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  • 20 May 2017 11:15 AM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Ukraine's Independence Is Still Essential To U.S. Security And Stability

    As Published in Forbes

    GUEST POST WRITTEN BY
    Victor Rud
    Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs for the Ukrainian American Bar Association. 

    At the G7 meeting in Italy on April 11, Rex Tillerson asked: “Why should U.S. taxpayers be interested in Ukraine?” Predictably, he monetized the issue—“taxpayers,” not simply “Americans.” Regardless, none of the ensuing commentary got to the heart of the matter.

    The overarching answer is that Ukraine’s independence in 1991 ensured the dissolution of the “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics,” saving the West from an apocalyptic trajectory. Not surprising, since Russian occupation and control of Ukraine was pivotal both to the creation of the USSR and to its continuing viability (Lenin: "if we lose Ukraine we lose our head”). Ironically, America was trying to preserve the USSR intact, with President Bush Sr. visiting Ukraine at the time, importuning it to back off. However, “when, in the course of human events . . ." Ukraine reclaimed its independence, there was no contrition inside the Beltway. Washington simply pivoted and applauded its ostensible success. President Bush declared in his State of the Union address that “by the grace of God, America won the Cold War.” And President Bush Jr. wrote that it was “one of the most stunning diplomatic achievements in history” and “a peaceful end to the Cold War.”


    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) meets with Ukraine's Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin at the State Department in Washington, DC on March 7, 2017. (Photo credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

    But if that was good, then ensuring that it remains that way is not just good, but paramount. Unfortunately, we suffer from a national attention deficit disorder. President Obama had dismissed Ukraine as being a “core interest” of the U.S. Does that mean that the disintegration of the Soviet Union was a non-event? Have we inoculated ourselves against understanding the consequences of a Kremlin claw back? Will Mutual Assured Destruction reenter the lexicon, and our school children relearn “duck and cover”?

    Here’s what the current Administration must absorb.

    Ukraine’s independence is a sine qua non for not just American, but global security and stability. Supporting it is the safest, most effective and cheapest strategy (past Presidents of both Parties notwithstanding) to counterbalance accelerating Russian aggression. Ukrainians have traditionally harbored a sense of democracy, individualism and a drive toward civic society that any American would recognize. Ukraine is the largest country in Europe, the size of England, Germany, Hungary and Israel, combined. With a democratic and civic tradition that Russia never had, Ukraine produced Europe’s first constitution for a representative democracy, outlining the separation of powers, and the concept of checks and balances. It preceded Philadelphia by 77 years, and was years ahead of Montesquieu’s The Spirit of the Laws. A coincidental intersection of today’s news with history and geography recalls a time even earlier, and the historian Paul of Aleppo (Syria) said: “Although a stranger I felt myself at home in Ukraine. But in Muscovy my heart felt heavy, for wherever I went no one was even a little free . . . . Those who want to shorten their life by fifteen years must go to the land of Muscovy. In Ukraine I found joy in life, freedom and civilization."

    Russia’s internal oppression and external marauding depend on its ability to wrap 11% of the Earth’s landmass in hermetically sealed truthlessness, unspooled now to the rest of the globe. Like Israel in the Middle East, Ukraine must anchor stability in Europe. “Russia is a whole separate world, submissive to the will, caprice, fantasy of a single man. . . . Russia moves only in the direction of her own enslavement and the enslavement of all the neighboring peoples. For this reason it would be in the interest of not only other peoples, but also her own that she be compelled to take a new path.” So wrote Pyotr Chaadavey. That was in 1854. The example of an independent, democratic Ukraine would puncture Putin’s predatory burlesque of reality, at home and abroad. We would no longer be whipsawed by Putin’s choice of time, place and circumstance. At long last, the Kremlin would have to turn inward to address the infection of democracy from a Ukrainian bacillus.

    Pavel Sudoplatov and his boss understood Russia’s worst nightmare, summarized by French historian and philosopher Voltaire: “Ukrainians have always sought freedom.” Sudoplatov was Stalin’s favorite killer (as we know, Vladimir Putin has heaped hosannas on Stalin without a murmur from the “Western democracies”.) Sudoplatov was the Grand Master of the Masters, a pinup boy in the “Memory Room” of the same school where Putin matriculated—the Cheka/GPU/NKVD/KGB/FSB. He was the wunderkind of the Directorate of “mokrije djela”—“wet deeds,” and is in the pantheon of Putin’s heroes. Sudoplatov masterminded the ice pick into the skull of Stalin’s unfriend, Leon Trotsky, AWOL in Mexico. Stalin then tasked Sudoplatov with penetrating America’s top secret Manhattan Project during WWII. He was also charged with drawing up psychological profiles of President Roosevelt and the U.S. delegation to the infamous Yalta (yes, that’s in Crimea) Conference toward the end of WWII.

