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“This will be an unusual visit”

Experts discuss their expectations for the president of Ukraine’s participation in the General Assembly and his meeting with the resident of the White House
19 September, 2017 - 11:37
Photo by Mykhailo PALINCHAK

Yesterday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko began a three-day working visit to the US to attend the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly. According to the press service of the Ukrainian head of state, Poroshenko will deliver a speech during the general debate of the UN General Assembly, take part in the UN Security Council summit on peacekeeping issues and high-level events on UN reform issues, as well as on preventing the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes.

“The issue of the release of Ukrainian hostages and political prisoners will be one of the key ones during my visit to the US for the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly,” the head of state posted on Facebook.

On the margins of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, the Ukrainian head of state will hold a series of bilateral meetings with world leaders, including the US President. As usual, Poroshenko will meet with leaders of the Ukrainian community in the US, representatives of Crimean Tatar organizations, and leading figures from American political science and business circles, the press service said.

The Day asked American and Ukrainian experts to tell us about the expectations in Ukraine and the US for the participation of President Poroshenko in the abovementioned events at the UN General Assembly and his meeting with US President Donald Trump.


John HERBST, Director, Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, Atlantic Council; ex-US ambassador to Ukraine, Washington, D.C.:

“There are some expectations that President Poroshenko may seek to raise the issue of Moscow’s aggression at the General Assembly. That may be why Putin offered his idea on UN peacekeepers. I would expect at most a brief meeting between presidents Poroshenko and Trump since the two met in June. The most likely topic would be the war and US support for Ukraine.

“Regarding the possibility to deploy peacekeepers on occupied territories of Ukraine, peacekeepers fully empowered to enforce a ceasefire and to ensure the removal of Russian troops and the heavy weapons of both sides from the war zone would help secure a just peace. It is far from clear that this is what President Putin has in mind.

“As for Russian senator Pushkov’s statement that Volker mission may ‘finish ingloriously,’ this is an indication that there are some doubts about Ambassador Volker in Moscow.”


Oleksandr TSVIETKOV, Americanologist, professor, Hrinchenko University of Kyiv:

“It seems that this will be an unusual visit by our president for the 72nd session of the General Assembly. It will be unusual because in most cases, the beginning of a session is considered as an opportunity to communicate with leaders from different countries and bring some proactive stance to the debate. Ukraine is in an unusual situation now, we have a critical situation with the war raging in our east, and we must not forget about the annexation of Crimea.

“In my opinion, the importance of this trip comes from two elements: the speech itself to be delivered at the General Assembly and the meetings with leaders of different countries. Of course, in the latter case, the planned meeting with US President Trump is attracting much attention.

“It is already known that the American president will, among other things, most likely raise the issue of not so much the UN reform, but rather improving that body’s efficiency. His speech will include topics such as peace, prosperity and sovereignty. All three of these slogans are extremely relevant for Ukraine: peace and ultimately internal reforms in order to jumpstart economic development, and most importantly, to ensure sovereignty.

“The speech of our president will, most likely, emphasize the topic of aggression and the need to comply with international law. Violations of international law should bring response from the international community, and the General Assembly is the largest forum where this topic can be addressed. Also, the subject of hostages will be addressed as well.

“The speech should make people better informed about the situation in Ukraine and promote wider support of Ukraine’s efforts to find peace in the east and ensure our sovereignty.

“Other topics and meetings may see the question of more active cooperation with foreign countries being raised. That is, we need to convince the world that our business climate will markedly improve, that Ukraine will become attractive for cooperation. The tighter the schedule of such meetings and their effectiveness, the better for Ukraine.

“Most importantly, we need to find new channels of cooperation between America and Ukraine in terms of resolving the conflict situation, securing peace in the east, and recovering Crimea.”

Richard WEITZ, senior fellow and director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis at Hudson Institute in Washington, DC, expert at Wikistrat, and senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS):

“When meeting, Trump and Poroshenko will discuss US assistance in domestic reforms, US security assistance, the Volker and Minsk processes, and US help for the Ukrainian reform process. The administration is considering a spending package to send arms and support to Ukraine. Trump may be especially interested in Ukraine’s economic reforms and contributions to US security missions in Afghanistan and other regions.

“Regarding the deployment of peacekeepers in Donbas, both Poroshenko and Putin will likely raise the issue before the UNGA, but their conditions will probably differ, such as how extensive a geographic area should be covered by the mission. The United States may provide financial support for this mission but no troops.

“Russian Senator Pushkov may be making these statements to prompt further US concessions regarding Ukraine, especially regarding the proposed peacekeeping mission.”

By Mykola SIRUK, The Day; Natalia PUSHKARUK