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This UABA Blog page provides information and commentary on issues that are relevant to the organization and its members. Although the blogs are public, comments can only be made by members. If yoiu wish to join the discussion, you are welcome to become a member.

The comments expressed on these blogs represent the opinions of the authors and not that of the UABA.

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  • 04 Dec 2017 7:53 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    THE GHOST OF MEMORANDUM PAST

    December 5, 2017

    As the 2017 Christmas holidays approach, the recently escalating bellicose behavior and rhetoric between North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and the President of the United States has put the entire world on a dangerous precipice of a nuclear Armageddon. It is beyond any reasonable doubt that there are no good military options – every conceivable variation of the use of force to compel the de-nuclearization of North Korea will result in massive civilian casualties, especially in the South Korean capital of Seoul which has over 10 million inhabitants. Many believe that the United States is bombastically and blindly walking into a “schoolyard” fight that will produce no winners - all will be “Great” losers.  How did the United States tie itself into this Gordian knot? To find some answers, it would be historically prudent to visit the “Ghost of Memorandum Past”! 

    On December 5, 1994, Ukraine agreed to remove and to have destroyed all nuclear weapons on its territory.  All that Ukraine asked in return was to be given security assurances by the United States, Russia and the United Kingdom upon its accession to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapon state.  These security assurances were given and are commonly known as the Budapest Memorandum.  In reliance on these assurances, Ukraine surrendered approximately 1900 nuclear warheads, the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world.   The Budapest Memorandum was a significant and dramatic step in furtherance of the United States' long term strategic goal to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons to other countries and to reduce the existing nuclear arsenals around the world.

    In 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine on its eastern border and audaciously annexed Crimea, all in direct and brazen violation - not only of the Budapest Memorandum - but also in breach of long established norms of international rule of law. This war continues to this day.  One would have expected the United States, as party to the Budapest Memorandum, to vociferously react to Russia's breach of the security assurances it gave to Ukraine. After all, this was the quid pro quo for Ukraine surrendering its nuclear weapons of mass destruction - defensive as well as offensive.  Regrettably, the US response was, at first deafening silence, followed by anemic economic sanctions imposed on Russia at glacial speed. 

    During his election campaign and in the first year of his presidency, President Trump has embraced a muddled foreign policy grounded on pseudo-nationalism and geopolitical isolationism.  He has approached international treaties and covenants with an iconoclastic fervor refashioning the slow walking of America’s obligations under international agreements to a virtual stop - including nuclear nonproliferation accords - even suggesting that America’s allies should independently develop nuclear capability to defend themselves.  Although the US Congress has mandated sanctions against Russia, President Trump openly displays his disdain for Congress’s directives and is unabashedly declining to implement any uptick in sanctions against Russia.  If this behavior continues, the “ghost” of America’s international leadership in the future is extremely bleak.

    All of this is centerstage before the entire world – including North Korea.  Observing such disregard for and even disengagement from its international commitments, why should any country, including America’s allies, give any credence to any commitment that is made by the US?  Why should North Korea accept a diplomatic nuclear non-proliferation accord to defuse the present crisis considering America’s tepid response to Russia?

    Historically, the United States has always prided itself on its veracity and credibility proclaiming that Americans always "stand by their word".  Will the President of the United States have an “Ebenezer Scrooge Moment” and pivot American foreign policy back to its historical roots?  But alas, we do not live in Charles Dickens’s fable “A Christmas Carol”.  The reality that we live in suggests that such a pivot, unfortunately, is highly unlikely.  Rather, the world will unwittingly drift back into the schizophrenic twilight zone of MADMutual Assured Destruction –where many nations will come to believe that nuclear nonproliferation agreements are not worth the paper they are written on and will acquire, and stockpile nuclear warheads aimed at their real or imagined enemies.  Such a state of world affairs will exponentially increase the likelihood of human error and MAD may come to fruition.