    But Sudoplatov’s most consequential role was his participation in what he wrote openly in his memoirs—Moscow’s  “75 year war against Ukraine.” Sudoplatov was not just a hands-on assassin, but was a key player in battling Ukraine’s resistance to Moscow’s rule. Sudoplatov wrote that that war "formally [my emphasis] ended” with world recognition of Ukraine. Odd. A 75 year war against a nation that, according to Putin “doesn’t even exist.” Putin’s statement was rather a subliminal trumpet of his mens rea.

    It’s bizarre that what is of such strategic interest to the Kremlin has not been of strategic interest to the United States. We even put ourselves into harness in Moscow’s war. Three years after the “end of the Cold War” we required that Ukraine (why not Russia?) surrender the third world’s largest nuclear arsenal. Seemingly to keep nuclear arms away from terrorists, we punished the victim, with much of the arsenal and enriched uranium transferred to Russia, the original terrorist state. The trade-off was multi-lateral assurances of Ukraine’s sovereignty. Add Washington’s subsequent destruction of Ukraine’s conventional weaponry, with a junior Senator from Illinois declaring: “We need to eliminate these stockpiles for the safety of the Ukrainian people and people around the world by keeping them out of conflicts.” The largest country in the world, however, had its own rules of etiquette and invaded, occupied and annexed parts of Ukraine. The Ukrainian city of Donetsk, where Senator Obama stood, is now devastated and occupied by Russia. The largest war in Europe since WWII is now in its fourth year. Ukraine, less than 3% the size of the colossus to the North, is fighting alone. (“Sanctions”? Flaccid, mono-synaptic, and barely tethered.)

    If the preceding is excused as American fecklessness, being an actual enabler has a cheerless history. We awarded diplomatic recognition to the Soviet Union in 1933, as Stalin was waging a war of starvation against Ukraine. It was the ultimate Weapon of Mass Destruction. Ever responsive to the siren call of “doing business,” the United States, as Stalin’s ultimate target, rewarded his genocide. Millions of Ukrainians were killed, one-third of them infants and children. But the viability of the Soviet Union was (with Sudoplatov’s “wet deeds”) ensured for a few more generations. And we suffered the consequences. Directly. For good measure, after WWII we joint ventured with the NKVD, the KGB’s/FSB’s predecessor, in a dragnet of  the survivors who sought refuge in Europe and the U.S. It was a messy affair. The ultimate immigration policy was not a mistake. The sobriquet, “Operation Keelhaul,” says it all: we intended to punish the truth tellers who saw America as their deliverance.

    On March 3, 2014, President Obama intoned that with its invasion of Ukraine, Russia “was on the wrong side of history.” Prior Administrations had already joined in a pas de deux with Russia on the dark side. If the current Administration doesn’t at long last absorb America’s “core interest” in Ukraine, furrowed brows and sonorous clichés will not conceal our complicity in jack booting the international order. Multinational and bi-lateral agreements, treaties and accords of all strips, somberly paraded at the time, will become less than so much pabulum. President Ford said of the Helsinki Accords at the time: “History will judge us not by the promises we make, but by the promises we keep.”

    But there’s more. If we barter away the victim that was pivotal to the fall of the USSR, we would justly be condemned for our moral sordor and our sterilizing wash of history. Any certainty about America’s word that may have survived to that point will evaporate.

    And what will friend and foe conclude about Washington’s grip on reality if it yet again squanders its most significant geopolitical asset as a counterweight to Russian predation? Putin’s unbridled contempt for America’s—and Europe’s—provocative pusillanimity will become even more palpable. Ditto North Korea, Iran, Syria and China. Another “Cuban Missile Crisis” today will not end as was then described by Secretary of State Dean Rusk, “We’re eyeball to eyeball, and I think the other fellow just blinked.”

    Twenty years before Mr. Tillerson’s question, a study by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace concluded: “Whether Russian led integration on the territory of the former USSR will pose a serious, long-term military challenge to the West, depends in large part on the role that Ukraine plays or is compelled to play. . . . Ukraine will do much to determine whether Europe and the world in the twenty-first century will be as bloody as they were in the twentieth.” On April 13, The Wall Street Journal ran a front-page article on Mr. Tillerson’s ensuing meeting in Moscow. Inexplicably—no, predictably—the piece mentioned Ukraine in all of one clause in one sentence. The author and three more contributors labored over the article.

