ISSUE 6 - FEBRUARY 14, 2019
USUF Meets with Senator Portman on Ukraine Humanitarian, Defense Issues
By U.S.-Ukraine Foundation

David Rigsby, Roman Popadiuk, Senator Rob Portman and Robert McConnell

U.S.-Ukraine Foundation (USUF) Board Chairman Ambassador Roman Popadiuk, along with Robert McConnell, Coordinator of External Relations for the Foundation, and Board member David Rigsby, who also serves as chairman of USUF's Friends of Ukraine Network defense group, met with United States Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and his staff o n February 11.  They discussed humanitarian and military issues pertaining to Ukraine specifically outlining the dire need for humanitarian assistance, the threat of land mines in eastern Ukraine and a concept for strengthening Ukraine's private defense industry sector.
About 3.4 million people need some type of immediate assistance and, of these, about 1.5 million are internally displaced persons (IDPs). Ukraine faces a particular threat from land mines. It is considered one of the world's most landmine contaminated areas. Ambassador Popadiuk outlined a specific plan to utilize U.S. military logistic capabilities and personnel to deliver and distribute humanitarian assistance in eastern Ukraine. The U.S. has used similar programs to deal with natural disasters and humanitarian crises throughout the world. The group also requested that the United States provide additional funding for the humanitarian effort and take steps for greater international support of this effort. As of December of last year, according to the Financial Tracking Service of the UN Office of Humanitarian Affairs, only 38% of the  2018 Humanitarian Response Plan for Ukraine has been funded. In fiscal year 2018 the US provided $38 million in humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.
On the defense front, the group outlined a program to assist Ukraine in strengthening its private sector defense focusing on determining, documenting and prioritizing Ukraine's requirements.  They discussed evaluating which requirements Ukraine's defense sector can provide and which require outside assistance.  This involves evaluating manufacturing potential and streamlining its procurement procedures. The program discussed will help Ukraine meet its specific battlefront requirements, strengthen its defense industry and also become a magnet for U.S. investment and partnerships with the U.S. defense sector.  Uniquely, the program would be based on Ukrainian defense sector stakeholders working in focus groups outside their normal duties in Ukraine.
Mr. Rigsby noted that Ukraine's private defense companies already make significant contributions to Ukraine's economy and provide a pathway to Ukraine becoming more capable of meeting its own defense needs.
Senator Portman noted his visit to eastern Ukraine last year and concurred with the group's evaluation that the conflict, unfortunately, had largely disappeared from the public's attention in the United States. The Senator noted that during his visit it was obvious that the shooting and conflict was still ongoing.

Sitting in on the session was Wayne Jones, the Senator's foreign policy and defense sector adviser. The Senator voiced his interest in both proposals, and it was decided that his staff will continue with an in-depth discussion with the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation.

Senators Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Hold Russia Accountable
Press Release, February 13, 2019

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) today introduced the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA) of 2019. The comprehensive legislation seeks to increase economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation in response to Russia's interference in democratic processes abroad, malign influence in Syria, and aggression against Ukraine, including in the Kerch Strait.

The legislation establishes a comprehensive policy response to better position the U.S. government to address Kremlin aggression by creating new policy offices on cyber defenses and sanctions coordination.  The bill stands up for NATO and prevents the President from pulling the U.S. out of the Alliance without a Senate vote.  It also increases sanctions pressure on Moscow for its interference in democratic processes abroad and continued aggression against Ukraine ...

"Russia's continued aggression against the United States and our allies, and its repeated attacks on Ukraine's sovereignty must be countered with a clear, bipartisan condemnation from Congress," said Shaheen. "This legislation builds on previous efforts in Congress to hold Russia accountable for its bellicose behavior against the United States and its determination to destabilize our global world order. I urge Senate Leadership to move swiftly on this legislation, and I'll keep working across the aisle to prioritize measures that safeguard our nation from adversaries who threaten our democracy."
CLICK to read more 

Talent Galore: Some of the Best of the Best Hail from Ukraine
By Nadia K. McConnell

The famed talent show,  America's Got Talent , is airing a 2019 edition entitled  America's Got Talent: The Champions . This show is featuring the top 50 winners and finalists from all 15 years of the show and from 58 countries around the world. Three out of the 50 competitors come from Ukraine. 

