ISSUE 15  - MAY  8, 2019

U.S.-Ukraine Foundation Makes Debut at the Kyiv Security Forum
  By Markian Bilynskyj 

Nadia McConnell, President of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, alongside other panel discussants (from L to R):  Elmar Brok, Member of Germany's European People's Party , James Bezan, Member of the Canadian Parliament, Brian Whitmore, Senior Fellow and Director of Russia Program, the Centre for European Policy Analysis,  and Taavi Roivas, Member of the Estonian Parliament, Prime Minister of Estonia (2014-2016) 

Words should be used accurately and responsibly and so-called 'Ukraine fatigue' is a misleading term concocted by western policy makers reluctant to face the inconvenient fact that Ukraine is fighting a very real war in defense of Western values.  These were the principal thoughts offered by U.S.-Ukraine president, Nadia McConnell, at the  12th Kyiv Security Forum "The Restless Wave: Strategic Choice of Ukraine and the West"  h eld in the Ukrainian capital on April 11-12.  Mrs. McConnell's participation marked the USUF's debut at the event. 

The Forum - an initiative of former Ukrainian prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk's  Open Ukraine Foundation - is arguably the preeminent annual event of its kind in Ukraine.  It is certainly the most inclusive.  The Forum examines how pressing international issues affect Ukraine and consistently features principal foreign policy and security experts as well as former and serving high level officials from the Euro-Atlantic community. 
This year's key Ukrainian speakers included President Petro Poroshenko, Rada Chairman Andriy Parubiy, Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman and other principal officials.  Long-term opposition figure Yulia Tymoshenko also featured.  Held regularly in mid-April, this year's Forum took place in the midst of the Ukrainian presidential elections.  The moderators generally kept the discussion away from electoral controversies even if many of the issues discussed fall under the constitutional ambit of the presidency.  But the fact that the Forum was sandwiched between the two rounds undoubtedly contributed to the record number of attendees at this year's event.    
Nadia K. McConnell, President of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, spoke on a panel titled "A World in Disarray" at the 12th annual Kyiv Security Forum. The yearly event was launched by the Arseniy Yatsenyuk Open Ukraine Foundation in 2007. Since then, the Forum has become a platform for high-level international discussions on current issues of Ukrainian national security and  security issues of the Black Sea region, Europe and the world. 

Mrs. McConnell participated in a panel entitled "Ukraine and the West: What to Expect Now?" Other participants were: former Estonian prime minister, Taavi Roivas; Canadian member of parliament and shadow foreign minister, James Bezan; and the outspoken pro-Ukrainian German member of the European People's Party, Elmar Brok. The panel was virtually unanimous that Ukraine deserved more support in fighting Russian aggression and Mrs. McConnell's provocative observations were well received by the audience and in great measure set the tone for the panel's spirited discussion.  The video for the panel begins at 3:26:25   ... click below

Kyiv Security Forum. April 12, 2019
Kyiv Security Forum. April 12, 2019

The previous day, Mrs McConnell had also featured in a discussion on  Richard Haas' book, "A World in Disarray," the Ukrainian version  of which was published by  Osnovy Publishing  was presented at the Forum.  This was one of several panels held throughout the Forum in parallel to the plenary event.  The format provided greater scope for expression.    Moderated by former deputy foreign minister, Danylo Lubkivsky, the three-person panel also included the prominent Ukrainian publicist and philosopher, Vakhtang Kebuladze.
Nadia McConnell along with USUF - Kyiv staff members, Markian Bilynskyj and Christina Redko

The discussion reflected a generally negative reaction to Mr. Haas' view on American foreign policy and the crisis of the old order - the book's subtitle - and Ukraine's place in his world view.  Drawing on her Ukraine advocacy experience Mrs. McConnell described the problems associated with promoting the facts about Ukraine in Washington - in other words, getting the message across in the face of the historically predominant 'realist' foreign policy school of thought and its derivatives, a view that is all too often prepared "to sacrifice Ukraine on the altar of Big Power politics" - a theme she also raised the following day during the panel discussion.  The narrative that such thinking promoted in Washington (and not only) meant that policy was loaded against Ukraine and in Russia's favor.  

The forum concluded with an invitation only commemorative dinner for the late Senator John McCain - a genuine advocate of Ukraine in US policy circles whose passing is still mourned by Ukrainians across the political spectrum.  

Markian Bilynskyj is Vice President and Director of Field Operations in Ukraine for the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation. 