    If “U.S. taxpayers” are not interested in Ukraine, a tour of the “Memory Room” is in order. Without that, taxes will be the least of our concerns.

  • 16 Feb 2017 8:26 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    “I didn’t direct him but I would have directed him if he didn’t do it”

    February 16, 2017

    Trial lawyers quite often unexpectedly strike upon the naked truth when asking a very simple question. The response they receive frequently unintentionally illustrates and exposes the true aims of the witness. At today’s news conference, President Trump was asked a simple question –did he authorize General Michael Flynn to communicate with the Russians during his presidential transition period.  The President’s response – “I didn’t direct him but I would have directed him if he didn’t do it”

    This response must be viewed in the context of what General Flynn was allegedly discussing with the Russian ambassador – sanctions!  The Obama administration has imposed economic sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine; and the very day before General Flynn’s conversations, President Obama had imposed more restrictive sanctions in response to Russia’s illegal hacking of the email servers of American political institutions with the objective of undermining the fundamental principles of American democracy.  Apparently, contact by Trump advisors with Russian intelligence even predated his nomination to the presidency. USA TODAY elaborates on this timeline in its article of yesterday.

    Vladimir Putin’s uncharacteristic temperate response to the newly imposed sanctions evidences that Gen. Flynn probability signaled to the President of Russia that under the new Trump Administration, sanctions would be eased.  The issue now presented to the American public is – would then Elect-President Trump have directed Gen. Flynn to advise Vladimir Putin that as President, he would likely be lifting sanctions in his new Administration?  Is this the foreign policy agenda that we should anticipate from the new Administration?

    It is now imperative that Congress play a major role in formulating a strong American foreign policy vis-à-vis Russia since apparently the Trump Administration may not be willing to do so.  As suggested by the Atlantic Council, sanctions against Russia must be codified.  The legislation, “The Counteracting Russian Hostilities Act of 2017,”  would require approval from Congress before any sanctions against Russia are lifted.  It has now become self-evident that this is the only way in which effective measures against Russia can be taken in support of the international rule of law and to protect our democracy.  If this Administration will not do it, then Congress must!

    For further information, please contact
    Myroslaw Smorodsky, Esq.
    Communications Director of the Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA)
    Tel: 201-507-4500; Email; myroslaw@smorodsky.com; Website; www.smorodsky.com


  • 14 Feb 2017 7:09 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    ISIS Doesn't Stand A Chance, Unless America 'Engages' Russia

    FORBES  GUEST POST WRITTEN BY

    Victor Rud
    Mr. Rud is past chairman of the Ukrainian American Bar Association's Board of Governors. He now chairs its Foreign Affairs Committee.

    The proposal that America engage Russia to fight Islamic terrorism is beyond folly. Russia’s recent intrusion into America’s electoral process may flag caution. But that is woefully insufficient. The proposal is either willed ignorance or studied reality reversal.

    First, the proposal dismisses Russia as the overarching existential threat to our existence, both as a free democratic society and physically. For all its savagery, ISIS is not an existential threat, whether to the U.S. or to Europe. ISIS beheads individuals. The Kremlin decapitates entire democratic processes. Russia has and is everything ISIS does not and is not. Russia remains, as was the Soviet Union, the largest country on earth, including an entire third of Asia. It seamlessly projects its power across 11 times zones, from Europe to the Sea of Japan to miles within the U.S. border. Its combined nuclear/conventional/chemical/biological arsenal transcends anything we can muster.

    The USSR was established as the quintessential terrorist state, and was never merely a “state sponsor” of terrorism. Its terror was organized, methodical and above all hyperbolic, eclipsing anything that ISIS can engineer. The very reason for it all was to establish the structure that would destroy the West, more specifically the greatest Satan of them all (as is for ISIS), the United States.

    Terror was bequeathed to Stalin’s protégé as a sensual imperative that also imbues ISIS.

    Instead of contrition or apology, Putin embraces that legacy. He is the Darwinian product of 450 years since the founding of the first secret police, the Oprechnina. “Superior negotiating skills” will not reverse that DNA spiral. Russia thus has a huge asset that ISIS does not. Our visceral reaction against ISIS is absolute. But Putin’s worship of Stalin and adoption of his tactics triggers no comparable reaction in the West. To better understand the point, consider a former Gestapo officer presiding over a Germany that never admits or repents, but instead glorifies Hitler and its Nazi past, and invades Denmark and Holland as “threats” to its security.