Kseniya Simonova
Kseniya Simonova, sand artist from Evpatoriya on the Crimean Peninsula, who originally won  Ukraine's Got Talent in 2009, has captured the heart and praise of the judges. She got the Golden Buzzer from the host, Terry Crews, in her last performance and this immediately placed her in the top 10 finalists. 

Last Monday's performance was dedicated to the suffering caused by war.  Hailing from Crimea,  Kseniya is all too familiar with how war destructs, but notes that, in the end, "love always wins."     Click to view .  

In her introduction to the first Championship round, she stated, "I feel I'm here representing Ukraine and I want to show it's a beautiful, artistic place."  Click to view   

After her initial rise to fame, Simonova became increasingly involved in charity work for various causes. She has held charity performances to raise money for the maternity ward in her hometown as well as other medical institutions in Ukraine. Her work also revolves around children and adults fighting terminal illnesses such as cancer and cardiac disease.

Viktor Kee

Viktor Kiktev, who goes by the stage name "Viktor Kee," was born to an artistic family in Priluki, Ukraine.  Victor performed in  America's Got Talent in 2016 where he made it to the Top 10 as a finalist.  While he did not win that season, he was invited to participate in the AGT Champions because of his extraordinary talent. Click to view
Kiktev has an extensive background in fine arts and even traveled the globe as a Cirque Du Soleil performer.  Aside from his performance ventures, Kee is also very passionate about his non-profit work in circus arts. Through the Viktor Kee Foundation, he provides performing arts classes to children of disadvantaged communities.  He began his work in Ukraine and has since spread his flagship program to other communities in countries such as Kenya, Uruguay, and Argentina.


Finally, Light Balance is a LED light-up dance troupe that participated in  America's Got Talent in 2017, finishing in 3rd place. Click to view    Their excellent performance thus led them to be selected for the current AGT Championship competition. Click to view
Light Balance

The all-male troupe originating in 2012 in Dnipro, Ukraine dances in neon costumes, creating a unique illusion on a dark stage. The group's talents are not limited to dance; the act they incorporate carefully programmed lighting and music, and intricately designed costumes. Their choreography tells a story to the audience while also creating a high energy performance. 

The group has stated that the opportunity to participate in seasons of AGT has led them to a humbling success; their families, once living in the war zones of Ukraine, have since been able to relocate to safer regions within the country.

You Only Wish You Had Ukraine's Democracy
Despite attacks from abroad and corruption at home, Ukrainian democracy isn't failing-it's thriving.
By Paul Hockenos, Foreign Policy, Feb 10, 2019

In  November 2018, Russia captured three Ukrainian Navy vessels and imprisoned two dozen crew members in the Sea of Azov, which treaties safeguard for both countries. Yet international disapproval of the aggression against Ukraine-only the most recent in Russia's five-year assault on the country-was tempered by the knee-jerk response of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Poroshenko called for the nationwide imposition of martial law the next day, which seemed to confirm the dire reputation of the country's democracy.

To many observers, Poroshenko's request seemed less aimed at shoring up Ukraine's military than exploiting its fragile institutions to ensure his own re-election in a vote scheduled for March 31. It was cited as the latest evidence for the common belief that Ukraine is really no better nor different than authoritarian Russia and thus not worth the democratic world's concern ... CLICK to read more

Two Big Problems with Ukraine's Elections that No One Else Has Spotted
By Mykola Vorobiov, Atlantic Council, Feb 1, 2019

There are many reasons to worry about Ukraine's elections this year. The 2019 elections may be as defining as those in 2014, when Ukraine left the Russian world for good. However, so far, most analysts have missed two factors that may play an outsized role. First, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov is not only a sitting minister but also a politician who wants to remain in power. The police force, which will oversee much of the conduct around the elections, report to him. Second, decentralization created more money and players on the local level, and these actors may exert a greater role as we approach the elections.

As a Ukrainian journalist with over ten years' experience covering elections, I started to worry when I read Interior Affairs Minister Arsen Avakov's recent blog.

Apart from the title, everything seemed ... CLICK to read more 

After Slip In Polls, Tymoshenko Goes Low In Ukraine Campaigning 
By Christopher Miller, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Feb 7, 2019 

KYIV -- As she slipped from the top spot in preelection polls, Ukrainian presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko has offered explosive and seemingly unsubstantiated claims this week in an apparent effort to climb back atop an expanding field.

