Cablegate: Ukraine: Low Profile for Security Issues in The

DE RUEHKV #0168/01 0291306
R 291306Z JAN 10

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KYIV 000168


E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/28/2020

REF: A. KYIV 0107
B. KYIV 0128

Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft, Reason 1.4 (b,d)

1. (C) Summary. In contrast to the 2004 elections, issues of
national security and defense remain notable by their absence
in this year's presidential campaign. Ukrainians are focused
on the economic crisis and the election's potential for
reconfiguring Ukraine's political power relationships. All
candidates have supported a transition to a professional army
and the abolition of compulsory military service, but it was
not until the final days of the first round that opposition
leader Yanukovich and Prime Minister Tymoshenko elaborated
much detail in their positions. Several candidates said that
traditional European security and political structures have
exhausted their potential. Only third place finisher Tihipko
and President Yushchenko regularly highlighted strategic and
foreign policy issues in their public statements. Anatoliy
Hrytsenko, a former Minister of Defense and head of the Rada
Defense Committee, appeared in fatigues in his campaign
posters, but his low-profile campaign hardly registered with
voters. End Summary.

Geopolitical and Security Issues Largely Absent
--------------------------------------------- --

2. (C) Throughout the campaign period, candidates presented
national security largely in terms of economic and social
security. Matters of international security, defense and
regional stability generally received only broad formulaic
attention and generated little public debate. Political
analysts with whom we spoke lamented the low profile of these

3. (C) Director of the xxxxx told us that, with the European and
global security landscape in greater flux and uncertainty -
including due to Russia's reassertion of its political
ambitions and world view - attention of the candidates to
defense and security concepts is critical. Yet "no one," she
said, was talking about them, just at the moment when they
matter most.

4. (C) xxxxx and xxxxx, Director of the xxxxx, each pointed
out that Ukraine will not receive NATO or EU membership over
the next 5-7 years or longer. However, the course of
European security will be shaped during this period. Now is
the time for Ukrainians to care, they assert. According to
xxxxx (and backer
of President Yushchenko), the problem is simple voter apathy
toward anything other than the scandal-oriented political
commentary and debate that has marked post-Orange Revolution


5. (C) Viktor Yanukovych's campaign, like Party of Regions'
legislative agenda over the past few years, focused primarily
on domestic social welfare and economic/business issues. His
defense platform cited "defense reform", transition to a
professional force and abolition of compulsory service,
military right-sizing -- in line with Ukraine's "economic
potential" rather than resulting from review or analysis of
threats and opportunities -- and social benefits for military
academy graduates.

6. (C) Yanukovych pledges a non-aligned Ukraine -- a member
of neither NATO nor the CSTO -- within a multipolar "new
world order". In a private discussion with Ambassador Tefft,
Yanukovych held open the prospect of continued military
cooperation with NATO and spoke of cooperation with Ukraine's
military industrial sector. In another conversation with
Ambassador Tefft(ref A), Yanukovych spoke of resetting
relations with Russia but continuing to build ties with
Washington. Yanukovych has stated publicly (and privately to
us) that the future of the Black Sea Fleet would be decided
in a way that would satisfy both Ukrainian and Russian
interests, while protecting Ukrainian economic interests.
Yanukovych's advisors tell us he would be open to extending
the Black Sea Fleet's lease in Sevastopol if Russia offered
attractive terms, with substantially increased rent.


7. (SBU) Yuliya Tymoshenko's official campaign platform only
went so far as to promise to cancel conscription, moving to a
professional army based on contract "principles," and to

Kyiv 00000168 002 of 003

allocate "sufficient material, equipment, and finances" to
"strengthen (Ukraine's) combat power." Tymoshenko has
subsequently claimed that the Armed Forces receive adequate
funding. Her foreign policy views have focused on economic
policy, achieving European living standards with EU
membership to follow, with only a succinct note that there
will be "friendly relations" with Russia and the CIS, and any
collective security arrangements will be decided by

8. (SBU) In summing up her positions with the press on the
eve of elections January 14, Tymoshenko pledged that under
her leadership Ukraine would join the EU in five years, and
achieve an Association Agreement and Free Trade Agreement by
the end of 2010. She also said that the future of the Black
Sea Fleet "will be determined in strict accordance with the
Ukrainian Constitution." She took a position categorically
against recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as
independent nations. Outside the context of campaign
stumping, Tymoshenko has consistently emphasized the
importance of Ukraine's participation in the EU's defense
policy. With public support for NATO at only about 20
percent, Tymoshenko largely avoided mention of NATO in the

Serhiy Tihipko

9. (C) Serhiy Tihipko is the come-from-behind candidate who
moved into third place, garnering 13% of the vote on January
17. Meeting with the Ambassador on January 21 (ref A),
Tihipko said Ukrainian public opinion is not ready for NATO
membership. He advocated vigorous MoD engagement with NATO
and adoption of NATO standards, and said MoD should focus on
improving its capacity "to the maximum", but political
leaders should avoid talk of NATO membership.