    Second, the proposal requires that we engage Russia to assist (how, exactly?) countering a secondary danger whose (i) very creation Russia enabled, aided and abetted, that (ii) it continues to promote, and that (iii) it continues to be the beneficiary of. ISIS’s genome was engineered by Moscow as “Arab Nationalism” in the 1970s and 1980s, training and directing the terrorist assault on the West. The 1972 Munich Olympics. The bomb attack in Brussels on General Alexander Haig, commander of NATO. The bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983. The attack on the USS Cole.

    Moscow’s Patrice Lumumba “Friendship” University seconded foreigners to embed Moscow’s agenda in their own countries. Yassar Arafat was one, the KGB’s makeover receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. Iran’s Ayatollah Khomenei was another. There were thousands. Home-grown, non-Arab terrorists were even better: Venezuelan Carlos the Jackal, Germans Ulrike Meinhoff, French terrorist Regis Debray and former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi. All were either direct KGB agents or KGB financed.

    Moscow never renounced its imperatives in birthing and sustaining Islamic terrorism, Putin declaring at the 2003 conference of the Islamic Conference Organization that Russia was Islam’s historical defender. Alexander Litvinenko was the ex-KGB officer who defected and who in 2005 was assassinated by Moscow in London using Polonium 210—nuclear warfare in Magna Carta’s front yard. He had revealed that Ayman al-Zawahiri, the head of al-Qaeda, had been trained by the KGB in Dagestan, a region currently controlled by Russia and that was tied to the two Boston Marathon bombers. We know that Al-Zawahiri planned 9/11 with Osama Bin Laden. More recently, the KGB has supplied recruits for ISIS from its North Caucasus and Central Asia regions.

    “Radical Islamic terror” serves Russia’s purpose perfectly. Why should Putin refuse its benefit? The smoke had not cleared from the Boston Common before Putin called President Obama to intone his sympathy. Particularly for Americans (and, importantly, as much viscerally as cerebrally), the bombing by two Chechen brothers rebranded Putin’s genocidal war against Chechnya as a campaign against “Islamic terrorism” (Chechens are conveniently Muslim). This, in turn, neutralized Litvinenko’s revelation that the Russian apartment bombings (which were Putin’s pretext for that genocide) had been the work of Putin himself. We were thereby relieved of any moral tug that we may have had over Moscow’s assassination of Litvinenko. At the end, we were presented with seeming proof of Russia’s common cause with America in fighting “Islamic terror.” With preceding circumstances, motive, opportunity and benefit established, history will show the Kremlin’s advance knowledge of the two Tsarnaev brothers’ intentions, and that it could have prevented the Boston horror. It willfully did not. If a dirty bomb explodes in Friendship, Maine, or thousands in Topeka simultaneously die from “natural causes,” the last cry heard may be “Allah Akbar.” We should then well ponder if that’s as far as it goes.

    Third, the proposal eviscerates America’s values and principles—its greatest weaponry in the world—by endorsing their denial. Russia’s “common interest” is not with Washington. It’s with ISIS. How many attacks by ISIS have there been in Russia? Precisely. Russian fundamentalism is at one with radical Islamic fundamentalism: the subversion and destruction of Western values and its societal structure. Both market a vitriolic anti-Western ideology, a faux morality playing the “Western society is immoral” card. Both Russia and ISIS are propelled to kill. For both, it’s more than a duty. It’s an entitlement. Heads of teenagers sent in a wooden box to their mothers, death for a cartoon, the hacking off of limbs, the terrorization of civilians, the use of women and children as human shields, locating active firepower in nursery schools and hospitals, castration of prisoners. No, not ISIS, but more than 10,000 innocents killed by Russia in Ukraine and more than 2 million Ukrainian refugees. And Russian incendiary bombs vaporizing toddlers in Aleppo? If America confronts ISIS by embracing ideologues sharing the same murderous purpose and record, our worldwide credibility will suffer even more, and justifiably so.

    Fourth, the proposal means that “We, the People..." will be played as enablers of Russia’s own war of terror against Ukraine and other frontline nations that are defending freedom and “Western values” from the attacks by Russia. Putin is marketing Ukraine’s defense against his invasion of that country as “terrorism.” Little wonder. Russia’s predatory imperative and the sustainability of its threat to American security depend on its destruction of Ukraine as a viable example to Russians of a free, democratic society on their shared border. We have forgotten that Ukraine’s reestablishment of its independence from Moscow in 1991 ensured the fall of the USSR and the putative end of the Cold War. It allowed us to breath a sigh of relief. Today, the proposal to engage Russia makes America the supplicant, asking Russia’s assistance in fighting Islamic terrorism that Russia itself spawned and that aids Russia’s own campaign against the West. As an inducement, we will be required to turn a blind eye to Russia’s predation against Ukraine and other nations. That, in turn, reinforces Russia’s existential threat to us. Ironically, it’s the very denial of that threat that is the precondition for the proposal that we engage with Russia in the first place. Putin is a fan of judo. It would be a great throw... that we’ve designed for use against ourselves.

