6. Factors Influencing Ukraine's Ratification
Popadiuk, Roman, McNair Papers
Over the course of 1992 and 1993 a number of circumstances had changed, leading Ukraine to realize the importance of START ratification. In September 1992 Prime Minister Vitold Fokin resigned under pressure from democratic forces who believed he was not reforming the economy. In June 1993 the Donbass coal miner strike emphasized the political unhappiness that was marking the heavily Russified regions that had hoped for a better economic future in an independent Ukraine. In September of that year, then Prime Minister Kuchma had resigned, underscoring the ineffectiveness of the Ukrainian leadership and in particular emphasizing the lack of any coherent economic program. Economically and politically Ukraine was teetering. Russian nationalist Zhirinovsky's unexpected strong showing in the December 1993 Russian parliamentary elections drove home for Kiev the importance of finding a counter to possible Russian nationalism by cooperating with the United States. Growing unease about Crimea, where pro-Russian activism appeared to be increasing, also drove home for Ukraine the importance of a better relationship with the West. On a practical level, Ukraine had come to realize both the growing environmental threat if unserviced missiles began to leak as well as the political and economic costs of holding onto the missiles.
But there were a number of positive aspects that helped the Rada act. There was the trilateral agreement with Russia on the sharing of proceeds from the highly enriched uranium that was to be removed from the Ukrainian warheads. The congressional move in the summer of 1993 to provide $300 million in assistance to Ukraine, the United States statement of support of Ukraine's territorial integrity in the face of the July 1993 Russian parliament's claim to Sevastopol, the stated new policy of the administration toward Ukraine and agreement on security assurances, ",ill played a role.
Even before the November ratification, the Rada had signalled its more constructive approach. On October 19, the Rada approved the military doctrine, one year after it first took it up. The doctrine stated Ukraine's goal of becoming a non-nuclear state, but linked this to security assurances and compensation, something the November ratification also did. By this time Ukraine had finally resolved the issue of defining an enemy. The noted doctrine stated Ukraine would view any state as an enemy if its policy was a military threat to Ukraine. The failed doctrine of the previous year had stated that Ukraine did not view any state as an enemy.
THE ROLE OF U.S. PRESSURE
U.S. pressure, however, continued throughout this process. Despite having laid down the verbal foundation of a new policy and pursuing the process of de facto implementation of START, the Clinton administration continued to maintain diplomatic and economic pressure on Kiev. In an effort to stymie the belief that some European states favored Ukraine retaining its nuclear weapons, the United States urged various European capitals to discuss the issue with Kiev and to tell Kiev it could not expect to receive economic assistance until it moved on START and NPT.
On July 3, 1993, Kravchuk, apparently eager to test the pledge of a new relationship by the Clinton administration forwarded a letter--in which he made the transparent connection between START and financial assistance--to the President regarding the upcoming G-7 meeting in Tokyo. No doubt his effort may have been spurred by his June 12 phone conversation with the President in which the President emphasized the importance of Ukraine and expressed his willingness to extend food credits and grants. Of the G-7, Kravchuk requested a $I00 million fund for small business development, a $1 to 1.5 billion stabilization fund, an international disarmament fund, $300 million for a privatization fund and assistance to deal with the problems associated with Chernobyl. But the administration was not eager to assist the Ukrainian request.
Later that month Ukrainian officials were told that Ukraine's nuclear policy had affected the deliberations at Tokyo and that until Ukraine fulfilled its obligations it could not expect to gain full international status. They were also informed of U.S. dissatisfaction that Ukraine, unlike Russia, was not taking any steps toward economic reform and that many of the participants had been upset with Kiev's opposition to the U.S. bombing of Baghdad that month. Undaunted, the Ukrainians asked for a Kravchuk visit prior to the then scheduled Ukrainian September 26 referendum. (This was eventually changed to pre-term Presidential and Parliamentary elections for 1994). They were pointedly told, however, that for a visit to be approved, Ukraine would have to make progress on START and the NPT.
In July, the administration voiced its opposition to the McConnell aid action. Senator Mitch McConnell had become convinced that in order to underscore U.S. interest in Ukraine, it was important for the United States to provide some form of financial assistance. Moreover, sensitive to Ukraine's complaint that it had always been lumped with Russia, McConnell realized the importance of sponsoring aid that was specifically geared toward Ukraine--an issue that some U.S. officials had long been urging on two administrations, and which was a subject of discussions during the Senator's July visit. In November, 1992, Kravchuk made this desire clear when he told an interviewer that Ukraine wanted aid channeled to it directly, without being tied to the former Soviet Union or Russia. In the summer of 1993, Senator McConnell prevailed in allocating to Ukraine not less than $300 million, thus keeping the door open to further assistance.
