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Political issues of Ukraine and USA
02 December 2019 14:38

The United States of America recognized Ukraine as an independent state on December 25, 1991. Diplomatic relations were established on January 3, 1992.

H.E. Valeriy Chaly is Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the United States of America. William B. Taylor is Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. of the United States Embassy in Ukraine.

On April 4, 2005 the Presidents of Ukraine and the U.S. with their Joint Statement have upgraded bilateral relations to the level of a Strategic Partnership. In December 2008, a key document - the Charter on Strategic Partnership - was signed.

The strategic partnership between Ukraine and the U.S. is one of the key priorities of Ukrainian foreign policy, along with its relations with Russia and the European Union.

The Ukraine-U.S. Strategic Partnership Commission (SPC), established in December, 2009 and co-chaired by Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and the U.S. Secretary of State, is a key inter-government body tasked with implementation of the Charter provisions and coordinating inter-agency bilateral mechanisms. Since that time there have been three sessions of the SPC.

The inter-agency mechanisms under the SPC umbrella deal with Trade and Investment, Energy and Nuclear Security, Nonproliferation and Export Control, Science and Technology, Rule of Law and Political Dialog, as well as Defense-related issues.

Ukraine is appreciative of the U.S. support for its integration with European structures and practical cooperation with NATO, and cooperation in the field of international security. The United States respects Ukraine’s non-aligned status and believes that Ukraine, like any other country, has the right to choose how its national security is ensured.

Supporting Ukraine’s practical cooperation with NATO, the U.S. provides assistance in implementing Annual National Programs which are crucial to reforming the Armed Forces according to the highest standards. In 2010, the United States supported Ukraine’s candidacy for the OSCE presidency in 2013.

On September 17-18, 2014, the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko made a working visit to the United States and had a meeting with the President of the United States Barack Obama. The agenda included bilateral meetings with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The President addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress.

The Presidents of Ukraine and the United States discussed a wide range of issues on bilateral cooperation in various spheres. In particular the issues of maintaining security, economy, and financial cooperation were addressed. The participants paid special attention to the topic of energy cooperation. The Ukrainian President noted the importance of support from the USA in the implementation of international coordination considering Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. Petro Poroshenko underlined that the only way towards de-escalation of the situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions is the Peace Plan that includes a ceasefire, liberation of all hostages, the withdrawal of Russian troops, the establishment of control over the border, and the prevention of the supply of Russian arms. The President of the United States expressed full support for the Peace Plan and announced that, in addition to the assistance granted to Ukraine by the United States in the amount of $240 million USD and $1 billion USD of financial guarantees, Ukraine would receive more practical assistance including enhanced financial support aimed at security goals and assistance in the economic, financial, and energy spheres. President Obama stressed that the U.S. would lead the international community, and join the EU in combating Russian aggression.

The legal framework for bilateral cooperation has advanced considerably in recent years. Ukraine and the U.S. have concluded 143 agreements.

Ukraine’s priority issues for bilateral cooperation in the energy field include the attraction of U.S. know-how in energy resource exploration (including shale gas and coal-bed methane), investment in Ukraine’s energy sector (in particular in gas and oil exploration on the Black Sea shelf), and further cooperation in the diversification of nuclear energy fuel for Ukrainian Nuclear Power Plants. As a result of tenders in 2012 U.S. companies Exxon Mobil and Chevron will participate in Ukraine’s energy sector.  

The United States ranks 12th in terms of direct investments in Ukraine’s economy.

The U.S. remains the largest donor of technical assistance to Ukraine, especially in the framework of Chornobyl projects. The United States granted over $360 million for Chornobyl confinement projects, including $123 million – as a result of the Kyiv Summit on Secure and Innovative Use of Nuclear Energy (April, 2011).

The main efforts of military cooperation are focused on U.S. Defense Department assistance for the implementation of defense reform in Ukraine, improvement of Joint response forces within the national Armed Forces, development and modernization of military training facilities, increasing financing of military assistance programs, improvement of inter-operability level of the defense bodies of both countries, joint military training exercises, and international anti-terrorism operations.

Important areas of cooperation include implementation of a number of projects under the G8 initiative “Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction”, realization of the NATO/PfP Trust Fund Project to eliminate surplus small weapons and munitions in Ukraine, bilateral negotiation process regarding funding of SS-24 solid rocket propellant liquidation program, implementation of a number of projects related to strengthening the physical protection of nuclear materials, as well as Ukraine’s potential in countering illegal trafficking in nuclear and radioactive materials.

Bilateral cooperation in the sphere of science and technology, as well as in space exploration and rocket building, remains a high priority for both countries.

The United States is Ukraine’s leading partner in the field of health care, particularly in fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and avian and pandemic flu. A number of programs involving use of U.S. medical technologies to help Ukrainian children and persons suffering from grave diseases are being implemented. A number of U.S. state and private funds are financing the supply of medical equipment to Ukraine. The United States played an important role in thwarting the H1N1 pandemic in Ukraine.

U.S.-Ukraine inter-parliamentary cooperation is also characterized by positive dynamics. The Ukrainian Congressional Caucus unites more than 30 U.S. lawmakers and plays a significant role in deepening our bilateral relations. The Ukraine-U.S. group for parliamentary cooperation in Verkhovna Rada consists of over 100 members. Ukrainian legislators frequently visit the U.S. capital within the framework of the inter-parliamentary exchange program sponsored by the House Democracy Assistance Commission.

