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Cablegate: Ukraine: Low-Key Reaction to Duma Statement On

VZCZCXRO2003
RR RUEHIK RUEHLN RUEHPOD RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHKV #1085/01 1571314
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 051314Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5750
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KYIV 001085

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MARR PGOV PREL RS UP WTO
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: LOW-KEY REACTION TO DUMA STATEMENT ON
NATO/BLACK SEA FLEET

REF: A. MOSCOW 1568
B. 07 KYIV 3101

1. (SBU) Summary. The June 4 Russian Duma statement calling
for termination of the 1997 Ukraine-Russia Friendship Treaty
in response to Ukrainian NATO membership has elicited
relatively restrained responses in Kyiv. President
Yushchenko, on the eve of his departure for the CIS Summit in
St. Petersburg, noted Ukraine's respect for the Russian
nation and people and characterized as a mistake any move to
revise the strategic partnership as enshrined in the
Friendship Treaty. PM Tymoshenko characterized the Duma
action as "inadequate" and Rada faction leader Volodymyr
Lytvyn saw it as "an emotional statement" that should be
addressed through an inter-parliamentary meeting. The latest
salvo of exchanges on NATO membership was triggered by
President Yushchenko's May 20 decree ordering, in preparation
for the 2017 expiration of the Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF)
basing agreement, a draft act on termination of the bilateral
agreements governing the BSF basing in Crimea. An MFA
statement characterized the draft act as a legal requirement
in the process leading to termination of the agreements. End
Summary.


Restrained Response
-------------------

2. (SBU) While the Duma statement generated a flurry of
critical popular press, the response from government leaders
has been relatively restrained. President Yushchenko,
preparing for the CIS Summit in St. Petersburg and his
initial meeting with President Medvedev, emphasized that he
considered the bilateral relationship with Russia to be a
"strategic partnership that is enshrined in the Friendship
Treaty." He characterized as a political mistake any action
that tried to "revise" the relationship, and stressed
Ukraine's "high respect for the Russian nation and Russian
people." Yushchenko reiterated that Ukraine was a sovereign
state that would build its foreign policy and security
relationships based on national interest, while restating his
guarantee (as per the Constitution) that no foreign military
bases would be stationed on Ukraine's territory.

3. (SBU) PM Tymoshenko called the Duma action "inadequate,"
noting that "every radical step simply worsens the situation
between our countries." She underlined that her government
was working to maintain good cooperation with Moscow, moving
into soccer diplomacy mode by adding that all of Ukraine had
supported the St. Petersburg based club Zenit in its UEFA cup
win. Rada faction leader Voldymyr Lytvyn characterized the
Duma statement as "emotional", calling for an
inter-parliamentary discussion of differences and noting that
NATO membership was not a near-term possibility in any event.
Statements from other political leaders have balanced
between irritation at the Duma action and calls for calm
dialogue. Former PM and current opposition leader
Yanukovych, currently in Moscow and reportedly meeting with
President Medvedev and PM Putin, has not reacted publicly.

Continued Push on BSF Removal
-----------------------------

4. (SBU) Yushchenko and FM Ohryzko have continued to push
hard on the BSF basing issue, leading to delivery in
mid-April 2008 of a memorandum to the Russian MFA outlining
timelines and measures to insure withdrawal of the BSF by the
May 2017 agreement deadline. The MFA posted a statement on
May 24 outlining the reasons for President Yushchenko's
decree, noting in particular the legal need for an act
terminating the respective agreements governing basing and
emphasizing that Ukraine was not considering extension of the
agreement. The inclusion of language that precluded the
possibil

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