will likely get a new ambassador in Kyiv by early next year.   The position has been vacant for a year and a half since Trump abruptly removed then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch from office in 2019. He alleged Yovanovitch was disloyal, while she countered that she was a victim of a smear campaign.  “Marie Yovanovich was revoked for far-fetched reasons and I think Joe Biden should be able to renew the reputation of the State Department and of the American Embassy in Ukraine,” Kaleniuk told the Kyiv Post.

Chargé d’Affaires Kristina Kvien has been in charge of the U.S. mission since acting Ambassador U.S. William Taylor departed in January ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Kyiv.

Trump nominated Keith W. Dayton, but Biden may want someone else. Aslund wrote that Biden “has an excellent staff that knows Ukraine very well,” including Michael Carpenter, a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense in the Obama administration.

Ukraine “will now get a high-profile ambassador again and its policy will be more active than ever because Ukraine is critical to US interests in many regards,” Åslund said.

 

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WHAT UKRAINE NEEDS MOST? SHORT TERM GOALS FOR AMERICAN LEADERSHIP

The Pentagon recently announced that at the request of the Polish government more U.S. troops would be deployed to Poland and at the request of Ukraine’s government more military assistance would be rendered to Ukraine, including missiles, radar equipment as well as more joint military exercises. All of these are positive steps in the European and U.S. Relationship. What is missing in these recent announcements by the currently rudderless Pentagon has been in fact on the table since the Bucharest Summit in 2008.

 

During his most recent  visit to the United Kingdom, Ukraine’s President Zelensky raised this issue once again. Ukraine need a Membership Action Plan for NATO. In 2008 the U.S. under President George W. Bush was prepared to make that happen. It was stymied by France and Germany, two historically Russia friendly states. Eight months later in Brussels the issue was a mere mention in the final communique. Since then there has been an unnerving quiet.

 

A good portion of the blame lies with Ukraine itself which was ruled from February 2010 to February 2014 by a Russian surrogate. NATO MAP was a non-issue. For the remaining two years of President Obama’s administration the matter lay dormant. Ukraine was digging itself out from the Russian quagmire of influence under President Yanukovych and the ensuing active hostilities between the two countries. President Obama decided to lay low without direct involvement in the conflict except through sanctions. President Trump’s administration was at best lost time for Ukraine. 

 

What does Ukrainian membership in NATO offer the Alliance? Firepower! Of the 29 NATO member states only the following seven have more firepower: U.S., France, U.K.,  Turkey, Germany, Italy and Poland. Ukraine is considered the 27th most powerful state in the world with a standing military of more than a quarter of a million. Of NATO countries only the United States, Turkey and France have a larger military. Ukraine’s deficiencies are economic which is understandable given its Soviet legacy. NATO’s lack of firepower during the halcyon relationship period with the Trump administration was a genuine cause for concern. European members of NATO began forging a strictly  European defense alliance. This period of uncertainty and relative distrust not only emphasized the importance of American leadership but the role that Europe would need to assume under exigent circumstances.

 

What does NATO offer Ukraine? It is not an absolute defense, but rather the appearance of security and, certainly, a game changer for Ukraine in its worrisome relationship with a historic enemy. There are hurdles such as defense modernization and ending the current conflict, but MAP would be a tangible step in the right direction. President Elect Joe Biden stressed his desire to engage in the peace process. He also stated that Russia is the number one adversary of the  United States. Russia is also the number one adversary of Ukraine. America and Ukraine are natural allies. Furthermore, America’s involvement in the Russia/Ukraine conflict would lend credence to NATO’s mission as a peacekeeping alliance, keeping Europe safe from Russian aggression.

 

Similarly to President Zelensky’s inquiry on MAP in London, Ukraine needs to send a message to America’s new leadership as soon as possible that Ukraine wants America at the peace table whether it be in Minsk or, preferably,  elsewhere and that it depends upon American’s sponsorship of its Membership Action Plan in NATO. President Zelensky has commenced the dialogue by congratulating President Elect Joe Biden on his electoral victory.  The Ukrainian American community could be helpful in this, but at the present time it lacks leadership. Nonetheless, America under President Elect Joe Biden who recognizes both Russia  as an adversary and Ukraine as America’s strategic ally would assume the mantle required both by American and Ukrainian interests.