10. (C) Tihipko said that as long as the current leaders rule
in Russia, NATO membership will be impossible for Ukraine.
The Kremlin would unleash a fifth column and destabilize the
country if membership were close. Tihipko's campaign rhetoric
has been clear that Ukraine "should give up (its) intentions
to become a NATO member" and "stop wasting (its) time trying
to secure NATO membership."

11. (C) Throughout his campaign, Tihipko voiced a pragmatic
approach to Urkainian foreign and security policy that
emphasized a constructive role for the country based on its
own national economic interests, and rejected existential
debates about political allegiance to Europe or Russia. He
used that perspective to advocate more clearly and frequently
his vision of an independent Ukraine acting rationally and
independently on the world stage than any other candidate,
save Yushchenko.

12. (SBU) Tihipko sees a clear role for Ukraine's
military-industrial complex in Ukraine's economic recovery
and in creating the strong military he believes is needed "to
protect the peace." Ukraine needs to win respect in its
foreign policy, including a "reboot" of relations with Russia
(to be achieved in particular through joint
military-industrial projects). Ukraine requires a new
military doctrine based on the "threats and realities of the
modern world," and a professional army effectively trained at
all levels with an effective reserve corps. Tihipko has
strongly criticized Ukrainian deployment to ISAF, saying that
Ukraine has "no use for this war." He has argued that "the
U.S. and its allies are defeated" in Afghanistan.

Lytvyn and Hrytsenko

13. (C) Some expected former Minister of Defense and head of
the Rada Defense Committee Anatoliy Hrytsenko, after a series
of campaign ads featuring himself in camouflage gear, to
continue with his normally pro-NATO, pro-Western rhetoric.
On the contrary, Hrytsenko's campaign was a low-profile
grass-roots effort that focused on the economic and political
issues more immediate to the electorate. Nevertheless,
Hrytsenko's campaign materials made it clear that he believed
Ukraine must be prepared to "go it alone" without NATO or the
EU in the near term. In his post-election meeting with the
Ambassador on January 22 (ref B), he predicted that
cooperation with NATO would continue, but Ukraine would not
be able to be a particularly effective partner.

14. (SBU) Speaker of the Rada Volodymyr Lytvyn early on took
the position that Ukraine should stop seeking NATO
membership, as the issue divides the nation. Furthermore, he
urged that the Russian Black Sea Fleet remain in Ukraine

Kyiv 00000168 003 of 003

after 2017 as a guarantor of Ukrainian security. Neither
candidate polled well with voters, however.

The Importance of Military Technical Cooperation
--------------------------------------------- ---

15. (C) Prominent Ukrainian xxxxxxxxxxxx
argues that while security issues did not play a role
in the election campaign, the candidates are keenly sensitive
to the condition of and fading economic potential of
Ukraine's aging military-industrial complex. In his view,
Ukraine's strategic orientation will be most greatly
influenced by offers of tangible cooperation in the aftermath
of the elections, regardless of the ultimate winner. Russia,
he said brings so much more to the table in terms of
long-term deals, purchases, sales, technology transfer,
compatibility and interoperability, and the ability to
revitalize Ukraine's military-industrial complex. Practical
ties are what will decide Ukraine's future allegiances. NATO
is a theoretical concept, and all politicians have come to
agree that Ukraine needs the capacity for independent


16. (C) Until the final days of the campaign, issues of
foreign and security policy were rarely raised by the press
or brought to the fore by the majority of the presidential
candidates. Nonetheless, the 2010 election is likely to mark
a shift in the country's longer-term strategic orientation
from the path laid out by Yushchenko in 2005. To the extent
that the candidates have commented on the strategic future
for Ukraine, the emphasis has been on achieving some sort of
balance that will be acceptable to Moscow.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Palestinian Ministry of Health: Developments In The Health Situation During The Israeli Aggression On The Cities & Governorates Of The Gaza Strip
For the second day in a row, the Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip continues by targeting overcrowded residential areas and neighborhoods, as the death toll rose to 13 citizens, including a 5-year-old girl and a 23-year-old woman... More>>

UN: Horn Of Africa Faces Most ‘Catastrophic’ Food Insecurity In Decades, Warns WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Tuesday that the Greater Horn of Africa is experiencing one of the worst famines of the last 70 years... More>>

FAO: Warns 90 Per Cent Of Earth’s Topsoil At Risk By 2050
A full 90 per cent of the Earth’s precious topsoil is likely to be at risk by 2050, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO...

Somalia: ‘We Cannot Wait For Famine To Be Declared; We Must Act Now’
Rising acute food insecurity in Somalia has caused more than 900,000 people to flee their homes in search of humanitarian assistance since January last year, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned... More>>

UN: American West Faces Water And Power Shortages Due To Climate Crisis
Two of the largest reservoirs in the United States are at dangerously low levels due to the climate crisis and overconsumption of water, which could affect water and electricity supply for millions in six western states and Mexico, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) warned on Tuesday... More>>

Singapore: UN Experts Call For Immediate Moratorium On Executions For Drug Offences

UN experts* today condemned the execution of Nazeri Bin Lajim, a 64-year-old Malay Singaporean national convicted of drug offenses and urged the Government of Singapore to halt plans to execute individuals on death row for drug related charges... More>>