Seeking Assistance for Ukraine's War Victims
By Markian Bilynskyj
Putin's war on Ukraine continues to produce casualties far away from the line of conflict.  Apart from the 13,000 fatalities and the immediate problem posed by approximately 1.5 million internally displaced persons - a humanitarian crisis that has all but vanished from the international community's radar screen - there are many other victims of the conflict.  Many seriously wounded and traumatized former combatants are facing up the problems of becoming fully integrated members of society.  In addition, children of IDPs and veterans - including orphans - are also confronting new realities.  Five years after the commencement of hostilities, the Ukrainian authorities are still struggling to help those of its citizens having to cope with the consequences of the Kremlin's aggression.  
During her recent visit to Kyiv, USUF President Nadia McConnell met with Yuliia Dmytrova, Lilia Kravets and Tetyana Horolskaya of  TAPS Ukraine , Major General Volodymyr Havrylov of the  Veterans Dozen Foundation , and Larissa Verbitskaya of the Women's Partnership Circle to discuss how these initiatives and organizations could cooperate to assist the families of soldiers killed wounded in the war and to raise awareness of their plight, particularly within appropriate circles and entities in the US. 

Founded in  1994 by Bonnie Carrol, the  Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)  has provided emotional support to more than 75,000 U.S. military families, casualty officers and caregivers grieving the loss of a beloved service member. A peer-based emotional support program was set up in Ukraine last year, with its central office located in the southeastern city of Dnipro.  There are plans to expand TAPS Ukraine into a nationwide organization. 
Veterans Dozen is a charity organization created by a team of wounded Ukrainian warriors who fought in the war against Russia in 2014-2015. The principal aim is to aid the rehabilitation of badly wounded veterans through team-based sporting activities in Ukraine and abroad where they can interact with their fellow wounded veterans. The organization collects funds to enable wounded veterans to compete in 10 km races. In October Ukrainian veterans will participate in the US Marine Corps marathon in Washington, DC.

In a broad ranging discussion, the parties decided to work on identifying priority areas of cooperation. The Women's Partnership Circle offered to head a Humanitarian Coordinating Platform.  Among its members and partners the Circle currently has approximately 40 NGOs throughout working with veterans and their families and already works with the newly-formed Ministry of Veterans' Affairs and the Ministry of Regional Development. 


Ukraine's Presidential Elections: Winners, Losers, Observations
By Orest Deychakiwsky
So, after a contentious election campaign, Volodymyr Zelensky has been elected overwhelmingly as Ukraine's sixth president. Most of the Washington policy community - like the vast majority of the Ukrainian diaspora - would have preferred a continuation of the Poroshenko presidency, but the Ukrainian people had other ideas. Whether we like the results or not, these democratic elections reflected the will of the Ukrainian people and it is incumbent upon us to respect that choice. The choice was made by an electorate fed up with the ruling class and hungry for change.

Petro Poroshenko has been a strong president who has led the defense of Ukraine against Russia's aggression, who moved Ukraine closer to the trans-Atlantic community of democratic nations, who undertook many important reforms and who was highly respected as an international partner and statesman. His agenda of "Army! Language! Faith!" - while critically important for Ukraine's future - was not sufficient for most voters to overcome their frustration with living standards and in the failure to root out the scourge of Ukraine's greatest internal enemy, corruption, and ensure the rule of law.

The majority of the populace felt that the pace of change was too slow and the progress that was made was insufficient. Indeed, Mr. Poroshenko was perceived as being part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Some of his associates were far from being paragons of virtue.  Unfortunately, Mr. Poroshenko's wounds were self-inflicted and he seemed to be tone-deaf in some respects.

Notwithstanding his shortcomings, for which he paid a heavy political price, I believe that Mr. Poroshenko has been Ukraine's finest president to date and will be looked upon kindly by history for all that was accomplished under his watch. Moreover, he is still relatively young (53) and may very well still have a political future.

Worries about a Zelensky presidency are legitimate. While saying some things that are encouraging, other things he has said have produced serious apprehension. His unwillingness to meet with the press raise serious questions about his transparency. He has sent mixed messages. He is a relative tabula rasa, a political unknown, many of whose policies are vague or have yet to be fully articulated. And even though he has held Russia responsible for the ongoing war, many fear that his political naivete could be exploited by the evil, but far from stupid, Vladimir Putin. Other concerns range from Mr. Zelensky's seeming disrespect for the country's Ukrainian cultural and linguistic identity to his commitment to combatting corruption and the oligarchy, given his reported links to one of Ukraine's most controversial oligarchs, Ihor Kolomoisky.

On social media and elsewhere, reaction to Mr. Zelensky has reminded me of Yulia Tymoshenko's oft-quoted comment - "propalo vse" ("all is lost"). Although wariness is warranted, a Zelensky presidency will not mean Armageddon. He is not Viktor Yanukovych. Even if one thinks the very worst of him, he faces limitations. After all, Ukraine has a presidential-parliamentary system, so a president does not get everything he wants, especially if he does not control the Parliament or the government. In fact, we may not see all that much happen until the new Verkhovna Rada is elected in October. Even if he is as pro-Russian as some suggest, there are limits in how Moscow-friendly a president (or, for that matter, any leading political leader) can be in a post-Maidan Ukraine ...  CLICK to read more

Orest Deychakiwsky is Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors for the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation.  This article originally appeared in  The Ukrainian Weekly.