    Read Article on Forbes


  • 02 Feb 2017 4:34 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Trump’s Folly -- Permitting Transfer of Information Technology to Russia’s Secret Service  

    Within two weeks to the day of the inauguration of Pres. Donald J. Trump, his administration has authorized [GENERAL LICENSE NO. 1 Authorizing Certain Transactions with the Federal Security Service] the issuance of permits for the importation, distribution and use of information technology products requested by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) for use in Russia. 

    In doing so, [less than one week after his reportedly  unrecorded call with Vladimir Putin] the new administration has expeditiously modified Pres. Obama’s Executive Order 13757 of December 28, 2016 ("Taking Additional Steps to Address the National Emergency With Respect to Significant Malicious Cyber Enabled Activities"), which prohibits the transfer of such technology to entities found “to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have engaged in, directly or indirectly, cyber enabled activities originating from, or directed by persons located, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States that are reasonably likely to result in, or have materially contributed to, a significant threat to the national security, foreign policy, or economic health or financial stability of the United States…..’.   Specifically targeted by Pres. Obama are entities involved “in tampering with, altering, or causing a misappropriation of information with the purpose or effect of interfering with or undermining election processes or institutions.’

    The lingering and haunting question is WHY?

    It is beyond reasonable doubt that Russia, at the highest political level of authority and through its Secret Service [FSB], has been for years tampering and hacking email servers of our political parties, politicians, and other entities in the United States.  All our intelligence agencies and experts in the internet security field have come to this undeniable conclusion.  It is beyond comprehension or explanation that now, despite the obvious, the new administration is suddenly authorizing the issuance of export licenses [to the very entities that cyber attacked the US] for the transfer of better and more effective technology that can and will be used to harm our country.  

    The founder of the USSR, Vladimir Lenin said “The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them."  One of his disciples who lamented that the fall of the Soviet Union was one of the greatest tragedies in the 20th Century, Russian President Vladimir Putin, has now convinced the President of the United States to sell him that rope.

    Myroslaw Smorodsky, Esq.
    Communications Director of the Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA)
    Tel: 201-507-4500; Email; myroslaw@smorodsky.com; Website; www.smorodsky.com

    Victor Rud, Esq.
    Chairman, Committee on International Affairs & Foreign Policy
    Ukrainian American Bar Association


  • 12 Jan 2017 1:11 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    The art of whose deal?

    By Victor Rud Published Jan. 10 at 4:37 pm Kyiv Post

    Rex Tillerson’s business background for the office of Secretary of State reinforces a massive, overarching handicap in America’s dealing with the keystone issue of international affairs – matters affecting our national security and sovereignty. Nowhere will this be so immediately and dangerously played out as in the articulated approach of the incoming Administration’s desire to “deal” with Russia.

    Domestic commercial “deals” rely on predictable and effective third-party enforcement mechanisms. This translates to the courts and related institutions. Indeed, it’s the fear of consequences – a fear that can be real only if a realistic opportunity for enforcement exists – that militates against a breach occurring in the very first place. Without that, “superior negotiating skills” are irrelevant.

    In the international sphere, the core postulates for a modicum of world order are agreements affecting national sovereignty and international security: the UN Charter, the Helsinki Accords, the UN Genocide Convention, the Budapest Memorandum, and other nuclear and WMD non-proliferation agreements. But an effective and reliable third party enforcement structure for such “deals” is glaringly absent. Like drivers obeying the rules of the road, nations must instead rely on the assumption of reciprocal compliance with the “deal” by other signatories, in the mutual recognition of the self-interest by all.

    It’s a delicate eco-system. If a signatory nation is allowed to trash the underlying premise of the “deal”, and if there are no consequences proportionate to the breach, the entire global structure will implode. The implosion can be cataclysmic when a signatory nation to an international disarmament agreement, for instance, knows that its breaches will be systematically ignored, and that even more agreements will blithely, meaninglessly, follow.

    The incoming Adminstration’s compulsion to blithely translate domestic commercial deal-making to its relationship with Russia is fatuous, and will be disastrous. The first order of business, so to speak, is to understand that America’s domestic, commercial and political DNA both reflects and feeds a mercantile environment of stability and predictability that makes business possible in the first place. We approach international relations similarly, seeing it as essentially a regulatory matter, a relationship among nations simply to be managed for the sake of “stability.” We put our faith in reason, and worship compromise and negotiation. We idolize resulting international agreements as we do domestic ones: as solutions to problems, not as their cause; as resolutions of conflict, not as their catalyst; as enforceable paths forward, not as highways for reversal. We’re hypnotized with “doing the deal.”

