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09KYIV36 2009-01-06 15:54:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv
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DE RUEHKV #0036/01 0061554
R 061554Z JAN 09
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L KYIV 000036 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/06/2019

Classified By: Ambassador William Taylor. Reasons 1.4 (b/d).


1. (C) Reflecting the poor state of bilateral ties beyond the
natural gas crisis, the Russia-Ukraine presidential
commission charged with coordinating the overall relationship
and resolving disputes has been inactive since the August
Georgia-Russia conflict. Russia refuses to engage with
Ukraine on key issues, such as any planning for removal of
the Russian Black Sea Fleet from Sevastopol, despite the
GOU's announcement that Russia must withdraw by 2017. A
Yushchenko initiative to invigorate Russia policy through
establishment of an "Interagency Strategic Group" among
Ukrainian Ministries has, to date, had no impact. End

Presidential Commission Inactive


2. (C) Embassy met with Volodimir Ivanov, acting Director
General for Foreign Affairs at the Ukrainian National
Security and Defense Council (NSDC). Ivanov noted that the
Ukraine-Russia Presidential Commission, established in 2005,
had not met since the August 2008 Russia-Georgia conflict.
The entire structure, involving a range of working groups and
sub-groups on security, economic, political and other issues,
is inactive. Ivanov speculated that the Kremlin, having
given up on Yushchenko, may be avoiding engagement until a
more Moscow-friendly leadership emerges in Kyiv.

GOU Forms "Interagency Strategic Group"


3. (SBU) Ivanov pointed out that in order to demonstrate
Ukraine's commitment to improving the bilateral relationship,
Yushchenko announced December 1 the creation of a new
Ukrainian "Interagency Strategic Group." Its task is to
energize the GOU interagency to make the Bilateral Commission
process productive and to begin tackling the substantial
backlog of issues that have languished in the various

4. (SBU) Headed by National Security and Defense Council
Secretary Raysa Bohatryeva, the GOU Interagency Strategic
Group includes the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defense and
Finance; the heads of the intelligence services; the head of
Naftohaz (the state gas monopoly); and the Industrial Policy
Minister. Konstantin Gryshchenko, Ukraine's Ambassador to
Russia (who serves concurrently as First Deputy Secretary of
the NSDC) serves as deputy chairman. In announcing the
Group's formation, Bohatryeva said that the GOU sought to get
beyond the pattern of tit-for-tat accusatory statements
coming from each country's Foreign Ministry and seek
"constructive interaction" at all levels.

5. (C) Ivanov noted that Russian observers had greeted the
creation of the GOU internal coordinating group with
skepticism, calling it window dressing. He admitted that
there is no specific Bilateral Commission meeting toward
which the group would initially be working. Reflecting on
the possible role of the Russian Ambassador to Ukraine,
Ivanov noted that Chernomyrdin is getting on in years and
that his interest has mainly been in economic and trade
issues, in particular, natural gas. Ivanov did not foresee
much of a role for Chernomyrdin.

Black Sea Fleet


6. (C) Ivanov lamented that the GOR refused to discuss key
bilateral issues, such as modalities for the withdrawal of
the Russian Black Sea Fleet in 2017. He said that Russia
continues to ignore fleet movement notification procedures
imposed in July 2008, which were reiterated in August by
presidential decree, and then again in the autumn by the
Cabinet of Ministers. Ivanov hoped the GOU Interagency
Strategic Group would be able to elevate this issue to a
higher level in the Bilateral Commission, where it currently
falls under a subcommittee.

Russian Identity Documents


7. (C) Ivanov said that the issue, as reported in the press,
of Moscow issuing special identity cards which would qualify
citizens of the Former Soviet Union for residency, work, and
educational benefits in Russia was something to watch. The
question of ambiguous or dual nationality is an issue for
Ukraine with a number of other countries, including Poland

and Romania, but has special significance with Russia. He
recalled an earlier Russian "technopark initiative" that
provided incentives to attract young specialists and
scientists to relocate to Russia. Ukraine would monitor the
development of the identity cards. That said, Ivanov
observed that reports that Russia had been recently issuing
large numbers of passports to Ukrainians were exaggerated.
There are many Russian passport holders, but most got their
passports in the 1990s.

Medvedev's Security Initiative and post-START


8. (C) Russia and Ukraine are also at odds on Security
Architecture, Ivanov noted. Ivanov said he had few details
on Medvedev's concept; what little he did know about it, he
did not like. The goal for Ukraine in the post-Georgia
environment, he said, is to clarify the nature of its
security guarantees. The 1994 Trilateral US-Russia-Ukraine
Agreement and the broader Budapest Memorandum on Security
Assurances were linked to START and Ukraine's decision to
give up nuclear weapons. In a post-START environment, Ivanov
said, a new trilateral (perhaps multilateral) document is
needed with new commitments and guarantees. He noted that
the 2008 Georgia events plus slower momentum on MAP leaves
Ukraine with "much to think about" on security.



9. (C) While our conversation with Ivanov preceded the
current natural gas crisis, his comments reflect the overall
disconnect between the two sides that characterizes the gas
issue. Ivanov seemed to be of the view that Russia has
written off Yushchenko and put any interest in improving
relations with Ukraine on ice until Ukraine can present a
more amenable (pro-Kremlin) partner.