The administration, however, opposed the congressional move, and the State Department wrote the Hill stating the administration's objections. Ostensibly, the issue revolved around the administration's opposition to Congressional earmarks. But it soon became clear that a more generic opposition to Ukraine assistance existed. An NSC official reportedly claimed that Ukraine would not get any money and, furthermore, that Ukraine did not deserve any assistance, since Kiev had not undertaken any economic reforms as Russia had. When the Congressional action passed, the administration claimed it was not binding. When A.I.D. started to act upon the congressional move, it was told by the NSC to ignore it. These actions did not go unnoticed by Ukraine. In September Ambassador Bilorus privately stated that Kiev had noticed a more positive stance by the congress, but that the administration was still not supportive of Ukraine. Despite Talbott's May visit to Kiev, it appears that it was the congressional action that brought the change in US-Ukraine relations. The Congress had removed the economic weapon that the administration had been using against Ukraine and which had not been very effective.
In October 1993, in an apparent effort to capitalize on the congressional action, a U.S. economic delegation visited Ukraine, seeking to pledge U.S. assistance with economic reforms separate of the nuclear issue. The administration was now willing to de-link economic aid and the nuclear weapons question, a message that was reinforced by Secretary Christopher's visit to Kiev later in the month.
Indeed, the promised congressional aid became a carrot for further moving Ukraine on the desired nuclear track. Despite the Rada's failure on NPT, Ukraine had started on the road to disarmament and its bilateral relationship with the United States was improving. During President Kravchuk's March, 1994, visit to the White House, it was announced that the first shipment of warheads was enroute to Russia for dismantlement. To cement the growing relationship, President Clinton announced a $700 million aid package, divided evenly between Nunn-Lugar funds for de-nuclearization and economic assistance. The latter funds, reflecting the earlier congressional action, were contingent on Ukraine undertaking serious economic reform. The administration soon started to note that Ukraine was one of the largest recipients of United States assistance.
THE ISSUE OF SECURITY ASSURANCES
From the outset of the bilateral relationship, Kiev had been seeking security assurances from the United States. While Kiev never considered it could be a member of NATO, officials did hint at various times Ukraine's desire to have a NATO-like umbrella, whereby it would fall under U.S. protection in the event of an attack. On January 20, 1993, Dmytro Pavlychko, Chairman of the
Rada Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rada Deputy Larisa Shoryk, visited me in my office prior to the Embassy's Inaugural celebration for President Clinton. Pavlychko handed me a draft treaty proposal obligating the United States to come to Ukraine's military defense in the event of an attack on Ukraine. He stated that a legally binding treaty giving Ukraine security assurances would also be sought of Russia. While the Pavlychko draft was a non-starter, the incident did serve to magnify the central role of security in the whole nuclear weapons issue.
In March 1992, then Environmental Minister Scherbak made an impassioned plea for security assurances, during his visit to the White House. During President Kravchuk's May 1992 visit to the White House, the Ukrainians, spearheaded by Foreign Minister Zlenko, sought to capitalize on President Bush's positive words oil Ukraine by hammering Secretary Baker on the issue of security assurances. Prior to the luncheon in the Old Family Dining Room on the State Floor, while the President and Kravchuk lagged behind, the two delegations gathered in the Red Room to pursue the discussion. Baker, with his voice rising, and his hand chopping the air was emphatic that the United States could not give security assurances. If Ukraine were to receive them, then other countries, such as Poland and Hungary, which already expressed interests in this direction would demand similar assurances. Where would the process end Baker demanded rhetorically? The Ukrainians were unmoved and, as if not hearing Baker's discourse, kept coming back to their demand. They wanted not only a guarantee against aggression but against the threat of aggression as well, to which Baker retorted, without getting a response, of who would define all this.
When President Bush and Kravchuk entered the room they joined in the discussion. Kravchuk pointed out that the United States has NATO for security. The President countered that is what the role of the Helsinki process and the CSCE is all about. With the issue unresolved, the entourage moved to the dining room, but as the weeks passed the issue kept becoming increasingly important.
