ISSUE 3 - JANUARY 23, 2019
The National Security and Economic Security Task Forces meet.
Continuing to Work

By Matthew Popadiuk

Over the last several months, the National Security Task Force, chaired by Amb. John Herbst, and Economic Security Task Force, chaired by Amb. Roman Popadiuk, have held a series of meetings to identify current and possible future U.S. assistance in support of Ukraine's defense efforts against Russian aggression.
Discussion of the Civil Society and Democracy Task Force. Pictured from left to right are: co-chairs of the task force, Orest Deychakiwsky and Jonathan Katz, along with Stephen Nix of IRI.
The FOUN Civil Society and Democracy Task Force, co-chaired by Jonathan Katz and Orest Deychakiwsky, spearheaded the third in an ongoing series of international video conferences dedicated to Ukraine's upcoming elections, linking Washington, Kyiv and Brussels for these important discussions. Read below  for more details.

In general, the National Security and Economic Security Task Forces discussed the following:
Military Assistance
Among the topics discussed for FOUN's soon to be presented recommendations, was U.S. military assistance to Ukraine, the consensus that such assistance can help Ukraine to counter Russian aggression. Ukrainian defense experts believe it essential to supply Ukraine with military hardware as well as other measures to prevent Russia from asserting a more dominant role in the Black Sea. Such a step can lead to Russia cutting off Ukrainian ports altogether and have an impact on the greater geopolitical situation in the Mediterranean. Of particular concern is the artificial blockade created by the Russian bridge over the Kerch Strait. It was noted in a visit by Ukrainian officials earlier in December 2018 that the intended purpose of its construction was to provide a blockade to isolate the ports of Berdyansk and Mariupol. Ships attempting to pass through this barrier have routinely been delayed by Russian patrols, which has caused a host of painful economic disruptions for shipping companies and the municipalities with respect to the delivery of necessary supplies for that region of Ukraine. FOUN will also have some recommendations for Ukraine both relating to its own approach to providing for its military and the operation of its military industrial complex.
The escalating conflict has caused an ever-growing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Due to Russia's five-year war against the country, Ukraine now has more internally displaced persons (IDPs) than any other country in Europe. To address this crisis the U.S. must lead the international community in securing greater access to areas in the conflict zone, assistance to neutralize land mines and other explosives in eastern Ukraine and in providing for more assistance, including in-kind and personnel to administer to immediate needs. There is also a need for humanitarian agencies to fulfill their pledges as well as for a UN-led pledging conference. Of special concern is the fact that Ukraine is now dealing with the realities of being the country with the largest deposit of land mines threatening the movement of civilians as well as military. FOUN has developed and is circulating a proposal for dealing with the difficult humanitarian crisis.
Additional sanctions need to be implemented by the U.S. against Russian state financial institutions, such as Vnesheconombank (VEB), Promsvyazbank, Gazprombank, and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). Sanctions on Russian shipping should prove to be effective if these include a ban on U.S. (and, in coordination with the EU) EU member-flagged ships from calling on Russian ports in the Sea of Azov and Black Sea and a ban on Russian ships from gaining entry to US and EU ports. To have the desired effect, new sanctions such as these should remain in place until the Minsk agreement is fulfilled.
FOUN Vice-chair for External Relations, Robert McConnell, sent a letter on behalf of FOUN to Speaker Pelosi and co-chairs of the Ukraine Caucus as well as Senate Majority Leader McConnell requesting that a classified briefing be held for all Members of Congress on the ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine. This is particularly important since there are so many new Members of Congress. Click here to read the text of the letter.
Admiral Voronchenko, Commander of Ukraine's Navy, making remarks regarding Ukraine's naval defense capabilities in the wake of the Sea of Azov incident. Seated from left to right in the front row are: 
Captain Andrii Ryzhenko, Admiral Ihor Voronchenko and Glen Howard, President of the Jamestown Foundation.   
Additional meetings of task force members included a discussion on recent developments with Vice Admiral Ihor Voronchenko, Commander of the Ukrainian Navy, who was hosted by Glen Howard, president of the Jamestown Foundation and FOUN member. Nadia McConnell met with Glen Grant, former Lieutenant Colonel with the British Army as well as a leading expert on National Security and Defense of Ukraine from the Ukrainian Institute for the Future, to discuss ongoing cooperation with USUF and FOUN Representatives of the Task Forces on National Security and Economic Security informally met with DR. Donald Winter, who, among other things, was former Secretary of the Navy. He has been asked by the Pentagon to review and provide analysis on what might be called Ukraine's military industrial complex, which encompasses public and private companies producing military equipment.