    Myroslaw Smorodsky, Esq.
    Attorney
    Former Public Member of the United States Delegation to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) Madrid, 1980
    Past President and Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Ukrainian American Bar Association 


  • 27 Sep 2017 2:38 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    PERSONAL REFLECTIONS IN MEMORY OF DANYLO M. KURDELCHUK

    One year ago, Danylo M. Kurdelchuk departed into eternity at the age of 72 after a long battle with cancer. At the time of his passing, I had known Danylo for a quarter of a century - our friendship began shortly after Ukraine declared its sovereignty.

    I was first introduced to Danylo in October of 1991, when Ukrainian lawyers from around the world met in Kyiv at the First International Conference of Ukrainian Attorneys and Jurists.  A few months later, Danylo made his first trip outside the boundaries of the former Soviet Union and came to the United States where he was introduced to the Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA).  From that time forward, he became a steadfast supporter of the UABA. Over the years, he, together with members of Ukriniurkoleguia, attended and actively participated in many UABA conventions and in various lawyer organizations such as the World Congress of Ukrainian Jurists. 

    We also developed a business relationship.  We participated as co-counsel in numerous matters; from cases of minor significance to massive class actions of international impact - litigations against German and Austrian industry to obtain compensation for Ukrainian forced and slave laborers in WWII (Ost-arbiters).  Danylo’s professional qualifications as a great lawyer and legal scholar are internationally well known and acknowledged. Danylo represented embassies of EU countries and was the Honorary Consul of Panama for many years; and he received numerous accolades internationally and from the Ukrainian legal community.

    On many of my trips to Ukraine, I would stay at Danylo’s home rather than in a hotel. These interactions with Danylo gave me the opportunity to acquire a personal bond and insight into the essence of Danylo’s character.  Not only was he a great lawyer, but also a Ukrainian patriot.  He was the guiding force behind the Volyn Brotherhood and instrumental in fostering many projects to advance Ukraine’s independence - politically, culturally, and spiritually.  But most importantly, Danylo was trustworthy and loyal to his friends and co-workers.  And yes, he was stubborn – and it was that stubbornness that helped him fight his cancer for so many years.  Vichnaya Pam'yat!

    Myroslaw Smorodsky 


  • 27 Sep 2017 2:34 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    The Senior Judges in the US Court of Federal Claims

    For more than 160 y ears, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, along with its predecessor, the U.S. Court of Claims, has acted as "The People's Court," 1 sometimes even referred to as the "keeper of the nation's conscience. "2 As Abraham Lincoln stated in his Annual Message to Congress in 1861, "it is as much the duty of government to render prompt justice against itself in favor of citizens, as it is to administer the same between private individuals." While some may conflate the Court of Federal Claims with small claims courts across the country, there is nothing small about the Court of Federal Claims.

    ....................

    Senior Judge Bohdan A. Futey

    Judge Bohdan A. Futey was nominated to the Court of Federal Claims on Jan. 30, 1987, and entered on duty May 8, 1987. He graduated from Western Reserve University, receiving a B.A. in 1962 and an M.A. in 1964, and he received a Doctor of Law from Cleveland Mm·shall Law School in 1968.

    Read More

  • 02 Aug 2017 1:07 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Mikheil Saakashvili And The Problem Of Dual Citizenship 

    Andy J. Semotiuk , FORBES CONTRIBUTOR

    Recently, the former Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship by Ukraine's President, Petro Poroshenko. Saakashvili had previously abandoned his Georgian citizenship so he could take up a major anti-corruption assignment in Ukraine. When his Ukrainian citizenship was cancelled, he pledged to return to Ukraine to mobilize his supporters there, to defy Poroshenko's decision. It is difficult to see how Saakashvili can return to Ukraine, however, since there is no way he can travel anywhere as a stateless human being. He may have to claim asylum in the United States first. This series of events leads into a very interesting ethical question, namely, whether holding dual citizenship could result in a conflict of interests in high office and whether persons holding high office should abandon their second citizenships.