The fact that there are more than 900,000 Ukrainians living in the United States is an important factor for the more efficient realization of Ukraine-U.S. cooperation potential (the U.S. media, published in Ukrainian, state that there are 2 million Ukrainians). That is why it is a high priority for Ukraine to strengthen relations with the Ukrainian community and ensure that its ethnic and cultural needs are met.

Twenty-three Ukrainian and American cities enjoy fruitful sister-cities cooperation. 

Since Ukraine became independent in the early 1990s, the U.S.-Ukrainian inter-parliamentary dialogue has been actively developing. The first parliamentary delegation of the independent Ukraine visited Washington DC in October 1991, two months after the declaration of independence, and was led by then Speaker of the Ukrainian parliament L.Kravchuk. Members of the U.S. Congress and the Verkhovna Rada were actively involved in establishing a network of bilateral relations. It was back in those days when Senators R. Lugar, J. McCain, M. McConnell, as well as House Representatives C. Weldon and M. Kaptur became champions of the U.S.-Ukraine relations.

Ukrainian MPs established a Ukraine-U.S. Group for Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation, which has become one of the largest in the Verkhovna Rada.

In 1997, the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus (in the U.S. House of Representatives) was founded. Creation of the Caucus was supported by the Ukrainian diaspora in the U.S. and was initiated by Rep. S. Levin, J. Fox, L. Slaughter and B. Schaffer. This important initiative was announced to the public at a reception commemorating the first anniversary of the adoption of the Ukrainian Constitution, held at the Embassy of Ukraine in the United States.

The Ukrainian Congressional Committee of America and Head of its Washington branch M. Sawkiw made a significant contribution to further development of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus.

The Caucus is now one of the largest in the U.S. Congress. Currently, it consists of nearly five dozen House members representing both the Republican and Democratic parties. The Ukrainian Caucus is led by four co-chairs – Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Andy Harris (R-MD), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), and Sander Levin (D-MI). Most of the Caucus members have large Ukrainian constituencies in their home districts. Some of them, Marcy Kaptur and Andy Harris for example, are of Ukrainian descend.

The goal of the Caucus is to promote the bilateral U.S.-Ukraine cooperation, including through legislation. Another goal is to facilitate the awareness of members of the Congress about political, economic, social, and cultural events occurring in Ukraine. Special attention is paid to supporting Ukraine in democratization and market-oriented reforms, as well as to shaping the U.S. Congress official position regarding Ukraine’s success in their implementation.

Among important achievements to which the Caucus contributed one should mention the U.S. annual financial support for Ukraine, adoption of legislation to create a Washington DC memorial honoring the victims of the 1932-1933 Holodomor-genocide, and Ukraine's graduation from the provisions of the U.S. Jackson-Vanik amendment.

In February 2015, the Senate Ukraine Caucus was created. It has been co-chaired by Sen. R. Portman (R-OH) and Sen. R. Durbin (D-IL). There are currently around two dozen members of the Caucus.

Members of the Caucuses meet regularly with representatives of the Ukrainian Government and members of the Ukrainian Parliament. They also participate actively in events on the Hill dedicated to supporting Ukraine. One such example are the Ukrainian Days in the U.S. Congress. Active position of the Ukrainian community in the United States is an important factor in the Caucuses’ work.

The Maidan events, establishment of a new Government, election of new Verkovna Rada and President of Ukraine on the one hand, and attempted occupation of Crimea and Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine on the other, drew a lot of attention in the U.S. Congress. During the Maidan, U.S. Senators and Congressmen condemned the use of force and fire arms against the protesters, as well as supported the European aspirations of the Ukrainian people. The illegal attempts of the Russian Federation to occupy Crimea and the Kremlin’s military aggression in Donbas have mobilized the U.S. Congress in a strong bipartisan unity in support of our nation. Since February 2014, Members of the U.S. Congress have introduced dozens of relevant draft bills and resolutions. More than a dozen of them have been passed, including bills “Support for the Sovereignty, Integrity, Democracy, and Economic Stability of Ukraine”, “United States international programming to Ukraine and neighboring regions”,“Ukraine Freedom Support Act”, and “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act”.

As of today, the US Congress is overwhelmingly united in providing Ukraine with meaningful financial and military support, including lethal weapons of a defensive nature.

Since February 2014, an unprecedented number of Congressional delegations have visited Ukraine to show their support for the democratic transformations and the Ukrainian people’s fight against Russian aggression.

At the same time, Ukrainian parliamentarians have also engaged in an expanding and deepening dialog with their colleagues in the United States.

On June 15, 2017 Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Andriy Parubiy and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan signed a renewed U.S. Congress - Rada Parliamentary Exchange memorandum.

According to the document, the two parliaments have agreed to continue to cooperate to help promote the expansion of political, economic, security, humanitarian and cultural cooperation between the United States and Ukraine.

The U.S. Congress - Rada Parliamentary Exchange will also be used to foster inter-parliamentary collaboration between the United States and Ukraine in addressing the unprecedented challenges posed by Russian  aggression against Ukraine by helping Ukraine protect its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as support and encourage Ukraine’s efforts to introduce fundamental reforms and modernize its economy and thereby build a prosperous, democratic society.

The inter-parliamentary exchange will also encourage the bilateral cooperation to strengthen Ukraine’s vital role in the defense of Europe and as an outpost of Western civilization.

It will also renew its focus on items of discussion, which encompass foreign relations, security, trade, industry, innovation, infrastructure, space exploration, health-care, the environment, agriculture, natural resources, and any other matter important to the promotion of close ties between the United States and Ukraine.

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