    American deal making with Russia does not work. Russia did not become the largest country in the world, steamrolling dozens of nations, through bourgeois deal making. Russia has always been an empire. Its imperial DNA precludes the compromise we worship and the precondition to which is restraint. Moscow vehemently rejects the stability we imagine we’re creating. Its worldview and goals are dynamic, outgoing, and implacably aggressive. Russia plays offense. America plays defense. Russia initiates. America reacts. Russia disrupts. America seeks to stabilize, to preserve, all the while as we cast about wondering, “What do we do now?”

    We never learned Stalin’s encyclical: “agreements are like pie crusts, made to be broken.” Agreements for Russia, therefore, are simply part of maskirovka, intended to divert attention, to placate, to confuse, to buy time. It’s a hologram, another app to be programmed as may be appropriate for the circumstances, as are genocide of all strips, kompromat, dezinformatsia, provokatsia. Excepting purely commercial deals (but only for the duration and extent it so deigns to choose), Moscow’s goal in deal making with “the Americans” in matters of the highest national consequence for us is either (a) to prevent the realization of the very purpose of the agreement, or (b) to ensure the realization of the very opposite. Predictability of Moscow’s compliance is replaced by the predictability of Moscow’s breach.

    It has been this way for generations. It’s beyond rational explanation why, in the context of domestic deal making we require compliance– “you agreed to that, didn’t you?”– whereas in dealing with Russia we do not. To the very contrary. When Moscow breaches, we simply spin the phantasmagoria and call the lawyers to prepare yet another agreement, and so on ad infinitum. Our catatonic return to the table fits precisely Einstein’s definition of insanity: repeating something over and over again that has proven itself to be a failure. At least Pavlov’s dogs received a reward upon the sounding of the bell.

    The Budapest Memorandum is pivotal to America’s international credibility and therefore the utility of any international arrangement with friend or foe, alike. Washington pressured Ukraine to surrender its nuclear arsenal, the third largest at the time, some of it to Ukraine’s age-old persecutor, Russia. For good measure, Washington then oversaw Ukraine’s destruction of its conventional weaponry. Barely four months after Putin’s lament about the fall of the Soviet Union, then Senator Obama delivered the coup d’grace, declaring. “We need to eliminate these stockpiles for the safety of the Ukrainian people and people around the world.” At the time, Obama was standing in Donetsk. That city is no more. Moscow then invades Ukraine, violating every relevant agreement it ever struck, committing war crimes with abandon, never mind that is not on anyone’s radar screen.

    And now what? It’s America under the new Administration that proposes yet another reset with Russia? There can be no greater provocation of Russia than an obsequious, pusillanimous America. And there is no more ironic example in history than that the M(utually) A(ssured) D(estruction) scenario was markedly lessened with the fall of the Soviet Union, itself ensured by Ukrainian independence, now again so horribly violated by Russia. We’re squarely on the trajectory back to MAD. This time, however, when we are checkmated on the chessboard, Mr. Tillerson may not be able to characterize the outcome as did his predecessor, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, of the Cuban Missile Crises at the time: ”We were eyeball to eyeball, and the other side just blinked.”

    The first order of business, so to speak, is to understand that America’s approach to dealing with Russia has failed, and that “deals” don’t work. Our business commercial and political culture both fuels and reflects the ingrained weakness of a representative democracy in dealing with Russia. With scarcely a sense of history, even less of geography, we have a time horizon measured by the next election cycle. With the frustration tolerance of a child, and infatuated with polls, we are prey for the tenacious. President Obama’s “reset” with Russia, and now yet another by the incoming Administration, are no different than the periodic exhilaration that we experienced through the decades.

    As a result, we have compiled a loose-leaf record of crisis management, and swing like a metronome between panic and hope, endlessly responding to the crisis du jour crafted by the Kremlin, which alone determines the choice of time, place and circumstance. In the meantime, Russia has been constant, consistent and immutable. We are being outplayed, outmaneuvered, ricocheting from crisis to crises, perpetually asking ourselves, “what do we do now?”, “how do we react?”

    No worry, though. The Klieg lights beckon. Another agreement, another handshake, another exchange of pens. Not only do we consider it a job well done. We actually convince ourselves that it’s a job completed.

    After all, everyone agreed. We have it in writing.