 

In essence, these are short term goals which can be addressed in the very near future. The message will be very clear to Russia and America’s allies that America in back as the unquestioned leader of the democratic world community. Ukraine would have an ally it can trust.

 

November 11, 2020                                              Askold S. Lozynskyj

 

 

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ЩО НАЙБІЛЬШЕ ПОТРІБНО УКРАЇНІ? КОРОТКОСТРОКОВІ ЦІЛІ ДЛЯ АМЕРИКАНСЬКОГО ПРЕЗИДЕНТА

Пентагон нещодавно оголосив, що на прохання польського уряду до Польщі буде розгорнуто більше американських військ і на прохання уряду України буде надаватися більше військової допомоги Україні, включаючи ракети, радіолокаційну техніку, а також більш спільні військові навчання та маневри. Все це позитивні кроки у відносинах між Європою та США. Чого не вистачає в цих останніх оголошеннях в даний час обезголовного Пентагон це справа яка давно наспіла ще з часів Бухарестського саміту в 2008 році.

 

Під час свого останнього візиту до Великої Британії Президент України Зеленський порушив це питання. Україні потрібен План дій щодо членства в НАТО. У 2008 році США при президенті Джорджі Буші США були готові зробити це. Вони зіткалися з Францією і Німеччиною, двома історично дружніми державами Росії. Вісім місяців потому в Брюсселі це питання було просто згадкою в остаточному комюніке. З тих пір спостерігається невтішна тиша спричинена різними складниками.

 

Значна частина провини лежить на самій Україні, яка управлялася з лютого 2010 року по лютий 2014 року російським сурогатом. ПДЧ НАТО не була актуальною темою. Протягом решти двох років адміністрації президента Обами справа лежала в сплячці. Україна викопала себе з російського трясовина за президента Януковича, але попала до нової активної війни між двома країнами. Президент Обама вирішив сидіти тихо без безпосередньої участі в конфлікті, за винятком санкцій. Адміністрація президента Трампа в кращому випадку це була втрата часу для України. 

 

Що пропонує Альянсу українське членство в НАТО? Вогневу міць! З 29 країн-членів НАТО лише наступні сім мають більше вогневої потужності: США, Франція, Великобританія, Туреччина, Німеччина, Італія та Польща. Україна вважається 27-ю найпотужнішою державою світу з постійними військовими понад чверть мільйона. З країн НАТО тільки США, Туреччина і Франція мають більші військові числа. Недоліки України є економічними, що зрозуміло з огляду на її радянську спадщину. Відсутність вогневої потужності НАТО в період халіконних відносин з адміністрацією Трампа була справжньою причиною для занепокоєння. Європейські члени НАТО почали кувати навіть строго європейський оборонний альянс. Цей період невизначеності та відносної недовіри не лише наголошував на важливості американського лідерства, а й на ролі, яку Європа повинна була б взяти на себе за блудних обставин Америки і її русофільського Президента.

 

Що НАТО пропонує Україні? Це не абсолютна оборона, а поява захисту і, безумовно, зміни в грі для України в її тривожних відносинах з історичним ворогом. Є перешкоди, такі як потреба модернізації оборони і припинення поточного конфлікту, але ПДЧ буде відчутним кроком у правильному напрямку. Новообраний президент Джо Байден наголосив на бажанні брати участь у мирному процесі між Україною і Росією. Він також заявив, що Росія є супротивником номер один США. Росія також є супротивником номер один України. Америка та Україна є природними союзниками. Крім того, участь Америки в конфлікті Росія/Україна довіряла б місії НАТО як миротворчого альянсу, зберігаючи Європу в безпеці від російської агресії.