In late June 1992, the United States, while not explicitly offering security assurances, made a number of commitments that were aimed at easing Kiev's concerns. The United States pledged to seek immediate action at the UN Security Council to give assistance to a non-nuclear Ukraine if it were attacked or threatened by nuclear weapons. Furthermore, the United States stated the importance of Ukraine's armed forces for providing security and file United States' readiness to help develop a Ukrainian armed force whose size and equipment would put it in a position to defend Ukraine. The United States also noted the importance of Ukraine's undertaking political and economic reforms as a means for maintaining security and pointed to the need for Ukraine to become fully integrated into the international community, particularly by participation in such bodies as the United Nations, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and the North Atlantic Coordinating Council.
The U.S. view began to shift by autumn 1992 to the point where the idea of security assurances for Ukraine became a viable option. Scowcroft had always believed that assurances would help encourage Kiev to move forward on START ratification but that there was no way that the United States would be able to give Ukraine a security guarantee, that is, a legally binding agreement committing the United States to the defense of Ukraine. The issue, as Scowcroft viewed it, was the compromise agreement that both the United States and Ukraine would settle for. Thus, in the Autumn of 1992 commenced an intricate pattern of negotiations aimed at satisfying both sides' needs. The talks also involved the Russians and the British.
UKRAINE'S SECURITY CONCERNS
A country devoid of natural borders, with a rich agricultural soil, and a crossroads between Europe and Asia, Ukraine has historically been a target of aggression or the site of empires fighting out their colonial drives. And none of the historical occupations have been conducive to Ukraine's development. Indeed, they have aimed at destroying the Ukrainian identity, focusing on barring the use of the Ukrainian language as the Czars did in the 19th century, as well as in physically attempting to crush the national spirit as witnessed by the forced migrations to Siberia and the Soviet induced famine of the 1930s. Given this historical background, one can understand Ukraine's concerns regarding possible Russian intentions.
But there is another dimension. Historically, pressed from various sides, Ukraine has sought to gain its security by appealing to or allying itself with outside forces. Ukraine has never had the internal experience or resources to maintain its security in the face of the constant pressures it has faced. Ukraine's inordinate emphasis on the nuclear weapons, therefore, should have come as no surprise. The weapons were a vehicle for leveraging security assurances and for making sure they fit Ukraine's needs as it sees them.
Complicating this security dilemma is the fact that Ukraine's contemporary borders were artificially produced. While encompassing much of the ethnic and historical territory conceived of as Ukraine, the borders were created by the Soviet regime through a combination of readjusting the borders with Ukraine's neighbors and, in a most glaring example, by bequeathing Crimea to Ukraine in 1954. In these circumstances Ukraine sees its security potentially threatened on many fronts.
What the West initially failed to grasp was the powerful historical basis of Ukraine's approach. And while the West eventually came to appreciate Ukraine's concerns, Kiev did not see the West as willing to defend Ukraine. Ukraine needs to be visibly assured of its security. It needs this crutch as an interim approach while it learns to build its own security from internal sources, including the structuring of conventional forces as well as economic and political reform.
The concerns over Russia were evident both by how events were unfolding in Russia and Moscow's attempts to undermine Ukraine's image. On November 22, Nunn and Lugar came to Kiev concerned by reports in Western media and in other CIS states regarding Ukrainian intentions on START ratification. That Sunday evening, they met with Kravchuk, who made an exception to his rule of not holding Sunday meetings. Kravchuk reaffirmed his commitment to go non-nuclear, but emphasized the importance of obtaining security assurances. He expressed particular concern that the conservative forces in Russia may present Yeltsin with political problems that can impact on Ukraine.
That much of the hysteria regarding Ukraine's nuclear intentions was fueled by Russia was a perspective that the Senators carried in the back of their minds. At various times Russia had claimed to U.S. officials that Ukraine was developing launch codes, that Ukraine would be able to fire missiles in 12-18 months, that Ukraine cannot properly maintain the missiles, that nuclear accidents were a possibility and that Moscow believed that Kiev wanted to go nuclear.
NEGOTIATIONS OVER SECURITY ASSURANCES
On October 2, 1992, a delegation headed by Undersecretary Wisner arrived in Kiev to discuss nuclear issues. In the ensuing discussions, Ukraine proposed a United Nations resolution sponsored by the "Penn Five" regarding security assurances that would help ease START ratification.