The first accusation came on February 4, when the former prime minister accused President Petro Poroshenko's reelection campaign of attempting to buy Ukrainians' votes for 1,000 hryvnyas ($36). Without providing proof, she urged Ukraine's interior minister and prosecutor-general to launch probes into the matter.

Members of Poroshenko's party, in turn, accused Tymoshenko's camp of ... CLICK to read more  

The price of the joke or a Ukrainian take on "Welcome Mr. President!"
Ukraine Crisis Media Center, Feb 8, 2019

Five years after the Revolution of Dignity the time has come for Ukraine to renew its political elites. Presidential elections will take place on March 31, 2019; parliamentary elections will happen in autumn 2019. Candidates for the post of the President have already registered and the campaign is intensifying. In this context UCMC starts a series of articles about the top candidates for the post. We will be looking at the forecasts through opinion polls as well as at what processes within the Ukrainian society in place five years after the Revolution of Dignity make voters choose a certain candidate. It is key for us to understand what price the country is to pay for electing each one of them.

Opinion polling professionals claim: the 2019 Presidential elections are extraordinary. In contrast to all the previous presidential elections, this run does not have a distinct leader, as the number of voters that are undecided is extremely high. Besides, the Central Election Commission has registered a record number of candidates - over 90 persons have submitted registration requests.

Results of the latest opinion polls made public on January 31 surprised the society. The polls say the top candidate of the run is actor and showman Volodymyr Zelenskyi. Who is Zelenskyi? What do the numbers that the polls show actually mean? Are they trustworthy? UCMC analyzes the "Zelenskyi phenomenon" in the Ukrainian society and what the price of potentially electing him is.

Who is Volodymyr Zelenskyi and why is he running for President?  ...  CLICK to read more  

Ukraine's Economic Indicators Improving - Says President Poroshenko
Website of President Poroshenko, Feb 12, 2019

"The growth of the economy, the improvement of the investment climate and the development of investments are record-breaking in recent years, as I have already emphasized," President Petro Poroshenko said during a speech at the 15th annual Dragon Capital investment conference.

He noted that today Ukraine has inflation of "one figure", which previously seemed inaccessible during the war, and the economy shows growth.

Petro Poroshenko noted that Russian aggression had been rebuffed by Ukrainians not only due to the army, not only due to the volunteers. "The Kremlin has always tried and continues to try to strangle us economically, using our former dependence on the Russian market. We will not give them these opportunities. The Kremlin has provoked economic crisis. But Ukrainians have survived, recovered growth and now we are moving towards sustainable development," the President said.

The Head of State thanked everyone who  ... CLICK to read more

12 Ukraine Delegations Headed to U.S. through USUF
By U.S.-Ukraine Foundation
The U.S.-Ukraine Foundation (USUF) has been awarded a 2019 grant, totaling $110,000, from the Open World Leadership Center (OWLC) to administer 12 delegations of young, emerging Ukrainian leaders coming to the U.S. for the first time.

Young Ukrainian leaders learn about Santa Fe's solar energy development
The Open World Leadership Center, an independent service agency of the U.S. Library of Congress, administers the Open World program, one of the most effective U.S. exchange programs for countries of the post-Soviet era. The program has enabled more than 27,000 current and future leaders from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Ukraine, to meaningfully engage and interact with Members of Congress, Congressional staff, and thousands of other Americans, many of whom are the delegates' direct professional counterparts. 

Open World's national grantees, which are non-governmental organizations and non-profits, are competitively selected.  Local hosts provide professional grassroots programming as well as home stays for individual delegates. The work of the national grantees and local hosts are integral to the Open World program.

Ukrainian Open World delegates volunteering at a Cincinnati church to feed walk-ins

The Foundation has provided effective programming and family hosting for over 600 Ukrainians for the Open World program since 2006. 

The U.S.-Ukraine Foundation's role in administering "people-to-people" exchanges between the U.S. and Ukraine has been an integral part of its history.  The program component of "citizen diplomacy" has been a characteristic in its many projects, including most notably the U.S.-Ukraine Community Partnerships Project, issued through the U.S. Agency for International Development and the two U.S.-Ukraine Policy Dialogue Exchange Projects, issued through the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. 

