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U.S. And Ukraine Strengthen Ties With New Security Agreement

The agreement promises enhanced U.S. support for Ukraine's militaryThe agreement promises enhanced U.S. support for Ukraine's military
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The agreement promises enhanced U.S. support for Ukraine's military
The agreement promises enhanced U.S. support for Ukraine's military
By Heather Maher
WASHINGTON -- Since Russia's war against Georgia this past August, the United States and Ukraine have been exploring ways to strengthen cooperation in an attempt to refute Moscow's claim to a sphere of influence along its borders.

On December 19, the two governments signed a new strategic partnership deal intended to show Moscow that Washington is committed to eventual NATO membership for Ukraine.

 

The agreement signed in Washington by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ogryzko is nonbinding, but it mentions broad areas of cooperation, including economic development and defense. It also contains promises to enhance the United States' training and equipping of Ukraine's military through NATO.

Deputy U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Merkel said the new agreement is meant to "break Moscow's narrative that it has laid out markers saying that the direction has to be reversed, the direction of U.S. involvement has to be blunted.”

 

The agreement also includes a statement by Ukraine welcoming the U.S. intention to open a new "diplomatic presence" on the Crimean peninsula, the Ukrainian region where Russia's Black Sea fleet is based.

 

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the United States is "considering opening an American presence post in the Crimean capital of Simferopol to expand...exchanges and promote mutual understanding between the United States and the Crimean region."

 

Most of the 2 million residents of Crimea are ethnic Russians. Although Russian officials have denied claims that Moscow is a threat to Ukraine's sovereignty, its move against Georgia in August has elevated fears of a separatist movement on the peninsula.

 

Russia's lease on its Soviet-era naval base in Sevastopol runs out in 2017, and Ukraine says it will not be extended.


Backing Kyiv

 

The new U.S.-Ukrainian agreement is a sign that the United States is trying to shore up Ukraine's position in the standoff.

Olexander Sushko, of Kyiv's Center for Peace, Conversion, and Foreign Policy, said the document was necessary because Ukraine is years away from becoming a member of NATO. Because the United States has lobbied so hard, without success, for Ukraine to be given a Membership Action Plan (MAP), Sushko said a new strategic partnership was the next best thing it could offer.


"This document has more of symbolic weight than any serious security guarantees, Sushko said. “The signing of the document is a reaction of two countries, Ukraine and the U.S., to a certain slow-down in the process of Ukraine's NATO integration, in the sense that in the next several years Ukraine will not become NATO member. Because of this it was necessary to demonstrate a reaction on a bilateral level, to signal that the two sides have a serious bilateral interest in each other."

 

For all its promises, though, the new U.S. document cannot replace the collective security guarantees that NATO offers, Sushko warns.


"It is not a substitute for a collective security treaty. For example, the U.S. has a bilateral security treaty with South Korea. It is very different in nature. It is a treaty which carries serious security commitments,” he said. “Ukraine cannot hope for the same type of 'special' relations which formed between the U.S. and South Korea as a result of the circumstances in 1940-1950s, after the war, when this treaty came to life.... We are talking about a different level of commitment and a different level of political will to protect Ukraine, using U.S. political or military might."

 

President George W. Bush leaves office on January 20, and State Department officials were not clear whether a decision would be made about the Crimean post before he leaves, or if it would fall to his successor, President-elect Barack Obama.

 

RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service contributed to this report

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Richard Mimna from: www.herbalindex.com
December 20, 2008 21:39
At the rate that Putin is destroying Russia there will soon be little threat (if any). It seems that every time Putin rattles his sabre he manages to scare more money away from Russia. Maybe Russians should get their cue from Greece.

by: David Hernandez from: Salamanca, Spain
December 24, 2008 19:15
Richard, I share your view that Putin is doing far more harm than good to Russia in the long run. However, no one who has any interest in the well-being of the Ukrainian people can either dismiss the Russian threat so lightly or seriously conceive Ukraine can live on without reaching a modus vivendi with Russia.