    Victor Rud is a board member of the Ukrainian American Bar Association and chairman of its Committee on Foreign Affairs.


  • 08 Jan 2017 1:42 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    SEN. R. MENENDEZ MEETS WITH NJ UKRAINIANS, ADDRESSES RUSSIA’S GROWING AGGRESSION, INTERVENTIONISM

    The Senator will question Secretary of State Nominee Rex Tillerson during confirmation hearings 

    On January 6, 2017, UABA representatives Victor Rud [Chairman of the UABA Foreign Relations Committee] and Myroslaw Smorodsky [UABA Communications Director] met with Sen. Robert Menendez together with other members of the Ukrainian American community. [Ronya Lozynskyj &Tamara Olexy - UCCA, and Yuriy Symczyk - UNA]. Senator Menendez (D-NJ) is the senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 

    The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Ukrainian American community’s deep concerns regarding the nomination of Rex Tillerson to be the next Secretary of State and the potentially damaging impact his confirmation can have on Ukraine’s struggle to maintain its territorial integrity and independence. The Ukrainian American Bar Association respectfully submitted to the Senator proposed areas of questioning during the confirmation process of Rex Tillerson with background briefing material for the Senator’s consideration and review in preparation for the hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 

    The briefing documents submitted by the UABA emphasized that The UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act [i.e. the charter document of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] and the various organic documents of the European Union, have had as their linchpin the principle of territorial integrity and security and the inviolability of borders of independent states - maintained peace and stability on the Eurasian continent for over 70 years Moreover, twenty-two years ago, under pressure from the United States, Ukraine agreed to surrender and destroy its nuclear arsenal.  All that Ukraine asked in return was to be given security assurances as to its sovereignty and territorial integrity 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 on December 5, 1994 and are commonly known as the Budapest Memorandum.  Based on the assurances from all the signatories and with specific reliance on these declarations by each of the signatory states, Ukraine surrendered approximately 1600 nuclear warheads.  Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its military invasion into Eastern Ukraine constitute overt and blatant violations of these basic agreements and evidence the Kremlin’s intentional defiance of international rule of law.

    Senator Menendez recognizes that if the United States fails to take any additional more meaningful and effective action in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its military invasion into Eastern Ukraine in violation of international rule of law, it would corrode and undermine America’s credibility in the international arena, destabilize Europe, and greatly fuel Russian international adventurism and expansionism. After the meeting, Senator Menendez held a media press conference.
    Read Senator R. Menendez's Statement

    View Video of Senator R. Menendez’s Press Conference Part 1

    View Video of Senator R. Menendez’s Press Conference Part 2


  • 18 Dec 2016 10:38 AM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Ukrainian Reality and How It Affects Other Countries
    Duke Law School 

    click here to view video

    A discussion of the situation in Ukraine (as of February, 2015) in its legal dimensions, including Ukraine's quest for democracy and rule of law as well as the legal consequences of the Crimean Peninsula's annexation. The emphasis is on the probable outcomes and impacts these events will have on Ukraine as well as other international players. The panelists are: Honorable Bohdan Futey was the U.S. Court of Federal Claims judge in 1987-2014, Victor Rud '76 is an international law attorney and a cofounder of the Ukrainian American Bar Association, Ivanna Bilych is an attorney, civil activist, and board member of Razom for Ukraine (Together for Ukraine). Sponsored by the International Law Society, National Security Law Society and Duke Bar Association.


  • 21 Nov 2016 10:44 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Holodomor Remembrance Day: Why the Past Matters for the Future

    BY VICTOR RUD
    as published by the Atlantic Council

    As Americans sit down to their Thanksgiving meals on the last Thursday in November, Ukrainians will be commemorating the memory of millions who were murdered in 1932-33. The last Saturday in November is Holodomor Remembrance Day in Ukraine, a time to mark the anniversary of Joseph Stalin’s engineered starvation of the nation. In the West, the date should also be remembered as a pivotal event that ensured the viability of the Soviet Union, with its consequent implications for hundreds of millions in the free world.

    The Holodomor in Ukraine is too often mistakenly grouped together in the West with the generic Soviet collectivization of agriculture. While collectivization was extant throughout the Soviet Union, it was distinct in purpose and result in Ukraine. There, wrote Proletarska Pravda in 1930, collectivization was intended “to destroy the social basis of Ukrainian nationalism.” Indeed, though collectivization in Ukraine was virtually complete by the spring of 1932, Moscow pressed on. Having eliminated Ukraine’s political, cultural, and religious strata, Stalin turned against the villages. It was there that Ukrainian traditions and self-awareness were rooted, and where the overwhelming majority of the population resided. The task, wrote historian Norman Davies, was to forever inter any notion of independence. The countryside was stripped not simply of grain but of anything remotely edible. Cooking utensils and farming tools were confiscated. The borders were sealed, and no food was allowed in. No one was allowed out. And not just in Ukraine, but also in the heavily Ukrainian ethnographic regions absorbed by neighboring Russia. Entire villages simply disappeared. A year later, one of Stalin’s sycophants, Pavel Postyshev boasted: “We have annihilated the nationalist counter-revolution during the past year, we have exposed and destroyed nationalist deviationism.”