Pictured from left to right are: TAPS President and Founder,
Bonnie Carroll, Carolee and Bill Hefti. 
A New Partner for USUF and FOUN

On Monday, January 14, Robert and Nadia McConnell had the opportunity to meet with Bonnie Carroll, the President and Founder of The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) on the eve of her 3 rd trip to Ukraine. Bonnie traveled to Ukraine last April and helped establish a TAPS Ukraine program headquartered in Dnipro. Joining the discussion by phone was the director of TAPS in Ukraine. You can read more about the Ukraine visit at the Military Times Website

TAPS offers compassionate care to all those grieving the loss of a loved one who died while serving in our Armed Forces. Since 1994, they have assisted more than 85,000 surviving families, providing comfort and hope 24/7 through a national peer support network offering connections to grief resources, all at no cost.
The TAPS program is the premier nongovernmental program offering assistance to survivors of a military death. In recognition of her longstanding efforts, Bonnie herself a survivor, received the highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Honor from President Obama on November 24th, 2015.
It is reassuring that TAPS has identified the need of people in Ukraine and has helped to get a mirror organization underway.
We are looking forward to meeting with Bonnie upon her return, to hear about her trip, and to continue our conversations about cooperative efforts with USUF and FOUN.
The meeting was facilitated by retired marine, Buzz Hefti, who has been engaged with TAPS since its founding. He has also been associated with the Marine Corp Marathon and has visited with the Ukrainian soldiers who participated in the marathon.
 By Adrian Karmazyn
The Transatlantic Task Force on Elections and Civil Society in Ukraine held its third international videoconference during which experts in Washington, Kyiv and Brussels used such terms as "unpredictable" and "wide open" to characterize the upcoming March 31st presidential election in Ukraine.

The Transatlantic Task Force was established by the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation's Friends of Ukraine Network (FOUN) and the Reanimation Package of Reforms (RPR) Ukrainian NGO coalition to support democratic, free and fair elections in Ukraine. At the December 19th event the Washington moderator and FOUN Civil Society and Democracy Task Force co-chair Jonathan Katz (Senior Fellow, German Marshall Fund) reminded the audience that the broader goal of the transatlantic initiative is "to better institutionalize the engagement of civil society in Ukraine with U.S. and European policy makers, opinion makers, think tanks and civil society organizations that are focused on Ukraine and focus on Ukraine's transatlantic integration" and democracy.   And he expressed hope that whatever the outcome of the election the next government "will be committed to the reform path that's... necessary for Ukraine's democracy" and "economic growth."  
In his opening remarks, FOUN Democracy and Civil Society Task Force co-chair Orest Deychakiwsky set the tone for the discussion with questions about the electoral prospects of pro-Russian candidates, the impact of the creation of an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and the possibility of a serious challenge to incumbent President Petro Poroshenko and former Prime Minister Tymoshenko from a "reformist bloc" presidential candidate.
Offering a snapshot of voter sympathies in Ukraine based on polling conducted in late September and early October was Stephen Nix of the International Republican Institute (IRI). In that poll, Tymoshenko had the support of 17% of likely voters with Poroshenko, Volodymyr Zelenksy, Anatoliy Hrytsenko and Yuriy Boyko each in the 8-10% range. But with 17% of voters undecided he characterized the presidential election as "a wide-open race." Mr. Nix mentioned that IRI will conduct more polling early in 2019 that should provide additional insights as the election date draws closer.
Stephen Nix also explained that this large cohort of undecided voters is made up mostly of women voters residing in central and western Ukraine. He suggested that two recent news events may influence their choice: the creation of an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church (promoted by Poroshenko) and Russia's attack on and seizure of Ukrainian naval ships and their crews in the Black Sea as they tried to pass through the Kerch Strait. Although economic issues have been a dominant concern among the electorate, the Orthodox Church and Black/Azov Sea issues may be "changing the dynamic" and could have a "tremendous effect" on the campaigns and likely "are going to move these undecided numbers," he said.
Nix expects that these undecided women voters are not going to be voting for a pro-Russian presidential candidate. And he also noted that pro-Russian parties in Ukraine have failed to coalesce around a single candidate which means any such presidential hopeful is highly unlikely to make it into the second round. (If no candidate wins "50% plus 1" in the first round the top two candidates will compete in a second round on April 21st).
Still, the biggest challenge for Ukraine's incumbent according to the IRI poll is that 71% of those surveyed feel that the country is moving in "the wrong direction." On a positive note, Mr. Nix noted that as decentralization takes hold, there are indications that voters are feeling some optimism about reforms at the local level.
Iryna Bekeshkina  (left) and Olena Prokopenko at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center in Kyiv. UCMC ecentralization takes hold there 
are indications that voters are feeling some optimism about 
reforms  at the local level.
In her introductory remarks, Kyiv moderator Olena Prokopenko of RPR characterized the audience that had gathered at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center as mostly "diplomatic," including representatives of the European Union delegation, USAID, NATO, the embassies of Germany, Great Britain, Estonia, Hungary, Poland and others, as well as journalists. She noted that more than 10 Ukrainian NGOs have joined the Transatlantic Task Force election initiative.
The keynote speaker in Kyiv was Iryna Bekeshkina, Director of the Democratic Initiatives Foundation. Her organization's polling results were similar to those of IRI with several candidates virtually tied for second place, but with Tymoshenko enjoying a somewhat smaller lead. Having been engaged in analyzing all of Ukraine's past elections she said: "There has never been an election as unpredictable as this one."
Ms. Bekeshkina also noted that Ukraine's election environment is being impacted by lackluster economic growth and insufficient anti-corruption efforts, unrealistic populist slogans, Russia's hybrid war in the Donbas, and Moscow's interference in the election campaign through discrediting certain candidates and financially supporting others. Poroshenko is Russia's least favorite candidate, she said.
Iryna Bekeshkina called on Ukrainian NGOs, analysts and journalists to unite and to pose "tough questions" to the candidates regarding how they will fulfill their promises and to critically analyze the candidates' proposals and inform citizens when they are being "duped."
Speaking from Brussels, Svitlana Kobzar ofthe European Endowment for Democracy drew comparisons between the current campaign and the May 2014 presidential election, which took place soon after the Euromaidan. Back then, Poroshenko had wide national support and won in the first round. Today, "we don't have that unity," she said. After the Maidan there was a "certain credit of trust from society," even a willingness to sacrifice for longer term benefit--but that has been replaced by "huge distrust" and "pessimism."
Ms. Kobzar noted that although some agents of change were elected to Parliament and did push through some reforms their small numbers made it hard to meet society's expectations and hopefulness about their influence has also now dissipated. She views the unpredictability of Ukraine's elections as a cornerstone of the country's democratic process but also recognizes that it is very difficult for any new candidate to enter the playing field of the campaign without the approval of oligarch-owned television channels who can block a politician's access to their mass TV audiences.
The moderator at the Brussels venue was Bruno Lete of the German Marshall Fund.
Amb. Alexander Vershbow at the German Marshall Fund.
Credit Adrian Karmazyn.
Also in attendance in Washington were Ambassadors Alexander Vershbow (Atlantic Council) and William Taylor (U.S. Institute of Peace), both of whom are members of the Friends of Ukraine Network. They took a moment to address the Western response to Russia's November 25th attack on and seizure of Ukrainian ships and their crews in the Black Sea. Ambassador Vershbow expressed concerns about a lack of sufficient deterrent action, noting that neither the U.S., the European Union nor NATO "are really doing anything concrete to impose costs on the Russians" and that an...