Why Poroshenko lost
Euromaidan Press, April 27, 2019 
The  results of Ukraine's 2019 presidential elections were a devastating blow for incumbent president Petro Poroshenko - not only did he lose to comic Volodymyr Zelenskyi, who has neither political experience nor concrete plans for solving Ukraine's problems, but the comic won in a landslide, 73.22% vs 24.45%. Poroshenko's defeat came as a surprise to many, except those who had been keeping an eye on opinion polls, which showed the politician's high anti-rating already several years ago. Sociologists have  established that nearly half of Zelenskyi's votes were actually votes against Poroshenko, who came to power in snap elections after the Euromaidan revolution in 2014 with significant support in all Ukrainian regions. So, why did Poroshenko lose?

Petro Poroshenko conceded his opponent's victory after the first exit polls were in on 21 April. The incumbent president didn't manage to bridge the gap with his opponent after the  first round of elections on 31 March. Despite his convincing defeat, Poroshenko had a convinced supporter base: the following day after elections, April 22, a spontaneous  "thank you" rally of several thousand voters showed up near the presidential administration. Its participants compelled Poroshenko to run for the presidency again, even "after one year" (to which Poroshenko answered: "if God wills") and thank him for such successes as the visa-free regime, Ukrainian church independence, development of Ukrainian culture, resisting the Russian aggression in the east, and reforms in Ukraine, which, in the words of Kurt Volker, special representative of the USA for Ukraine, exceed those of the last 20 years. Poroshenko's supporters online have now coalesced into a fan-club called "25%," which refers to Poroshenko's exit poll result ...  CLICK to read more  


Portman Statement on the Presidential Election Results in Ukraine
April 22, 2019 

W ASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) issued the following statement on the results of the presidential election in Ukraine:
"I congratulate President-elect Zelenskiy on his victory in Ukraine's presidential election. According to international observers, this election was free, fair, and without serious incident. This reflects the determination of the Ukrainian people to strengthen their democracy and preserve their national identity despite the continued pressure of Russian aggression. I have been proud to work with President Poroshenko to help the country make real progress over the last five years. I look forward to meeting with President-elect Zelenskiy soon and working with him and his administration to build on that progress and further strengthen the bond between our two countries."    CLICK for more 


The Cultivators: New breed of Ukrainian tech entrepreneurs 
seek success in global markets (part 4)
By Mike Buryk,  Ukraine Digital News / April 24, 2019
This series of articles shows how tech entrepreneurs living or born in Ukraine explore their motivations and dreams and also the many obstacles they face, striving to shape new products and services worldwide. A continuation of Part 3  of this series, the innovators in this group established their global companies and still manage and continue to grow them to this day.  These "cultivators" faced many challenges taking their products to the US market and elsewhere outside Ukraine, but have experienced great success as they focused on long-term growth.  These profiles of young risk-takers highlight their efforts to succeed on a global stage despite the odds stacked against them.

Yaroslav Azhnyuk and Petcube

So what did four 23-year-old Ukrainian entrepreneurs know about the connected pet market in the US?  Almost nothing, but they learned very quickly.  Yaroslav Azhnyuk and his colleagues Alex Neskin and Andrey Klen founded  Petcube in Kyiv (Kiev) in 2012, Their product is an electronic device that enables owners to communicate with their pets over the Internet.  

The four entrepreneurs later moved their headquarters to San Francisco, Calif.  There is still a Kyiv R&D office and manufacturing is done in Shenzhen, China. 

Today Petcube is sold at major shopping malls and can be bought at familiar online stores including Brookstone, Amazon and BestBuy. It is a successful and  award-winning product in the US pet care market, which was estimated at $69.5 billion in 2017.  By July 2017, more than  100,000 Petcube  cameras were sold ...  CLICK to read more  

Mike Buryk is a member of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation's Advisory Board.   For additional information, contact Mr. Buryk at:   mikeb@mburykassociates.com  

RICHARD LUGAR (1932-2019)

Richard Lugar, Longtime Indiana Senator And Foreign Policy Leader, Dies At 87
NPR, April 28, 2019

Richard Lugar, the former Indiana senator whose work in pursuit of nuclear nonproliferation helped cement his place as one of the Republican Party's most influential voices on foreign policy, died Sunday at the age of 87.

The former six-term senator died in Falls Church, Va., of complications from a neurological disorder known as chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy. Lugar's wife, Charlene, and his four sons - Mark, Bob, John and David - were with him at the time of his death, following a short illness in the hospital,  according to a statement from the Lugar Center.