 

Подібно до запиту Президента Зеленського щодо ПДЧ у Лондоні, Україні необхідно якнайшвидше надіслати повідомлення новому керівництву Америки про те, що Україна хоче, щоб Америка за столом миру була в Мінську чи, бажано, в іншому місці і залежить від американського спонсорства плану дій щодо членства в НАТО. Президент Зеленський розпочав діалог, привітавши новообраного президента Джо Байдена з перемогою на виборах.  Українська американська громада могла б бути корисною в цьому, але в даний час йому не вистачає лідерства. Америка при обраному президенті Джо Байдена, який визнає і Росію супротивником, і Україну стратегічним союзником Америки, візьме на себе мантію конечну цілому світу, а зокрема Європі та Україні.

 

По суті, це короткострокові цілі, які можуть бути вирішені в найближчому майбутньому. Послання буде дуже чітким для Росії та союзників Америки, що Америка повернулася назад як беззаперечний лідер демократичної світової спільноти. Україна матиме союзника, якому вона може довіряти.

 

11 листопада 2020 року                                          Аскольд С. Лозинський

 

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СИМВОЛАМ РОСІЙСЬКОГО ІМПЕРІАЛІЗМУ НЕ МІСЦЕ В УКРАЇНСЬКИХ МІСТАХ

Громадська ініціатива “Деколонізація України” вимагає демонтаж пам’ятника Катерині в Одесі. Попередньо влада цензурувала 5 петицій до президента з вимогами її ліквідації. Сьогодні активісти вийшли на акцію протесту, щоб привернути увагу жителів та гостей міста, адже влада ігнорує. Водночас Росія продовжує свої атаки в гуманітарному фронті, а Катерина, кат українського народу, продовжує бути символом пропаганди та русифікації.

 

Протестний настрій в регіоні зростає. Для проведення акції об’єдналися волонтери, ветерани, патріотичні громадські організації. Не обійшлося без атак ботів, вилитого бруду про замовлений конфлікт перед виборами. 

 

Боротьба з колоніальною спадщиною є питанням особливого значення в контексті російсько-української війни. Попри третє десятиліття незалежності, над Україною досі висить привид старого режиму, тому для нас деколонізація – це звільнення від нав’язаних російських міфів, постколоніальної свідомості, чужої пам’яті та ідентичності.

  

“Однією з причин теперішньої ситуації є російсько-українська війна, зокрема в інформаційній сфері”, – каже Андрій Покровський, активіст ГО “Основа Майбутнього”. Подолання нав’язаних міфів, колоніальної ідентичності можливе через правдиве висвітлення історії, через називання речей своїми іменами і провадження національно орієнтованої політики пам’яті.

 

“Імператриця, повія, окупантка Катерина II – не варта нашої шани та уваги,” – каже Сергій Репік, голова Секретаріату Молодіжного Націоналістичного Конгресу. “В Україні мають бути пам’ятники українським героям, а не особам, які закріпачували населення, проводили русифікацію та знищували українську державу”.

 

Через ці пам’ятки “спільній історії” Росія здійснює вплив на українців. Катерина ж стає негативним прикладом для одеситів та гостей. Тому ми не лише вимагаємо забрати пам’ятник кату, а і пропонуємо провести громадське слухання стосовно його заміни на більш гідну кандидатуру.

 

Очевидно, що влада не збирається виконувати вимоги. Під час самої акції поліція безпідставно склала протокол за ст. 152 Адміністративного Кодексу “Порушення державних стандартів, норм і правил у сфері благоустрою населених пунктів, правил благоустрою територій населених пунктів”. В процесі організації акції ініціативу “Деколонізація України” намагалися дискредитувати і приписували їй проплаченість кандидатами в мери, проте це не завадило продовжувати діяльність. В правовому полі було проведено колосальну роботу, та подані п’ять петицій на сайті президента безпідставно не були прийняті. Зараз активісти очікують прийняття петиції в міській раді Одеси.

 

Організатор: громадська ініціатива “Деколонізація України” 

Співорганізатори : Основа майбутнього / Одеса, Молодіжний Націоналістичний Конгрес, Чорноморське козацьке військо, Асоціація козацьких товариств “Січ”, Одесі 600 років.

 

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BIDEN MUST AVOID ANOTHER RUSSIAN RESET

by Janusz Bugajski

November 09, 2020

Washington Examiner

 

Since the Cold War victory, every incoming administration believed it possessed the magic formula to turn Russia into a strategic partner. Every time, the administration has been misled by the Kremlin and ended up trying to contain a new act of aggression.