    A good starting place for such a discussion is to recall our own Presidential election and the status of one of President Trump's fiercest opponents, Senator Ted Cruz.

    Read More

  • 28 Feb 2017 9:27 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Dear Mr. Ambassador,   

    I typically enjoy reading your work, but here, with all due respect, you've missed the boat on this one.  You propose the continuation of an approach that has gotten us to the sorry state of affairs that we're now in.

    The invasion and occupation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine is the most consequential upset of the international order. Western reaction thus far is nowhere commensurate with the breach, and tyrants worldwide are taking a lesson. Acquiescing in the annexation of Crimea will clinch Russia's certainty that it can continue its marauding. This, in the face of stripping Ukraine of its nuclear arsenal, and then of its conventional weaponry on the pretext of ensuring peace.  The Budapest Memorandum was flushed down the toilet.  Who will ever again even entertain the thought of surrendering, or not acquiring, nuclear capability? Our pusillanimity has been the ultimate provocation.

    In the long arc of US/Soviet/Russian relations, the macro consequences are clear.  Western capital, technology and know-how established the economic base of the Soviet Union, nevermind that they screwed it up rather well. Simultaneously, under the Treaty of Rapallo, Moscow was helping rebuild Germany's armaments industry in violation of the Versailles Treaty, with German officers training the Red Army., and Stalin giving Berlin an object lesson on organizing the GULAG. US diplomatic recognition coincided with Stalin's starvation of Ukraine, breaking its resistance and ensuring the viability of the USSR for decades until Ukraine declared independence.  Reward for a job well done, with the Western press spiking the genocide story with especial vigor.

    The Molotov/Ribbentrop Pact then plunged Europe into WWII.  How in the world did US recognition help us "deal" with the USSR??  Except if you mean that, after WWII, the Soviet Union succeeded to more nations, territory and countries than Hitler controlled, all without firing a shot, and with the assistance of massive US aid that exceeded, exponentially, what was necessary for the war effort. Harry Hopkins, Stalin's man in the White House, and head of the Lend/Lease program, ensured that documents re: "heavy water," "fission", and "uranium" were included in the shipments. The forced repatriation by the US ("Operation Keelhaul") of hundreds of thousands of Soviet refugees, the truth tellers, back to Stalin was heinous.

    Post war, the policy of containment did not contain. The results were disastrous, with Soviet expansion being rampant. At the end, the cold war was "won," due to the declared independence of the republics, the multi-national structure of the Soviet Union having been denied by the containment policy. In spite of American policy that from the outset reinforced Moscow's control over those very republics. Every single President, Secretary of State, CIA director and NS advisor since 1991 has consistently confounded "RussIa" with "Soviet Union."  Not exactly insightful.  

    After the fall of the USSR, what did we do to ensure that there wasn't a reprise? Nothing. We took our marbles and went home.  There was now a new game in town, with only one rule:  only one player allowed. 

    And now we're today.  Until we absorb the predatory nature of who we're dealing with we will be merely celebrating a burlesque of diplomacy. And that requires that we, at along last, break out of a headspinning vortex of reality denial.

    https://www.kyivpost.com/article/opinion/op-ed/victor-rud-art-whose-deal.html

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2017/02/14/isis-doesnt-stand-a-chance-unless-america-engages-russia/#78e8beec5fc1

    http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/ukrainealert/holodomor-remembrance-day-why-the-past-matters-for-the-future

    Cordially,

    Victor Rud


  • 28 Feb 2017 9:23 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    US News and World Report How to Partner with Putin

     Donald Trump should cooperate with Russia sometimes, but counter it when necessary.

     Improving relations with Russia, a priority for President Donald Trump, is a worthy goal. Despite concerns in Congress and among U.S. allies, Trump could make progress by seeking to partner with Russia on some issues, like North Korea, while keeping up heat on others, such as aggression in Ukraine.

