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2006-03-17 15:23:00
Embassy Kyiv
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DE RUEHKV #1062/01 0761523
P 171523Z MAR 06
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KIEV 001062 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/17/2016

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires, a.i., for reasons 1.4 (b,d).

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KIEV 001062



E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/17/2016

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires, a.i., for reasons 1.4 (b,d).

1. (C) Summary: During EUR DAS David Kramer's March 13
meetings in Kiev, Deputy Defense Minister Polyakov said that
while security issues in the Ukraine-Russia relationship were
secondary to political and military aspects, his Ministry
(MoD) tried to play a "good cop" role by reinforcing a
productive defense relationship with its northeastern
neighbor. Russia, however, was having difficulty adjusting
to a more independent Ukraine, such as in negotiations on
arrangements for the Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF) presence
in Crimea. The Russian military was hesitating over a
Ukrainian offer of joint training at Ukraine's Sevastopol
Naval Institute and, for the first time, had canceled an
annual bilateral naval exercise. Ironically, at the same
time Russia was working to keep Ukraine out of NATO, Russia
was reinforcing its own relationship with the alliance,
Polyakov observed. On Belarus, MFA 2nd Territorial
Department Director Anatoliy Ponomarenko said the GOU would
assess the conduct of the Belarusan presidential election to
determine whether to proceed with planning of a meeting
between the two countries' presidents intended to mark the
20th anniversary of the April 1986 Chornobyl accident. If
Ukraine did agree to a summit, it would extract a promise,
inter alia, that the Belarusan government would not suppress
the political opposition. Kramer urged that Ukraine not hold
the meeting if violence were used in the election and also
asked Ponomarenko and Polyakov to pass a warning to Minsk not
to use violence. MFA was considering hosting a conference on
democracy in Belarus. End summary.

The Northeastern Neighbor

2. (C) Deputy DefMin Polyakov told Kramer March 13 that
military issues in the Ukrainian-Russian relationship were
secondary to political and economic aspects; the Defense

Ministry had no problems with the Russian military and was
able to play the "good cop" role in fostering good relations.
Polyakov commented that Russia was facing the classic
dilemma of adjusting from its former status as an empire and
a superpower and seeking to find its place and the way
forward. Ukraine and Russia were like divorced spouses still
sharing a communal apartment, Polyakov joked. In the
Kravchuk era (1991-94), Ukraine's formal policy toward Russia
was tough and rigid, but unofficially it was weak,
particularly on issues like the Black Sea Fleet (BSF). In
the Kuchma era (1995-2004), both official and unofficial
approaches to Russia were marked by weakness. Under
Yushchenko, Ukraine was attempting to assert a strong
position, defending Ukrainian interests.

3. (C) Polyakov stressed that Ukrainian officials knew that
it was in Ukraine's interest to have cooperation with Russia;
it was equally important that the U.S. and NATO have fruitful
relations with Russia, which could help break down
stereotypes within Russia and Ukraine. Ukraine had suggested
that the Russian BSF consider training opportunities at
Ukraine's Sevastopol Naval Institute, but "we see hesitation
in the eyes of our partners, an unwillingness to engage on
the details." Russia had cancelled the annual bilateral
naval exercise for 2006 for the first time since the 1997 BSF
treaty had been signed. At the same time it was reducing
activities with Ukraine, Russia was trying to accelerate
cooperation with NATO member countries. Russia's presence at
NATO dwarfed that of Ukraine 30 officers to 8, and its
ability to contribute a cruiser and three support ships to
Operation Active Endeavor outstripped Ukraine's modest
aspiration to establish an information point and offer a
frigate once it was seaworthy.

4. (C) DAS Kramer stressed that the USG wished to see good
relations between Ukraine and Russia, since no one benefited
from tensions. Washington did not make comparisons between
the two countries' ability to contribute to operations, he
stressed; the U.S. was grateful for Ukraine's many
contributions to coalition operations, particularly in Iraq.

Black Sea Fleet

5. (C) Regarding January tensions over the BSF and
lighthouses, Polyakov suggested Russia hoped that the March
26 elections would change Ukrainian policy dynamics, if not
in Ukraine overall, then at least in Crimea. Polyakov
praised the MFA's work in pushing for clarification on a
number of BSF issues, because in the previous environment of
a lack of clarity that had existed since the 1997 treaty was
signed, Russia had achieved much at Ukraine's expense. The
first Ukrainian-Russian BSF meeting in February, chaired by
DFMs Ohryzko on the Ukrainian side and Karazin on the

KIEV 00001062 002 OF 003

Russian, had revealed Russia's psychological difficulty in
accepting clear and logical GOU positions, without invented
facts, in support of a request to Russia to fulfill the terms
of the 1997 agreement. One of the underlying Ukrainian
points had been: since you (Moscow) raised the issue of
market-based pricing approaches replacing brotherly terms in
gas contracts, there is no reason why the same rationale and
terms should not now apply to BSF basing terms as well.

6. (C) Polyakov stressed that clarifying the terms of the BSF
presence in Ukraine was important to Ukraine's aspiration to
join NATO. As the Ukrainian delegation had told the
Russians: if you pledge to respect our laws, please respect
them; if you pledge to transfer control of certain objects,
please transfer control; if you pledge to coordinate BSF
movements, please coordinate.