A Joe Biden administration can avoid such pitfalls from the outset by devising a firmer policy to constrict Moscow’s ambitions and increase NATO deterrents.

Throughout his presidency, Trump believed that he could establish cooperative relations with Vladimir Putin but was prevented by his national security team from capitulating to naivety. Fortunately, they understood that Russia was an adversary challenging American influence and security.

Biden must now avoid the “reset” trap that President Barack Obama succumbed to in the forlorn hope that a show of goodwill would soften the Kremlin.

The Kremlin is pursuing a multi-pronged strategy to dismantle the West and divide America. Appeasement only helps to reinvigorate that objective, especially if it is premised on two erroneous assumptions: that Russia has legitimate interests in European security and that Washington can forge a productive partnership with Moscow.

Russia’s revisionist plans have been evident ever since Moscow drafted its European Security Treaty following the invasion of Georgia in 2008. It claimed that Russia itself could guarantee the security of its former satellites. The treaty was rejected by all states, but the primary goals of Kremlin policy have remained unchanged: strategic control of the post-Soviet area, rolling back NATO, and limiting America’s role.

Moscow has sought to impose its dominance by attacking and dismembering Georgia and Ukraine and is poised to fully capture Belarus. Russia’s often touted “legitimate interests” are barely disguised claims to control the foreign and security policies of neighbors that were once part of the Soviet empire. Moreover, the relentless campaign of political, social, economic, and informational subversion is calculated to weaken Western institutions and willpower.

A second mistaken assumption repeated by incoming administrations is that Washington can work constructively with Putin’s Kremlin in confronting global challenges. The one exception in which both sides have a stake is an extension of the New START non-proliferation agreement, which expires in February 2021. But Washington needs to be careful not to allow Moscow to gain a strategic nuclear advantage. In almost every other arena, Moscow actively cultivates conflicts from which it undermines American influence.

The Kremlin undermines Europe’s energy security and corrupts Western politicians. It constantly threatens NATO allies along the eastern flank through military buildups, snap exercises, and border violations. It nurtures armed conflicts in Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, and Azerbaijan to keep neighbors off balance and outside Western institutions. Its interventions in the western Balkans contribute to stirring interstate disputes that Washington and Brussels struggle to resolve.

Moscow does not abide by international agreements, as the purpose of negotiations is to trick the adversary into conceding ground for its previous aggression. The unimplemented Six Point Peace Plan in Georgia, the broken agreement to withdraw troops from Moldova, and the violated Budapest Memorandum, which guarantees Ukraine’s territorial integrity, are the most glaring examples of Moscow’s duplicity.

A more assertive U.S. policy toward Russia needs to be crafted with close allied cooperation. The Biden White House can focus on crucial vulnerabilities that the Kremlin exploits to its advantage, including disinformation, corruption, and funding of rightist and leftist extremism. Moscow’s influence can also be undercut by reinforcing military deterrence along NATO’s eastern flank, bringing Georgia into NATO, offering a path to membership for Ukraine, encouraging reforms that facilitate faster EU integration for the western Balkan states, and supporting human rights, democracy, and genuine federalism inside Russia.

The Kremlin will propose geopolitical agreements that may look appealing but will be designed to raise Russia’s influence at America’s expense. It will also push for lifting economic sanctions on oligarchs and state enterprises embroiled in Moscow’s anti-Western offensives. U.S. policy should not sacrifice transatlantic security in the forlorn hope that Russia can become a trusted partner.

The last “reset” with Moscow in 2009 lowered Western defenses and culminated in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Another benign approach will simply give the green light to further assaults on neighboring states and Western democracies.

Janusz Bugajski is a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) in Washington, D.C. His recent book, co-authored with Margarita Assenova, is entitled Eurasian Disunion: Russia’s Vulnerable Flanks.