Lugar's political career began in 1964 ... CLICK to read more

 At the instruction of Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, former Senator Richard Lugar received the Order of Liberty award from Ambassador Valeriy Chaly at a ceremony at the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington, DC in December 2016.  Photo:  Embassy of Ukraine in USA website

Embassy of Ukraine in the USA / Посольство України в США
                April 28 at 3:19 PM 

Embassy of Ukraine in USA expresses deepest condolences to the family of Richard  Lugar,  U.S. Senate and all the Americans. Senator Lugar will be remembered in Ukraine for his dedicated contribution to Ukraine's democracy and support for our country.  Awarded by President Poroshenko with the Order of Liberty, Senator Lugar's memory will be honored with gratitude in Ukraine.

Thank You, USUF Spring Semester Interns!

The U.S.-Ukraine Foundation (USUF) expresses its deep gratitude to our Spring semester interns - Alida Blendonohy, Morgan Elizabeth Bucholz and Lydia Korostelova (pictured above, R to L) - for their invaluable assistance over the past few months. From covering Ukraine-related activities to conducting research to helping organize and support USUF events, our interns contributed greatly to the work of the Foundation.

Alida is pursuing a B.S. in Foreign Affairs at Georgetown University, Morgan is majoring in Justice Studies at James Madison University, and Lydia is a Communications major at George Mason University.

The U.S.-Ukraine Foundation is accepting applications for its  Internship Program! Applicants typically are pursuing degrees in international relations, public administration, political science, history, journalism, law, public health, web design, economics and/or finance. Candidates are selected on a competitive basis. A resume and cover letter explaining your interest should be submitted to info@usukraine.org.

The Foundation makes every effort to provide a mutually beneficial internship that is tailored to each intern's interests and the needs of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation.
Go west to Lviv, visitor to Ukraine
By Danielle Braff, The Washington Post, April 25, 2019

The Ukrainian capital is known for history and architecture.
While Ukraine is one of the largely undiscovered spots in Eastern Europe thanks to its political and economic struggles, it's also incredibly rich in architecture and beauty, making it a lovely place to visit.   Currently, there is a Level 2 travel advisory for Ukraine, so while you should exercise increased caution, it's safe as long as you avoid the eastern parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, or provinces.

Lviv is known for its culture and art, as well as its food scene. (iStock)

Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, is one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe (legend says it was founded in the 5th century), with a population of 2.9 million. Located on the Dnieper River in north-central Ukraine, it is overflowing with exquisite churches, ancient architecture and plenty of history.
A visit isn't complete without stopping at ... CLICK to read more

17 of Europe's most Instagrammable cities

"Whether you like it or not, Instagram driven travel is having a moment and it's about time we all got on board. In an age where adventures and memories can be shared at the touch of a button, documenting your every move is the norm and seeking out the perfect selfie spot now plays a huge role in every travel itinerary. Capturing that candid snapshot is no easy feat but framing it against the backdrop of classical medieval architecture and never-ending canals sure does help. As some of the most photogenic places in the world, Europe's cities are oozing with Instagram potential. With this in mind, we've put together a list of the crème de la crème. Charge up your iPhones, sort out your angles and take on the cobbled streets one filtered little square at a time... after all, did it even happen if you didn't Instagram it?" 

Guess what city is #16??  CLICK to find out

Stop Overlooking Kyiv, Eastern Europe's Diamond In The Rough
By Breanna Wilson, Forbes, April 10, 2019
I'll be brutally honest, Kyiv was never very high on my list.
Between the recent revolutions, ongoing conflicts with Russia and - I'll be honest - brutally cold weather, it was a place that, as intriguing as all of this was to me as a journalist, it just wasn't a place I was sure that I wanted to visit, let alone promote that someone else visit.
But I was wrong. And it didn't take ... CLICK to read more


Ukrainian Elections Focus of Upcoming Helsinki Commission Briefing

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, announces the following briefing:

Implications of Ukraine's Presidential Elections

Thursday, May 9, 2019
2:00 p.m.
Rayburn House Office Building
Room 2200

At this Helsinki Commission briefing, panelists will explore the state of institutional resilience and political context for the election of Volodymyr Zelenskiy as Ukraine's next president on April 21, 2019. This briefing will explore implications for transatlantic engagement and opportunities for reforms on issues related to the rule of law, media freedom, and corruption.

The following panelists are scheduled to participate:
Dr. Michael Carpenter, Senior Director, Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement
Natalie Sedletska, Journalist and Host, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Ukrainian Service
Additional panelists may be added.


Assessing the Use of Sanctions in Addressing National Security and Foreign Policy Challenges

The House Financial Services Committee's Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy will convene a hearing entitled "Assessing the Use of Sanctions in Addressing National Security and Foreign Policy Challenges."

Wednesday, May 15 -  2:00pm
Room 2128 
Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515



USUF is representing Ukraine at the ... 



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