By mid-November, 1992, discussions with Ukraine were proceeding along the line of the possibility of a joint US-Russian security assurance and the possible language that any prospective statement would involve. Kiev agreed with the U.S.-proposed basic principles--the main feature being the pledge contained in the June commitment about going to the United Nations in the event of a nuclear attack or nuclear threat against Ukraine. Discussion also centered on the type of statement it should be, and settled on the goal of a joint US-Russian statement and the prospect of it being issued at a Presidential level.
Ukraine was willing to accept the proposed U.S. security assurances but with a number of changes. Kiev wanted Ukraine specifically named throughout the agreement. Kiev was concerned that the language Washington was prepared to offer was standard language drawn from existing international agreements and treaties. Kiev wanted original language geared toward recognizing Ukraine's unique position as a country willing to give up its nuclear arsenal. Ukraine also wanted a specific guarantee against economic coercion as well as a guarantee against conventional attack. This latter point was somewhat moot, since the proposed assurances spoke of respect for the independence of the CSCE member states (which included Ukraine), respect for each CSCE country's existing borders and of refraining from the threat or use of force against the "territorial integrity" of the newly independent states of Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.
By early January 1993, however, the negotiations met a bump. Pavlychko stated that Parliament had upped the ante: he claimed that a statement of assurances was insufficient and that a security treaty with a juridical basis was necessary. The British were also told by the Ukrainians that Kiev would want a public statement on assurances prior to the Rada's debate since this would allegedly assist in START passage.
In his early January 1993 visit to Washington, Tarasiuk raised the issue of assurances but made no mention of the Pavlychko gambit. He gave the standard commitment that START would get priority treatment once the Rada reconvened in January. U.S. officials complained that while the United States had been forthcoming on assurances, Nunn-Lugar funding and the need for Ukrainian-Russian profit sharing on HEU, this had only led to increased demands by the Rada. Nonetheless, Tarasiuk was given a copy of the proposed United States assurances after his 10-minute Oval Office meeting with President Bush on January 8.
The assurances provided to Tarasiuk included commitments on the part of the United States that would also be expected to be provided by Russia to Ukraine. The U.S. commitments were drawn from previous public commitments. The United States pledged as it did in 1968 to non-nuclear NPT members, to assist Ukraine, as a member of the NPT, by seeking immediate action by the UN Security Council if Ukraine were attacked or threatened by nuclear weapons. Next, the United States pledged not to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear weapons state that was part of the NPT unless the United States was attacked by a nuclear state with which the non-nuclear state was allied. This was a pledge that the United States had also made to non-nuclear NPT members in 1978. The United States also pledged to respect the independence of Ukraine, Ukraine's existing borders and noted that border changes could only be made by peaceful means; all these were in keeping with the CSCE charter that the United States signed in 1975. And, finally, the United States committed itself not to use the threat or use of force against any state (Ukraine), only in self defense and in accordance with the charter of the United Nations.
Kravchuk, however, believed that the assurances were not specific enough and wanted to re-open the dialogue. The Foreign Ministry claimed that the U.S. proposal did not meet Ukraine's security concerns. The assurances did not contain the economic or conventional guarantees that Ukraine had been seeking. In fact, Kiev had already received the Russian text, which it also found unacceptable since it would recognize Ukraine's borders in the context of the CIS. Because Ukraine was not willing to join a political union it, therefore, viewed Russia's proposal as a threat against its security rather than as an assurance. The Russian text closely paralleled the U.S. draft, except for substituting CIS provisions in place of the CSCE. However, the Russians did pledge that disputes between CIS states would be resolved through peaceful means and that this applied to Ukraine.
At their January 15 meeting in Moscow, Yeltsin stated to Kravchuk Russia's willingness to supply security assurances against both nuclear and conventional attack, to Ukraine. Yeltsin had personally directed Kozyrev to come up with language that would please Ukraine and that Russia would be willing to provide the assurances prior to ratification but that they would take affect only alter ratification took place. This language was a source of dispute between the United States and Ukraine. Washington believed that it was not wise to make the assurances public in advance of ratification, since it would open the possibility that Parliament could use this to its advantage to pressure the United States into more concessions.
In February, the United States approached Moscow to provide Ukraine assurances in the framework of the CSCE rather than the CIS. While Russia accepted the proposal, it still insisted on retaining the CIS language. Moscow's rationale was that the CSCE, signed in 1975, did not cover the Ukrainian-Russian border since this was not an international border in 1975 and thus the CIS language was better protection for Ukraine. But this kind of thinking could only raise concerns about Russia's intentions toward the republics and its eventual role in the region of the former Soviet Union. The State Department expressed its concerns to the Russian government.