 

 

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WHY A BIDEN PRESIDENCY IS VERY GOOD NEWS FOR UKRAINE

Ukraine Alert

by Anders Åslund

Nov 8, 2020

Few countries are likely to benefit more from a Joe Biden presidency than Ukraine. Biden knows Ukraine very well, having been responsible for US policy on Ukraine as vice president. He is committed both to its defense against Russia and to the country’s domestic reforms.

As vice president, Biden visited Ukraine no less than five times. As a result of this intensive engagement, he also has an excellent staff that know Ukraine very well, notably Dr. Michael Carpenter, who is likely to become his key staffer for Ukraine.

Ukraine played a major, though unintended, role in Biden’s defeat of Donald Trump. The impeachment of Trump was based on his “perfect” phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in summer 2019. Outrageously, Trump and his private lawyer Rudolph Giuliani also tried to use Russian disinformation extracted in Ukraine from suspected Russian intelligence agents such as Andriy Derkach in order to slander Biden.

Trump sacked honest US officials who supported Ukraine, notably Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman. Other US officials had little choice but to keep quiet. Trump’s preference for prioritizing ties with Putin over Ukraine left US policy on Ukraine in tatters.

Despite these deeply unfavorable circumstances, Ukraine continued to enjoy strong bipartisan support in Washington throughout the Trump presidency. Even Trump loyalists such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were quite supportive of Ukraine.

Biden will reinforce this bipartisan support for Ukraine and render it operative. The United States has not had a permanent ambassador in Ukraine since May 2019, when Trump sacked Yovanovitch. It will now get a high-profile ambassador again and its policy will be more active than ever, because Ukraine is critical to US interests in many regards.

Fortunately, Trump did not manage to stop, or even reduce, US military support to Ukraine. Biden will maintain this support and possibly increase it, while reinforcing its credibility, which will give the Kremlin food for thought. Attempts by pro-Russian forces within Ukraine to promote anti-US and anti-Western narratives will lose credibility accordingly.

US measures against the Kremlin suffered from a lack of consistency during the Trump presidency. Trump himself wanted to end or at least ease sanctions, while the rest of Washington wanted to strengthen them. This created confusion and undermined effectiveness. Biden, who was one of the initial authors behind the current US sanctions regime against Russia, can be expected to bring renewed clarity and reinforce existing measures.

Inevitably, a Biden administration will make sure it plays a major role in Ukraine’s negotiations

with Russia over the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine. This means that the likelihood of Russia seriously considering a withdrawal from eastern Ukraine has suddenly increased. The Kremlin knows and respects Biden, who has nurtured a reputation as a hardliner on Putin.

As vice president, Biden fought hard for the rule of law in Ukraine. He is bound to do so all the more forcefully as president. This is bad news for the many different forces in today’s Ukraine who are seeking to reverse anti-corruption initiatives or block judicial reform.

For example, the eleven Ukrainian Constitutional Court judges implicated in attempts to derail anti-corruption efforts had better reconsider. They might otherwise find themselves becoming subject to US sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes. The Global Magnitsky Act of 2016 was specifically designed with such characters in mind.

Numerous other prominent Ukrainians now have good reason to rethink their actions. Putin’s closest ally in Ukraine, Viktor Medvedchuk, has been sanctioned by the United States since March 2014 over the Russian occupation of Crimea. Why, then, is he allowed to head a parliamentary faction and control three major Ukrainian television channels? Biden is likely to pose such a question.

The FBI has reportedly been investigating Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoiskiy since 2016 for alleged money laundering in Cleveland. Strong rumors suggest that Trump blocked his prosecution in the United States. Kolomoiskiy is another obvious target for the Global Magnitsky Act. Meanwhile, the bungled US Department of Justice case against fellow oligarch Dmytro Firtash is likely to finally result in his extradition to the United States.

These US criminal cases could help clean up Ukraine’s politics. They could also provide President Zelenskyy with a new lease on life as he struggles to live up to his billing as a fresh face capable of transforming Ukraine’s political culture.

With Biden backing a strong anti-corruption agenda in Ukraine, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau and the rest of the country’s anti-corruption architecture is set to be reinforced. The long-awaited reform of the Security Services of Ukraine (SBU) is likely to finally take place, while judicial reform will be restarted.