Belarus: Deteriorating Bilateral Relations

7. (C) MFA department director Ponomarenko said MFA had just
released a statement protesting the previous day's (March 12)
arrest in Minsk of eight Ukrainians and detention of two
Fifth Channel journalists. The Belarusan authorities had
inadvertently made even clearer the government's oppressive
nature, since the television broadcast had continued as the
police led away the crying female announcer. MFA had also
prepared a diplomatic note critical of the Belarusan police
action. Since the new Ukrainian ambassador to Belarus was
due to present his credentials March 13, Ponomarenko joked
that the ambassador could deliver the note directly to
Lukashenka. Turning more serious, he said delivery of
diplomatic note would occur after the credentials ceremony
and an appointment with an appropriately high-ranking
Belarusan MFA official. FM Tarasyuk was attempting to speak
by telephone with his Belarusan counterpart, Sergei Martynov,
but the latter had so far been unavailable.

Future Policy

8. (C) Ponomarenko noted the Ukrainian approach to Belarus
differed from the USG's in that the GOU did not believe
Belarusan isolation was productive. In her meeting with
Tarasyuk, the Secretary had expressed dissatisfaction with
the Ukrainian position, telling Tarasyuk that Lukashenka
needed "to clean up his act." For the future, the Ukrainian
MFA was pursuing two options, still continuing to explore the
possibility of holding a meeting between the two countries'
presidents and also to hold a conference somewhere in Ukraine
on support for democracy in Belarus. Ponomarenko said the
GOU had not yet taken a final decision on a presidential
summit meeting, which, if it took place, would occur in the
context of the 20th anniversary of the April 1986 Chornobyl
disaster. The GOU decision would factor in the conduct and
possible use of violence during the March 19 Belarusan
presidential election.

9. (C) Any meeting of the two presidents would take place at
the end of April, either in Chornobyl or Slavutych both in
Ukraine and near the Ukraine-Belarus border, Ponomarenko
continued. The Ukrainian government was considering setting
two preconditions to the meeting. First, the Belarusan
government would have to commit to not suppressing the
Belarusan opposition. Second, the Belarusan government would
have to commit in writing that it would sign an agreement to
simplify the transfer of people and goods across a narrow
sliver of Belarus separating Slavutych (where many workers on
the Chornobyl facility and their families live) and Chornobyl
Nuclear Power Station. A possible third precondition might
be Belarusan agreement to the opening of a Ukrainian
information and cultural center in Minsk. The MFA would also
arm President Yushchenko with further "political signals" to
convey to Lukashenka. MFA officials were consulting closely
with the EU as they considered whether to hold the meeting
and would also be careful to consult with the USG.

10. (C) Ponomarenko said there was no doubt that the vote
tally would show that Lukashenka had won the election.
Ukraine, the U.S., the EU, EU member states, and perhaps even
Russia, were not happy with Lukashenka, but Russia was having
difficulty finding an acceptable and viable replacement to
him. In the meantime, Russia continued to prop up Lukashenka
by providing cheap natural gas to Belarus. With no oligarchs
in Belarus, a significant share of Belarusan enterprises'
profits was being channeled into the Presidential
Administration fund, which Lukashenka was using to boost the
average Belarusan salary to USD 300 per month, higher than
the Ukrainian average.

11. (C) DAS Kramer said he understood the difficulties that

KIEV 00001062 003 OF 003

countries that border Belarus have in dealing with the
country. Nevertheless, on March 9, he had provided testimony
on Belarus to the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and A/S Fried had
spoken recently at CSIS on the markedly contrasting Ukrainian
and Belarusan elections. Both he and Fried had spoken
forcefully and bluntly about Belarusan corruption and
electoral abuses. The U.S. was pleased with its close
cooperation with the EU on Belarus and appreciated the
Ukrainian MFA's statements supportive of EU positions. The
recent detentions of Ukrainian citizens demonstrated the need
to speak out and deplore the situation in Belarus. Kramer
urged caution on holding meetings at the highest level,
saying that a meeting of presidents should not take place if
violence were used during the election and would appreciate a
warning to Minsk from Ukraine against the use of violence.
Kramer stressed the importance of not inadvertently sending
any mixed messages to Minsk.

The Defense Ministry Approach

12. (C) On Belarus, Deputy DefMin Polyakov noted that the
Ukrainian military again played the "good cop," cultivating
relationships with the Belarusan military for the long-term
that mirrored NATO engagement of Belarus under Partnership
for Peace. Defense Minister Hrytsenko had visited twice in
2005, once on a counterpart visit and once accompanying PM
Yekhanurov. The Belarus Defense Minister had visited Ukraine
in late 2005 to mark Belarus' purchase of Ukrainian trainer
jets. Ukraine was also paying for Belarus personnel to
participate in the Rapid Trident exercise, Polyakov added.
Kramer noted U.S. concerns were not with the Belarusan
military but with the security services; we were worried
about the potential for use of force/violence around the
March 19 presidential elections. Kramer said he had passed a
clear message while visiting Minsk in February that, were
violence to occur, there would be consequences. Kramer asked
if Polyakov and the Ukrainian military could also pass this
message through their channels. The more the Belarusans
heard this coordinated message from neighbors, the better.

13. (U) DAS Kramer did not have a chance to clear this

14. (U) Visit Embassy Kiev's classified website: