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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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  • 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


  • 10 Feb 2017 10:47 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Newsweek: Trump vows to ‘find out’ nature of separatist forces in Ukraine

    U.S. President Donald Trump has promised to “find out” the nature of the pro-Russian forces fighting the Ukrainian government, casting doubt over whether they are controlled by Russia. Read More


  • 10 Feb 2017 10:40 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Foreign Policy Initiative: News Articles of Interest as of February 10, 2017

    The United States under President Donald Trump is unlikely to abandon Ukraine, a country at war with Russian-backed separatists, in favor of closer ties with Moscow, Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said Thursday. – Stars and Stripes
     
    National security adviser Michael Flynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials, current and former U.S. officials said. – Washington Post
     
    In his January call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump condemned a 2010 nuclear arms-reduction treaty as a bad deal for the U.S., Reuters reported Thursday. – The Hill
     
    There was bipartisan agreement in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday that the legislative branch should take decisive action against Russia, even if that means circumventing the White House’s expressed desire for a better relationship between the two nations. – The Hill
     
    Senate Foreign Policy Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and the panel's ranking member, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), on Thursday slammed President Trump's comments equating the actions of the United States with state-sanctioned murder in Russia. – The Hill
     
    A former acting director of the Defense Intelligence Agency advised Trump administration officials to take a “strategic approach” to Russia that could involve sending defensive weapons to Ukraine or extending U.S. missile defense to the Baltic states. – The Hill
     
    Now, a new network for Russian speakers has entered the market and it hopes to break through the drumbeat of Kremlin narratives by focusing on local issues and people’s daily lives. Current Time, backed by U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Free Liberty and partnered with Voice of America, launched its 24/7 Russian language television channel on Tuesday. It had already started a website last year. – Foreign Policy’s The Cable
     
    US President Donald J. Trump needs to take a strong stance against Russian aggression in order to protect US national security interests, according to an Atlantic Council expert. – Atlantic Council
     
    Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman is rejecting suggestions that the Kremlin and the Trump Administration may try to negotiate a deal over the war in eastern Ukraine. – Associated Press
     
    The possibility of extending a pivotal Russia-U.S. arms control pact is to be discussed in prospective talks with Washington, the Kremlin said Friday. – Associated Press
     
    Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny accused the Kremlin of trying to block him from running in next year's presidential election after a court on Wednesday found him guilty of embezzlement. - Reuters
     
    Russia's Constitutional Court on Friday ordered a review of the conviction of prominent anti-Kremlin activist Ildar Dadin and said a law that criminalized protests had to be applied more proportionately - Reuters


  • 10 Feb 2017 7:49 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    FPI Bulletin: Russian Provocations Put U.S. on Notice


    By FPI Senior Policy Analyst Evan Moore

    What price will Vladimir Putin charge for an improvement in U.S.-Russian relations? Just days after Putin’s first phone call to President Trump, combined Russian-separatist forces launched a significant attack in eastern Ukraine. Shortly thereafter, Russian dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza was apparently poisoned and fell into a coma. The hesitation of the Trump White House to condemn either development suggests that the cost of improving relations with Russia may be a diminished concern for the rights and the security of both Russian citizens and Russia’s neighbors.
     
    A Tepid Response
     
    While bipartisan concerns about human rights have long stood in the way of closer ties with the Kremlin, President Trump has stunned both Republicans and Democrats with his efforts to excuse the brutality of the Putin regime. When interviewer Bill O’Reilly questioned the prospects for an effective partnership with a “killer” like Putin, Trump insisted that the United States was no better than Russia, since “We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think — our country’s so innocent?” Regrettably, O’Reilly did not ask Trump to justify his comparison of the United States to a government that tortures and executes its critics.
     
    With regard to Putin’s foreign aggression, the White House has avoided any suggestion that Russia is responsible for the war in Ukraine. After Trump’s first telephone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko, the White House released a brief and nonspecific summary that carefully omitted both any statement of blame for the recent violence as well as any indication of support for Kyiv’s independence. What’s more, the summary attributed to President Trump the puzzling statement that he wanted to help Russia and Ukraine “restore peace along the border.” The war, however, is not along the border but deep within eastern Ukraine, where government troops face combined Russian-separatist forces along a 250-mile front.
     
    The one forceful statement about Russia came from U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who said “The United States stands with the people of Ukraine, who have suffered for nearly three years under Russian occupation and military intervention. Until Russia and the separatists it supports respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, this crisis will continue.” At her confirmation hearing in January, Haley spoke candidly about Russian war crimes in Syria. For now, Haley’s voice seems to be one of dissent within an administration that would prefer not to acknowledge Putin’s true nature.
     
    Policy Options
     
    As a candidate and as president, Trump has adamantly called for a partnership with Russia in order to destroy the Islamic State. He has brushed aside considerable evidence that neither Russia nor its Syrian clients have much interest in the rapid destruction of the Islamic State. What’s more, Trump has suggested the pursuit of a counter-ISIS partnership with Russia would require the United States to lift the sanctions it imposed following the annexation of Crimea. 
     
    The false premise of a partnership with Russia is that Washington and Moscow have similar interests, especially in Syria. While Russian officials frequently insist that ISIS is their target, Russian bombs mainly fall on other opposition groups, who pose the most serious threat to Assad’s regime. According to the State Department, illicit Syrian purchases of ISIS oil are now the Islamic State’s largest source of revenue. Yet while accomplishing little in the fight against ISIS, a partnership with Russia would betray American values and harm those we seek to protect. David Satter of the Hudson Institute warns that strong American ties to the Kremlin would “cripple the Russian opposition, contribute to the propagandizing of the population, and diminish the ability of the U.S. to prevent internal and foreign Russian atrocities.”
     
    Another price of partnership with Russia is that it undermines the rationale for maintaining the sanctions imposed in response to the invasions of Crimea and eastern Ukraine. As Trump observed, “If you get along and if Russia is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebody’s doing some really great things?” Republican leaders in Congress—not to mention Democrats—reject the premise of Trump’s argument. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) called for maintaining sanctions while rejected the “relativism” and “moral equivalency” that inform the president’s respect for Vladimir Putin. The position of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was also unequivocal. “These sanctions were imposed because of their behavior in Crimea, eastern Ukraine and now we know they’ve been messing around in our elections as well,” he said. “If there’s any country in the world that doesn’t deserve sanctions relief, it’s Russia.”
     
    While the president currently has the ability to waive or rescind most sanctions on Russia, a bipartisan coalition of senators has introduced the Countering Russian Hostilities Act in order to limit the president’s discretion. This legislation would prevent any legal recognition of Russia’s actions in Ukraine or Georgia, and also codify existing sanctions that were issued via executive orders during the Obama administration. Similar bipartisan legislation, the Russia Sanctions Review Act, was introduced Wednesday.  This measure would allow prohibit the president from lifting sanctions against Russia until Congress ensures that Moscow has indeed ceased its aggression in Ukraine.
     
    These efforts represent the first major attempt by Congress to influence foreign policy in the Trump administration. At the same time, they reflect continuity with the Obama years, when similar bipartisan coalitions challenged the president’s passivity with regard to Russia. The most important outcome of such efforts was the Magnitsky Act of 2012, which authorized sanctions against human rights offenders. In 2016, there was broad bipartisan support for expanding the Act so that it applied to offenders across the globe.  If Trump continues to insist on establishing a cooperative relationship with Russia– even as Putin continues his aggression – then these ad hoc coalitions should become something more: a bipartisan front to counter the White House’s mistaken approach when possible.
     
    Tactics and Principles
     
    The upsurge of fighting in Ukraine and poisoning of Vladmir Kara-Murza are a moment of truth, and should lead the administration to revisit what type of relationship is possible to achieve with Russia, and what it is willing to sacrifice in order to achieve it.  Foreign policy experts in Congress should likewise evaluate the administration’s next moves toward Moscow and prepare to work with their colleagues to secure America’s interests when they are in conflict with the president’s.
     
    This crisis is not just a tactical dilemma. It reflects deeper questions about America’s role in the world and whether we will act in accordance with our liberal democratic principles. The choice here is not between a liberal or conservative approach to national security, but between the lessons of the past 70 years and the willful imitation of our authoritarian rivals, whose foreign policies are driven by fear of their own citizens.

    the Foreign Policy Initiative


  • 10 Feb 2017 7:43 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Non-US Subsidiaries’ E-Discovery Is Out of Scope, Court Finds

    One of the key changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that went into effect over a year ago was the updated definition of the scope of permissible discovery under Rule 26(b)(1). While there have been a number of court decisions that have interpreted this new language, some practitioners—and courts—still continue to cite to the old version of the Rule. In a recent decision, Judge David G. Campbell of the U.S. District Court of Arizona, who was the chair of the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules during the drafting and enactment process for the amended Rules, analyzed and applied the new version of Rule 26(b)(1) in finding requested e-discovery from a party’s non-U.S. subsidiaries to be out of scope. He also used the decision as an opportunity to remind the bench and bar that the Rule changed on Dec. 1, 2015 and that they should not rely on the old version of the Rule.  NY Law Journal   Read More

    [Ed. Note] Lidia M. (Kryzanivsky)  Kekis e-discovery attorney, assistedin the preparation of this article


  • 10 Feb 2017 3:52 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) Takes Strong Stance in Support of Ukraine

    In Senator Cory Booker’s interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper.  he called for the U.S. “to step[…] up our actions against Russia, whether it be added sanctions or more continued support for those trying to literally defend themselves from Russian encroachments like […] Ukraine.”  View Video and read transcript

  • 07 Feb 2017 4:46 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Dear Mr. Shandor:

     

    Thank you for contacting me about President Trump’s nomination of Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson to serve as Secretary of State.  Your opinion is very important to me, and I appreciate the opportunity to respond to you on this critical issue.  

     

    On January 11, 2017, I had the opportunity to question Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about Exxon’s efforts to lobby against sanctions imposed on Russia and Iran; President Trump’s promise to make Mexico pay to build a wall along our southern border and his past degrading comments about Mexican immigrants; and what efforts he would take, if confirmed, to advance human rights and democracy in nations that are known to operate under repressive and corrupt regimes. 

     

    After carefully considering his nomination to be the Secretary of State, I casted my vote against Mr. Tillerson’s confirmation in both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and on the Senate Floor. 

     

    The role of Secretary of State in today’s increasingly challenging times requires a candidate who possesses extensive experience in foreign policy and the ability work through the complexities of international diplomacy while advancing America’s interests and leadership around the world.  The United States faces numerous challenges and opportunities around the world.  We need a qualified leader to be our Secretary of State who can represent and articulate our foreign policy and national security interests.  Our nation’s top diplomat must be a qualified leader with proven knowledge and regard for the norms and necessities that so much of our modern diplomatic and security efforts depend upon.  Since I expressed my grave concerns over Tillerson's qualifications for the position of Secretary of State, and his clear conflict of interests with Vladimir Putin and Russian oil companies, I have seen nothing to ease my concerns. 

     

    Additionally, I have long fought in the Senate to reduce harmful pollution that contaminates our air and water and changes our climate.  I remain committed to ensuring that the United States fulfills its international obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris climate agreement and continues its transition away from dirty fossil fuels.  I have serious concerns about Mr. Tillerson’s history on climate change at ExxonMobil, and will carefully weigh that history as I evaluate his nomination to be Secretary of State in the Trump Administration.  While Mr. Tillerson has experience in leading a business, deal making is not the same as diplomacy, and we need a diplomat who will lead with the values of democracy, promoting human rights, and promoting long term stability and security for all Americans. 

     

    As a senior member of the Senate committee tasked with vetting our next Secretary of State, I will do everything at my disposal to ensure our nation's next diplomat-in-chief is someone who has the experience, insights and capabilities to truly protect America’s best interests and preserve our essential alliances across the globe. 

     

    Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.  Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance.  I invite you to visit my website (http://menendez.senate.gov) to learn more about how I am standing up for New Jersey families in the United States Senate.

     

    Sincerely

    BOB MENENDEZ

    United States Senator

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