On February 26 Ukraine got a new draft text from Russia still containing the CIS language that continued to perturb Kiev. Tarasiuk spoke with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Berdennikov about it, but the latter adamantly claimed that there could be no more changes.
Kiev was doubly unnerved when Yeltsin called for Russian peacekeeping in the CIS and Kozyrev made mention of Ukraine as being a mythical slate. These actions--plus Kozyrev's "joke" in December, 1992, at the Stockholm CSCE meeting when he publicly raised the specter of an obstructionist Russian foreign policy if the conservative nationalist forces took control of Moscow--Tarasiuk claimed were signs of Moscow's true intentions. Zlenko called Kozyrev's Stockholm remarks an echo of old imperial thinking. And on March 5 Kravchuk complained that Yeltsin's comment regarding Moscow's desire to guarantee peace in the former soviet space went beyond acceptable bounds.
By mid-March, 1993, however, Washington had reconsidered its position on some of the Ukrainian concerns and had drawn up economic assurances derived from the CSCE language. However, the United States was still unwilling to approach Kiev with this change until Russia was willing to do likewise.
Ukraine continued to push for legally binding assurances. On June 28, 1993, Tarasiuk outlined that Kiev was working a "legally binding" multiple security assurances document to be presented to the United Nations Security Council Perm Five. This brought the whole process back to the October 1992 starting point. Tarasiuk presented this document to Talbott at their July 22 meeting in Washington but was told that the United States could not support a legally binding instrument. During Talbott's May 1993 visit to Kiev to lay the beginning of a new relationship, the Ukrainians had broached the idea of a legally binding treaty akin to the Austria State Treaty as a means to guarantee Ukraine's security. Talbott's delegation brushed the suggestion aside, noting it took ten years to negotiate such a treaty and that such a route would create more problems than it would solve, including delaying the implementation of Ukraine's nuclear commitments. And so the process continued until the January 14 Trilateral Statement outlined the fully acceptable security assurances Ukraine would receive after START ratification and accession to the NPT.
Kiev received most of what it had sought: a high level and public endorsement of the assurances by Presidents Clinton, Kravchuk, and Yeltsin; assurances from Russia; assurances against economic coercion; and no language on the CIS. For all practical purposes, the assurances can be viewed as having been granted before ratification, since the final ratification that removed the November 1993 conditions did not take place until February 1994. At the December 5, 1994, CSCE meeting in Budapest, the assurances came into formal play when Ukraine presented its accession to the NPT, which had been acted on by its parliament the preceding month. In addition, Britain, France and China have provided the same assurances thus fulfilling Ukraine's desire that the UN Perm five grant assurances even though this is outside the parameters of a formal UN pledge.
Ukraine, however, will always judge its security by the actions of Moscow rather than by any pledges it may receive. And the rumors of Russian machinations are numerous. According to the Foreign Ministry Russian Ambassadors in Eastern Europe were warning those governments not to deal with Ukraine, since Ukraine was in Russia's sphere of influence. The fear of future action, either through the withholding of energy supplies by Moscow or by its exploitation of the Black Sea Fleet issue or the Russian minority will always be in the back of Kiev's mind.
Ambassador Roman Popadiuk, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service since 1981, served as Ambassador to Ukraine from 1992-1993. From 1993 to 1995 he was on the faculty of the School of Area Studies at the State Department's Foreign Service Institute. In August 1995, Ambassador Popadiuk assumed duties as International Affairs Advisor and senior civilian on the staff of the Commandant of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, National Defense University.
In January 1989, President Bush appointed Ambassador Popadiuk to be Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Press Secretary for Foreign Affairs, a position he held until 1992. In President Reagan's administration, he served as an Assistant Press Secretary from July 1986 until March 1988, when he became Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Press Secretary for Foreign Affairs. In October of that year, the President appointed him a Deputy Assistant.
Ambassador Popadiuk graduated from Hunter College and received his Ph.D. from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.…
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Publication information: Article title: 6. Factors Influencing Ukraine's Ratification. Contributors: Popadiuk, Roman - Author. Journal title: McNair Papers. Issue: 52-55 Publication date: October 1996. Page number: SSS45. © Not available. COPYRIGHT 1996 Gale Group.
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