     Trump is not the first U.S. president to seek better ties with Moscow soon after being elected. In 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt opened U.S. relations with the USSR, which helped him later deal with Stalin in World War II. In 2001, President George W. Bush declared Putin "trustworthy," and the Kremlin offered only a muted reaction when Bush pulled out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. In 2009, despite Russia's aggression in Georgia the previous August, President Barack Obama launched a reset with Moscow, which helped bring about the New START Treaty and allowed for the transport of supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan – for which Russia's railway companies were well-paid.

     Later, reset momentum waned, but these cases show that at times U.S. presidents can make gains by boosting ties with Moscow. But care must be taken to manage risks. At a time when the Kremlin is alleged to be interfering in U.S. and European elections, Western political leaders and their constituents may not support new concessions to Moscow.

     Dealing with the Kremlin is risky if it shows no interest in reciprocal action. Despite several Minsk peace accords, Russia persists in its war against eastern Ukraine. Moscow is violating the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty while stonewalling U.S. objections.

     Risks rise if the Kremlin sees an interlocutor as irresolute. Moscow may have discerned this in Obama's refusal to supply Ukraine with lethal defensive arms, or to counter Russian military intervention in Syria.

     Risks also climb if one looks eager. This was so at Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's December summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Despite Abe's gushing about a potential breakthrough on long-disputed islands, the Kremlin leader was obdurate.

     Because of controversy over his Russia policy and the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn, Trump may have less leeway to negotiate with the Kremlin than did some earlier presidents.

     A prudent course for Trump is to pursue cooperation with Moscow when interests are shared, and confront it as necessary. President Ronald Reagan showed how. In 1987, he and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev reached the historic Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty even as America was supplying Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to Afghan fighters resisting Soviet military occupation.

     America would suffer if all cooperation with Russia were entirely ended. U.S. astronauts could not reach the International Space Station. U.S. oil companies, with vital technology, could not drill in Russia's energy-rich offshore Arctic region. Cooperation between U.S. and Russian scientists helps avert nuclear proliferation and terrorism. Last June, a Russian rocket, the world's most powerful, launched a U.S. spy satellite into space. In this regard, Trump can find fruitful ways to advance cooperation with Russia in such areas as non-sanctioned trade, countering violent extremism, science, student and faculty exchanges and tourism.

     At the same time, the president should reaffirm America's determination to resist Moscow's aggression and intimidation against neighbors, and call on the Kremlin to stop its nuclear saber-rattling. Trump was wise to make it clear that financial and energy sanctions will remain in place until Russia pulls its forces and the rebels it controls out of eastern Ukraine, ceases its war there and returns the region to Kiev's control. The White House was correct to state that Crimea must ultimately return to Ukraine's sovereignty, but ending the hot war in eastern Ukraine should take priority.

     William Courtney is an adjunct senior fellow at the nonpartisan, nonprofit RAND Corporation. He was U.S. ambassador to Kazakhstan, Georgia, and a U.S.-Soviet commission to implement the Threshold Test Ban Treaty.

     https://www.usnews.com/opinion/world-report/articles/2017-02-28/donald-trump-can-work-with-russia-and-counter-it-too

     

  • 22 Feb 2017 3:17 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Russian media on Feb. 22 released the text of a letter allegedly sent by the ousted former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to U.S. President Donald Trump.

    Yanukovych claimed that he had sent letters to Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Russian President Vladimir Putin in an interview published on Feb. 22 by German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel.

    In the letter, Yanukovych gives his own chronology of the events of the EuroMaidan Revolution and Russia’s subsequent war on Ukraine in the Donbas. He also sets out his view on how the situation in Ukraine can be resolved.

    Click Here to Read the Article and Letter


  • 17 Feb 2017 2:51 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko had a telephone call with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

    http://bit.ly/2lTcbSN

    U.S. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson in his remarks following the meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov http://wapo.st/2lrxJoB

    White House spokesman Sean Spicer said at a daily news briefing (Feb. 14, 2017):

    "President Trump has made it very clear that he expects the Russian government to de-escalate violence in Ukraine and return Crimea".

    http://bit.ly/2kxmrQ6

    Ukraine is making progress against tough odds. It deserves US support.