As a result, Ukraine will hopefully move closer towards genuine rule of law. This will have a significant positive impact on the country’s prosperity while paving the way for further Euro-Atlantic integration.

Ukraine’s cooperation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will acquire new momentum. Indeed, Ukraine could receive levels of financial support from the IMF, the European Union, and the World Bank which would currently appear implausible. 

The combination of improved rule of law and enhanced international financing will also entice foreign direct investment. Needless to say, all these measures will improve the prospects for greater economic growth.

After Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 US presidential election was declared, President Zelenskyy was one of the first foreign political leaders to offer congratulations. He was wise to do so. Ukraine has much to gain from a Biden presidency, as does Zelenskyy personally.

 

Anders Åslund is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington. His most recent book is“Russia’s Crony Capitalism: The Path from Market Economy to Kleptocracy.”

 

 

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ZELENSKY CONGRATULATES BIDEN, HOPES FOR STABLE COOPERATION

By Oleksiy Sorokin.

Nov 8, 2020

Kyiv Post

 

President Volodymyr Zelensky has congratulated Joe Biden on his victory in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.  “Ukraine is optimistic about the future of the strategic partnership with the United States. Ukraine and the United States have always collaborated on security, trade, investment, democracy, fight against corruption,” Zelensky wrote on Twitter on Nov. 7.

Zelensky’s message came hours after ex-Vice President Biden was declared the winner by all major U.S. news outlets, including CNN and Fox News.  European Council President Charles Michel and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, have also congratulated Biden on the victory.

Ukraine-US relations under Trump

The whole world was waiting for the results of the U.S. presidential election. Ukraine was in the front row seat after being dragged into the election by incumbent President Donald J. Trump.

Many Ukrainian businessmen and politicians with tarnished reputations were using the rocky relations between the two countries to advance their agendas.  In January 2019, then-Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko took a New York trip that helped trigger a chain of events leading to Trump’s 2019 impeachment inquiry.

Lutsenko and his predecessor, Viktor Shokin, were able to convince Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, that Biden, as vice president, ordered Shokin’s firing to help his son Hunter Biden escape prosecution. Hunter Biden had worked for Burisma Holdings, the largest private oil and gas company in Ukraine, whose owner Mykola Zlochevsky was investigated for money laundering and tax evasion.

Lutsenko’s story was part of his attempt to keep an office he was about to lose by helping Trump discredit his main opponent before the election.  In reality, Hunter was never a target of any investigation, while Shokin’s ouster was demanded by anti-corruption watchdogs and foreign diplomats alike.  Nonetheless, the conspiracy stuck with Trump’s inner circle.

On July 25, 2019, in a phone conversation with Zelensky, Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart to begin an investigation against the Biden family in response to their Ukrainian activity. Days prior, a $400 million military aid package to Ukraine, approved by Congress, was frozen by Trump.

The world would have never learned about the content of that conversation had it not been for a whistleblower complaint alleging that Trump pressured Zelensky in the now-infamous call to investigate Joe Biden and his son.  In the phone call, Trump asked it as “a favor,” from Zelensky.

After the whistleblower complaint, Trump was impeached by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives on Dec. 18 on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.  He was acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate on Feb. 5.

While Trump kept his post after the scandal and Ukraine enjoyed bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress, the relationship between Ukraine and the U.S. was far from healthy. Back in May 2019, Trump was recorded saying that Ukraine was a disaster and corrupt and even called Ukrainians “terrible people.”  “They tried to take me down,“ Trump said, according to multiple October 2019 impeachment hearing testimonies in the U. S. House of Representatives.

Furthermore, many questionable Ukrainian officials jumped on Trump’s desire to use Ukraine in his re-election campaign to improve their own standing.  The list included ex-Prosecutors General Lutsenko and Shokin, oligarch Dmytro Firtash, a Ukrainian energy and chemical tycoon fighting off a U.S. extradition warrant in Vienna, and most recently, several pro-Russian lawmakers cheering for Trump.

On Aug. 7, United States Intelligence accused Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Derkach of acting in the interests of Russia and attempting to interfere in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Since 2019, Derkach has been actively pushing conspiracy narratives about Biden.

