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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06KIEV2039
2006-05-26 08:45:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Kyiv
Cable title:  

UKRAINE: DEFENSE MINISTER GETS AHEAD OF FOREIGN

Tags:   PREL  PBTS  PHUM  EAID  NATO  MARR  PINR  BO  UP 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO8787
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #2039/01 1460845
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 260845Z MAY 06
FM AMEMBASSY KIEV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9517
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KIEV 002039 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

HQ EUCOM FOR J-5 AND FPA AMB MARY CARLIN YATES

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/25/2016
TAGS: PREL PBTS PHUM EAID NATO MARR PINR BO UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: DEFENSE MINISTER GETS AHEAD OF FOREIGN
MINISTRY ON BELARUS

REF: A. KIEV 1937


B. 05 KIEV 4699

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

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KIEV 002039

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

HQ EUCOM FOR J-5 AND FPA AMB MARY CARLIN YATES

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/25/2016
TAGS: PREL PBTS PHUM EAID NATO MARR PINR BO UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: DEFENSE MINISTER GETS AHEAD OF FOREIGN
MINISTRY ON BELARUS

REF: A. KIEV 1937


B. 05 KIEV 4699

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


1. (C) Summary: In a May 22 meeting with EUR DAS Kramer,
Foreign Minister Tarasyuk said a meeting of the presidents of
Ukraine and Belarus might be possible if Belarus were to make
favorable decisions on issues of importance to Ukraine.
Tarasyuk added that the Ukrainian government was preparing to
accept into Ukrainian universities Belarusan students who had
been expelled from university for political activities, and
would host an informal meeting on Belarus in September. In a
May 23 meeting with Kramer and Vice Presidential Deputy
National Security Adviser Joseph Wood, Defense Minister
Hrytsenko defended his decision to proceed with a May 26
meeting with Belarusan Defense Minister Maltsev. He said it
was too late to cancel the meeting, and the Belarusan
Ministry of Defense had played no role in suppressing
political opposition in Belarus. Hrytsenko provided examples
of the Ukrainian military's dependence on Belarus for
critical supplies and maintenance. Kramer said the USG would
not speak out against the meeting, but urged Hrytsenko to
ensure that the Belarusan government did not exploit the fact
of the meeting to suggest a rift had occurred between the
U.S. and Ukraine with respect to Belarus. End summary.


2. (U) EUR DAS David Kramer met Foreign Minister Borys
Tarasyuk May 22 to discuss a range of topics (septels),
including Belarus. Second Territorial Department Director
Anatoliy Ponomarenko and U.S.A.-Canada Desk Acting Chief
Yuriy Nykytyuk sat in on the Ukrainian side. DCM and PolOff
accompanied Kramer. On May 23, Kramer and Vice Presidential

Deputy National Security Adviser Joseph Wood, accompanied by
DATT and PolOff, discussed Belarus with Defense Minister
Anatoliy Hrytsenko and his first assistant, Oleksiy Melnyk.

Tarasyuk: A continuing balancing act
--------------


3. (C) When Kramer expressed appreciation for the decision
not to have President Yushchenko meet with Belarusan
President Lukashenka in connection with the 20th anniversary
of the Chornobyl disaster, Tarasyuk said the Ukrainian
government had taken into account the negative consequences
of such a meeting but warned that a Ukraine-Belarus summit
was not entirely off the agenda. Ukraine had important
bilateral issues with Belarus at stake, such as formal
demarcation of the Ukraine-Belarus border and the facilitated
passage of workers living in Slavutych across a strip of
Belarusan territory to work at the decommissioned Chornobyl
nuclear power station site. Tarasyuk noted that resolution
of the two issues would be impossible without Lukashenka's
personal approval. Tarasyuk also said Yushchenko's offer,
made during the August 2005 Commonwealth of Independent
States (CIS) summit in Kazan, Russia, to have Ukraine act as
a conduit of communication between Belarus and the European
Union was also still on the table. Lukashenka had responded
positively to the offer initially, but the Belarusans had not
followed up.


4. (C) Tarasyuk averred that the Ukrainian government's
generally critical stance toward Belarus would remain
unchanged, despite domestic opposition not only from the
Communist Party but also more importantly from Party of
Regions and some of its partners that had not entered
Parliament. Ukraine would continue its cooperation with the
U.S. and EU, including by hosting the next informal meeting
on Belarus in Kiev in September. The Ukrainian government
was also modifying its requirements so as to allow Belarusan
students, expelled from university for their political
activity, to study in Ukraine.