    Estimates of the number of victims range from four to ten million. Italian diplomatic dispatches at the time concluded: “The current disaster will bring about a predominantly Russian colonization of Ukraine.” In 1953, Raphael Lemkin, author of the UN Genocide Convention, passionately condemned not just the murder of millions but also the evisceration of Ukraine’s national ethos. “This is not simply a case of mass murder. It is a case of genocide, of destruction, not of individuals only, but of a culture and a nation.” But it was not until the eve of their independence in 1991 that Ukrainians even dared to whisper about the Holodomor among themselves.

    Some news about the Holodomor was carried in the Western press. Paris’s Le Matin wrote, “The systematically organized famine has as its objective the destruction of a nation, whose only crime is that it is striving for freedom.” Mainly, however, the news was spiked by Western media. The New York Times’ Moscow correspondent Walter Duranty, a Pulitzer Prize winner, categorically denied the horror. Washington knew the dirty secret: Duranty had earlier admitted to US Embassy personnel in Berlin that “in agreement with the New York Times and the Soviet authorities, his official dispatches always reflect the official opinion of the Soviet government and not his own.” Privately, however, to the British Embassy in Moscow Duranty confessed a “ghastly horror,” and that Ukraine “has been bled white.”

    Western governments had their own calculus. The British Foreign Office wrote: “We do not want to make [information about the Holodomor] public...because the Soviet Government would resent it and our relationship with them would be prejudiced. We cannot give this explanation in public.” After taking a Potemkin village tour of the starving Ukrainian countryside, former French Prime Minister Herriot returned to France and ridiculed the notion of any starvation.

    Western betrayal of Ukraine soon became official. On November 16, 1933, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized the Soviet Union. Legitimacy, approval, and acceptance were stamped on a netherworld dedicated to the destruction of Roosevelt’s own country. American and Soviet celebrants dined on caviar and beef stroganoff at the Waldorf Astoria as Ukraine became one vast necropolis. One might say that at that moment, a great and noble nation bartered away its moral clarity.

    Twelve years later, outside the court windows in Nuremberg in post-war Europe, the United States and United Kingdom, overseen by the Soviet Union’s secret police, “repatriated” scores of Holodomor survivors and others back to that same netherworld. That was the second betrayal, inked in Yalta.

    Fast forward to 1991. Despite President George H.W. Bush’s efforts to discourage Ukraine from withdrawing from the Soviet Union, the nation voted for independence, catalyzing the dissolution of the USSR. Shortly after, however, Moscow became the beneficiary of a third deal: Ukraine surrendered its nuclear arsenal in return for US, UK, and Russian commitments to its national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

    In 2004, the Ukrainian community in the United States warned National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s game plan: that there would be only one player. Washington remained somnolent, and in 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine, occupying and annexing its territory. With scarcely a whimper from the West, Putin savaged the world order overnight.

    This year as never before, Holodomor Remembrance Day requires more than the commemoration of innocents. It requires that, at long last, Washington take an accurate measure of the Kremlin. Even more so, it must reassess its own impulse toward deal making, something that long predates the election of the new US president-elect. That approach did not establish a laudable record. If Ukraine is not secured as a counterweight of freedom and stability, any "deal" will condemn the West to a dangerous past.

    Victor Rud is a board member of the Ukrainian American Bar Association and chairman of its Committee on Foreign Affairs.
       

  • 30 Sep 2016 10:55 AM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Danylo M. Kurdelchuk (1944 – 2016)

     

     

     

     

     It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of
    our associate member, colleague, and friend.

     Danylo M. Kurdelchuk

    who departed this life in the morning hours of
    September 30, 2016 in Kyiv, Ukraine,
    after a long illness.

    The Ukrainian American Bar Association expresses its deepest condolences
    to his son, Ihor, to Danylo's entire family, to his colleagues at Ukriniurkolegia,
    and to all of his friends around the world.

    ETERNAL MEMORY

      ВІЧНАЯ ПАМЯТЬ

    The Officers and Governors of the
     Ukrainian American Bar Association

     

     

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