Amb. William Taylor a member of the FOUN Democracy and Civil Society Task Forcespeaking at a roundtable on Ukraine's elections at GMF. Credit Adrian Karmazyn.
..."inadvertent green light may be being flashed at Putin" regarding escalation of the aggression against Ukraine. Ambassador William Taylor also called for stronger measures and "actions, not just words," arguing that "we have the authority to take some actions that would stop Nord Stream II," the new gas pipeline that will link Russia and Germany. (Amb. Taylor participated in a recent National Democratic Institute assessment of Ukraine's pre-election environment).
To view an English-language video of the December 19th Transatlantic Task Force roundtable discussion titled "Who, What, and Why: Ukraine's 2019 Presidential Elections Are Kicking Off" click here.  The Ukrainian-language version is here. An earlier roundtable on cyber threats is here and the inaugural Transatlantic Task Force on Elections and Civil Society meeting can be viewed here.

By Adrian Karmazyn
For the third year in a row, the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation (USUF) will be promoting Ukraine as an attractive travel destination through its participation in the New York Times Travel Show, January 25-27, 2019.  The exhibition, now in its 16th year, is considered the largest and most prestigious gathering of its kind, with a record 32,000 visitors in 2018.
The USUF website, traveltoukraine.org, is the perfect tourist platform to plan your once-in-a-lifetime experience of Ukraine, Europe's country of dreams. 
The featured participants of USUF's Travel to Ukraine booth ( #478 ) are  Vacanture Ukraine  travel agency,  Ukraine International Airlines  and the Agency of Regional Development of  Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast  , the latter of which is highlighting tourism opportunities in the Carpathian Mountains. Ukraine, with its rich history, beautiful architecture, vibrant culture and hipster restaurant and pub scene, continues to draw accolades as a largely undiscovered "must see" travel destination in Europe.
Attendees to the NYT Travel Show peruse the many memorable offerings available to tourists  planning their trip to Ukraine via the USUF website, traveltoukraine.org.
Please do stop by our Travel to Ukraine booth and talk to our experts about why Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa, Ivano-Frankivsk and other Ukrainian cities have become a magnet for hundreds of thousands of foreign tourists annually.
The New York Times Travel Show will be held at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.  For exhibit times and ticket information visit the exhibition's  website
To read about Ukraine at last year's show,  click here .

CONTACT USUF at:  info@usukraine.org 


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