5. (C) Tarasyuk and Ponomarenko were both surprised and
concerned when DAS Kramer informed them about a press story
that Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Hrytsenko would meet
with his Belarusan counterpart May 26. They later told us
separately that they had confirmed the information and
relayed their reservations about the planned meeting to the
Ministry of Defense.

Hrytsenko: Engagement, not isolation
--------------

KIEV 00002039 002 OF 003




6. (C) On May 23, Kramer expressed concern to Hyrtsenko that
the meeting would take place notably soon after the Belarusan
government's poor handling of the country's presidential
race. The U.S. and EU continued with their strict policy of
no engagement with senior Belarusan officials. Outside of
Russia, in fact, Hrytsenko might be the first senior official
of another country to meet with a Belarusan counterpart since
the election. While Kramer said he understood that special
circumstances might require Hrytsenko to go through with the
meeting, he urged Hrytsenko to ensure that the meeting take
place with the lowest profile possible. He suggested
Hrytsenko request that his Belarusan counterpart, Colonel
General Leonid Maltsev, provide assurances the Belarusan
media would downplay the event and that Hrytsenko warn that
the May 26 meeting would be the last between the two defense
ministers if Maltsev did not honor his commitment.


7. (C) Hrytsenko said the meeting had been scheduled since
the fall of 2005 and that he preferred not to pull out at the
last minute, especially since there was no evidence the
Belarusan Ministry of Defense had played any part in
suppression of the democratic opposition in Belarus. (Note:
Hrytsenko made this same argument during his May 18 meeting
with Ambassador -- ref A.) Hrytsenko added that he was
personally grateful that Maltsev, after their November 2005
meeting (ref B), had publicly stated that Ukraine's entry
into NATO would not harm bilateral, military-to-military
relations or technical cooperation between the two countries.
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry had used the statement to
counter Russia's claims to the contrary. The Belarusan
statements were also an element of the Ukrainian government's
public awareness campaign, which aimed to reassure the
Ukrainian people that NATO membership would not negatively
affect employment or the competitiveness of Ukraine's
military-industrial complex.


8. (C) Hrytsenko noted that Maltsev could potentially provide
a positive influence within Lukashenka's inner circle. He
asked rhetorically, what was more productive in the case of
Belarus, Uzbekistan, and other countries -- isolation or
engagement? Ukraine, under Kuchma, had been in danger of
being isolated but continuing engagement with the West
through the NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) program had laid
the groundwork for the Orange Revolution. Had Ukraine been
isolated, we would not be talking about a NATO Membership
Action Plan (MAP) now, argued Hrytsenko. When Hrytsenko had
spoken to then-NATO Secretary General Javier Solana about the
Belarusan Defense Ministry's interest in improving
interoperability with NATO and perhaps making a contribution
to U.N. peacekeeping operations, however, Solana had been
clear that NATO would not escalate Belarus' relationship with
NATO to a Planning and Review Process (PARP).


9. (C) Hrytsenko stressed the need for good relations with
the Belarusan military due to the two militaries'
interdependence dating to the Soviet period. For example, he
said, the Ukrainian military purchased "tens of millions"
(either liters or possibly Ukrainian hrvynia) of jet fuel
from Belarus. The only other source of the fuel had been a
refinery in Russia that was now formally prohibited from
selling its product for use by military, vice civilian,
aircraft. If the Belarusan source for fuel were closed,
Hrytsenko noted, the military fleet would be grounded, with
attendant consequences for Ukraine's ability to meet its NATO
commitments. Furthermore, the Ukrainian military sent its
aircraft to a repair facility located in Minsk, and Ukrainian
industry sold military aircraft to the Belarusan military.
Hrytsenko said that, in addition to these particular
examples, other cases of Ukrainian military and industrial
reliance on Belarus could be cited.


10. (C) Kramer noted the U.S. had opposed a suggestion from
some European NATO allies that Belarus be removed from PfP.
He reiterated that Hrytsenko should take care that the Minsk
propaganda machine not exploit the meeting of defense
ministers to suggest that a rift had occurred between Ukraine
and the United States. The USG had praised the Ukrainian
decision not to hold a presidential summit, but Kramer said
he understood that a defense ministerial was a different
level. The USG had recently criticized an Interpol decision
to hold a meeting in Minsk, but it would not speak out
against the Hrytsenko-Maltsev meeting.


KIEV 00002039 003 OF 003



11. (U) OVP DNSA Wood cleared this cable.


12. (U) Visit Embassy Kiev's classified website:
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev.
Gwaltney