Ukrainian delegates meet with Illinois State Senator James Clayborne, Jr. in Springfield, IL

The Foundation will be administering 12 delegations, with 6 persons per group, from Ukraine this year. Here is a listing of themed delegations and their hosting organizations:

Legislators/Legislative Issues - Budgets for Social Safety Net Issues; Santa Fe Council on International Relations, Santa Fe, NM
Legislators/Legislative Issues - Health Issues; Iowa Sister States in Des Moines, IA
Legislators/Legislative Issues - Health Issues; Global Ties Arkansas, Little Rock, AR

Legislators/Legislative Issues - Budget Issues/Appropriations; Iowa Sister States in Des Moines, IA.
Legislators/Legislative Issues - Education Issues; Springfield Commission on International Visitors, Springfield, IL
Energy Efficiency; Modesto Sister Cities International, Modesto, CA
Renewable Energy; U.S.-Ukraine Foundation in Washington, DC and hosting in Fairfax County, VA

Anti-Narcotics; Heartland Family Services in Omaha, Nebraska
Roma Issues; Global Ties Kansas City in Kansas City, Missouri

Internationalization of Education; Cincinnati-Kharkiv Sister City Partnership in Cincinnati, Ohio

Investigative Journalism; U.S.-Ukraine Foundation in Washington, DC and hosting in Montgomery County, MD
Media Literacy; USUF partner is still to be identified.

Russia calls US-Ukrainian plans to conduct exercises in the Black Sea 
'a dangerous idea'
Defence Blog, Feb 12, 2019

The Russian Foreign Ministry swiftly criticized a multinational maritime exercise Sea Breeze 2019 that will take place in the Black Sea.

"That's a dangerous idea, and that's the way we will view it. Prior to that, we will study the facts. They are viewed by us as a dangerous idea," said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin on Tuesday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry views plan to conduct U.S. and Ukraine co-hosted multinational maritime exercise in the Black Sea as a threat to stability in the region.

M eanwhile, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry earlier confirmed plans to begin ...  CLICK to read

U.S.-donated night vision devices were stolen from Ukrainian military
Defence Blog, Feb 12, 2019

U.S.-donated night vision devices were stolen from the Ukrainian military, according to the country's State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) ...  

Washington has provided Ukraine with more than $1 billion in "security assistance" funds since February 2014 ... 

The United States is a strategic partner for Ukraine. Out of the total amount of assistance that has been provided to Ukraine's Armed Forces, U.S. aid accounts for about 90 percent ...   CLICK to read  

The U.S.-Ukraine Foundation invites you to:

Honor the Heavenly Hundred and the Heavenly Thousands
Support the Surviving Families

A roundtable discussion with special guest:

Bonnie Carroll, President and Founder of TAPS

(Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors https://www.taps.org/ )

Bonnie Carroll is a 2015 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. A military veteran, she founded TAPS after the death of her husband in an Army C-12 plane crash in 1992.

TAPS offers compassionate care to all those grieving the loss of a loved one who died while serving in our Armed Forces or as a result of his or her service. Since 1994, TAPS has provided comfort and hope 24/7 through a national peer support network and connection to grief resources, all at no cost to surviving families and loved ones.

TAPS has assisted more than 85,000 surviving families, casualty officers and caregivers.

Bonnie has just returned from her third trip to Ukraine where she opened a chapter of TAPS in the city of Dnipro.
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Light Lunch 12:00- 12:30pm     Program 12:30 - 2:00pm
U.S.-Ukraine Foundation Conference Room
1090 Vermont Avenue NW - Suite 600
Washington, DC 20005
Seating is Limited!
Please RSVP by 12 noon on Tuesday, February 19 to info@usukraine.org





USUF will be representing Ukraine's Biotech sector in June 2019 ...
Join us in Philadelphia! 


Did you know your purchases can make a difference? AmazonSmile donates to the
 U.S.-Ukraine Foundation when you do your shoping at smile.amazon.com/ch/52-1778729.

Contact Information

Email:  info@usukraine.org    Tel:  202-789-4467    Fax:  202-478-0369    
Like us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter   View our videos on YouTube