High hopes

It’s no secret that many Ukrainian pundits were hoping for Biden’s victory. Biden has had a stellar reputation when it comes to helping Ukraine.  Under U.S. President Barack Obama, American policy in Ukraine was led by Biden. The now President-Elect oversaw financial assistance to Ukraine and made emphasis on Ukraine’s fight against corruption, pushing Ukraine to do a better job.

“Oligarchs and non-oligarchs must play by the same rules. They have to pay their taxes, settle their disputes in court — not by bullying judges,” said Biden during his Dec. 8, 2015 speech in Ukraine’s parliament.  However, President-Elect Biden has all reasons to be disappointed with Ukraine.

Since Biden left office, not much changed, with Ukraine currently undergoing a constitutional crisis caused by corrupt courts which are used to dismantle crucial anti-corruption legislation.

Ukraine’s constitutional crisis began on Oct. 27, after the Constitutional Court killed the online asset declaration system, allowing officials to escape responsibility for lying on their asset declarations.  As a result, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau closed multiple corruption cases. The government decided to disobey the court’s, ordering the National Agency for Preventing Corruption to keep the online asset database.

On Oct. 31, Zelensky said that the Constitutional Court is influenced by oligarchs and pro-Russian politicians and that it could tear the country apart. Zelensky also registered a bill in parliament to fire the court’s judges.

The situation remains a stalemate. Zelensky’s bill didn’t reach the floor, while Constitutional Court judges keep Ukraine’s anti-corruption policies hostage. The bill that would legally return online asset declaration also didn’t see a vote.

With future U.S. President Biden potentially more invested in Ukraine’s anti-corruption policies, it may become harder for Zelensky to dodge responsibility for not reforming the Ukrainian judiciary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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UKRAINIAN IMMIGRANT ELECTED TO US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

By Yana Mokhonchuk.

Novomber 5, 2020

Kyiv Post

 

When Victoria Spartz won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives during the U.S. elections on Nov. 3, it was big news for the Republican Party and the state of Indiana, which she represents.  But unlike most things that happen in Indiana, Spartz’s victory has resonated in the Ukrainian media. Spartz is an immigrant from Ukraine.  Spartz was born on Oct. 1, 1978 in Nosivka, a city of 13,000 people in Chernihiv Oblast, some 100 kilometers northeast of Kyiv. She received bachelor of science and master of business administration degrees in Ukraine and moved to the United States in 2000.

In the U.S., Spartz studied at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University — Purdue University Indianapolis – and was appointed to the Indiana State Senate in 2017 after one member resigned.  In the 2020 race, Spartz faced off against Christina Hale, a former state representative who was the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in 2016. During the campaign, the Ukrainian-born politician emphasized her business background and warned of the dangers of socialism, which appealed to the rural and conservative voters in her district.

While votes are still being counted, the race has been called in favor of Spartz. “We did it! We won Indiana 5th Congressional District and I could never have accomplished it without you! I am so honored and humbled by the trust the people of Indiana’s 5th District have placed in me,” Spartz wrote on Facebook.  With 89% of protocols counted, Spartz has received over 188,700 votes so far, or 51%.

First Ukrainian in Congress?

Ukrainian media have reported that Spartz is the first Ukrainian to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. That statement is not untrue, but depends on how one defines “Ukrainian.”

Spartz is certainly the first immigrant from modern Ukraine to be elected to the U.S. legislature’s lower chamber, but the United States has previously elected individuals born in Ukraine or of ethnic Ukrainian ancestry to Congress.

David Benior, a Democrat from Michigan, served in the House of Representatives from 1977-2003. He is of Ukrainian and Polish ancestry.

Maurice Hinchey, a Democratic representative from New York in 1993-2013, also had Ukrainian ancestry.  

Abraham Toll, a Democrat from Pennsylvania who served in the House of Representatives from 1959 to 1967, was a Jewish immigrant born in Bohuslav, a city that is today in Kyiv Oblast.

Other U.S. politicians — particularly those of Jewish background — also had ancestors who immigrated from what is today Ukraine.