    BY FORMER AMB. ALEXANDER VERSHBOW, the Hill

    http://bit.ly/2kGAWfR

    Why Conflict in Eastern Ukraine is not a Civil War

    Russian propaganda has put tremendous effort to deceive the whole world by disguising its military aggression in eastern Ukraine. One of the borderline cynical and most frequently used myths is covering Russia’s invasion, occupation and war crimes as the civil war in Ukraine. The new infographics developed by Ukraine Crisis Media Center consistently and factually disproves the lies of the Kremlin propagandists.


  • 17 Feb 2017 2:45 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

     
    February17,2017 Foreign Policy Initiative Brief on Ukraine

    Ukraine this spring will renew its search for human remains at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, Dutch Security and Justice Minister Stef Blok has said. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
     
    Denis Voronenkov, the former Russian lawmaker who fled in October and has since taken Ukrainian citizenship, has come ready to chastise President Vladimir Putin, who he once supported, and his native Russia. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
     
    Alexander Vershbow writes: A sovereign, democratic Ukraine finds itself undermined at every turn by a provocative Russian neighbor desperate to see it fail, yet Ukraine is moving forward against all odds. The Ukrainian people know firsthand how hard it is to build a democracy. They deserve our reassurance they are not in this alone. – The Hill

    Recent Russian military provocations are probably motivated by President Vladi­mir Putin’s belief that President Trump has been politically weakened by controversies surrounding his administration, Trump said Thursday. – Washington Post
     
    Defense Secretary Jim Mattis appeared to close the door Thursday on increased military ties between the United States and Russia, dimming, for the moment, prospects that President Trump’s election would soon usher in warmer relations. – New York Times
     
    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made his debut on the world stage Thursday, meeting the Russian foreign minister and urging Moscow to pull back in eastern Ukraine, then signing a joint statement condemning North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test. – Washington Post
     
    For days, news reports have noted the presence of a Russian naval ship lurking in international waters off the East Coast of the United States. For some critics of President Trump, the vessel has become a symbol of the administration’s ties with Russia. – New York Times
     
    The first meeting between the top military officers in the United States and Russia since 2014 resulted in an agreement on enhancing communication to avoid “unintended incidents," the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Thursday. – The Hill
     
    Moscow is instructing Russian state media to reduce their favorable coverage of President Trump, Bloomberg reported on Thursday. – The Hill
     
    Defense Secretary James Mattis on Thursday said that there was "very little doubt" Russia has attempted to interfere in democratic elections in the past. – The Hill
     
    The last major Russian spy arrested on U.S. soil was busted for seeking the kind of information retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn has been accused of dishing out. – The Daily Beast
     
    Russian officials had been cautiously optimistic that the US under Mr Trump could rebuild relations with Moscow but they have turned guarded and in some cases suspicious and frustrated, mirroring sentiment in European capitals. – Financial Times

  • 16 Feb 2017 11:35 AM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Ukraine’s nearly three-year battle against Kremlin-backed separatists in the east erupted into the worst fighting in two years in late January. Exactly why the fighting intensified recently remains unclear, though such encounters have occurred with some frequency during unrest that included Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014. – Los Angeles Times
     
    An international mediator says Ukraine's warring sides have agreed to withdraw heavy weapons from the front line by February 20 in line with the Minsk peace plan. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
     
    Ukraine on Wednesday accused Russian hackers of targeting its power grid, financial system and other infrastructure with a new type of virus that attacks industrial processes, the latest in a series of cyber offensives against the country. - Reuters
     
    Alexander Motyl writes: So, arm Ukraine now. Peace will come to eastern Ukraine only after Russia and its tyrannical president decide they want peace. But the chances of violence can be decreased if Ukraine has the wherewithal to defend itself against Russian violence. – Atlantic Council
     

    Foreign Policy Initiative Brief on Ukraine


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