by: ukraines here
December 24, 2008 20:15
Long live Ukraine

by: Richard Mimna from: www.herbalindex.com
December 25, 2008 13:46
David, I hope that the peoples of Ukraine and Russia can find a way to live together. It is the current Russian government that may need to be replaced. Putin runs Russia like an old mafia boss.

by: Anton from: Auckland
January 02, 2009 00:02
Well, two weeks passed and we already have first fruits of this agreement - Ukraine sits without gas supplies, prices jumped 150% and US for some reason is not in a hurry to settle the Ukrainian bills, while this is where the real threat to Ukrainian sovereignty is, its full dependence on Russian energy at discount prices! Russia does not need to threaten to Ukraine militarily at all, it is enough to start trading with it at market prices, and Ukraine is finished... 70% of industry is in Russian-populated areas, gas cut-off would stop the plants and foundries there, leaving millions of people unemployed - and so much about so-called &quot;ukraine project&quot;!<br /><br />Economically Ukraine was an integrated part of USSR, so its highly skilled population of the Eastern part was operating a metal-producing end of the mining and mineral processing industry of Russia proper, it simply can not exist by itself and be self-contained as it has no resources. There is no malicious intentions here, just economic reality, which the peasants from Western Ukraine, who currently rule the country, do not want to understand.

by: Richard Mimna from: www.herbalindex.com
January 02, 2009 08:54
The Ukraine has enough gas reserves to wait out the fall of Putins current mood. By the time the reserves run low, the people of Ukraine will have contracted stable &quot;outside&quot; sources; or worked out a viable deal with Russia.

by: Anton from: Auckland
January 02, 2009 11:59
It is not like that, Richard. First of all, there is no &quot;outside&quot; sources in this world, and the reserves would only last 2-3 months. Secondly, Ukraine has no LNG terminals. Thirdly, LNG is more expensive than what Russia wants to get, and Ukraine has no money. <br /><br />It all is a sign of some game inside the Ukrainian government. The leading politicians of Ukraine may be interested to partition the country, as this promises them the popular support of the Western part of it, so Timoshenko seems to be cooperating with Moscow, the same time trying to defame the current president. They both have no popularity in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, so they fight for the Western Ukraine, keeping in mind that the gas cut off would hit first of all the areas with Russian population, as they are the major users. In their situation territorial integrity is not a main goal at all, as with present composition of lands the country is unmanageable. Besides, even the Western Ukraine alone would still control the pipelines to Europe, or at least they hope for it.<br /><br />Russia's goal is to persuade Europe to support Nord Stream and South Stream projects - and for this Russia may try to freeze EU with Ukrainian hands or at least prove to EU that Ukraine can not safely handle the gas transport. Russia's position is strengthened with that recent Azerbaijan presidential showdown, as well as with Russian troops at Georgian borders - this together makes alternative NABUCCO pipeline unrealistic and insecure (no one would invest in it, too high risk).<br /><br />If Ukraine is partitioned, both parts would be liberated from each other, and get the chance for development, as they are too different to be together in one state - because of this difference Ukraine can not acquire a proper government...

by: Richard Mimna from: www.herbalindex.com
January 03, 2009 23:42
Thanks Anton, you explained that extremely well. I read every word carefully and can honestly say that it rang true to the last syllable. I actually learned something from you.

by: Ukie from: New Jersey
April 06, 2009 17:13
Well.It is so funny how you people can sit at home and talk about some topics that you have no clue about...Let me tell you something.You are saying that Ukraine this Ukraine that.In Soviet Union time USSR sucked all natural resourses out of all countries that were under their rule and used them all but never touched their own.So basically ,a lot of countries including Ukraine left with empty reserve of natural resources and Russia has plenty...Now they want us to pay top dollar.I don't think so....As far as Russia and Ukraine should find some way of understanding and friendship,it would never happen...Russia done nothing good for Ukraine and many other former USSR countries to like her for...How many people died because of Russia and how many will.

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