U.S.-Ukraine Relations in the New Security Environment
Dubovyk focused his presentation on the analysis of the current state of U.S.-Ukraine relations and offered a prognosis on the immediate future. He explained that those analysts who view the recent relationship as a success story are surprised to hear reports that the U.S.-Ukraine relationship is deteriorating. Others believe that nothing has been achieved in bilateral relations since 1991.
Dubovyk disagreed with both of these statements, and pointed out some specific successes that have taken place, including military cooperation, the activities of the Kuchma-Gore Bilateral Commission, collaboration in space research, and the proclamation of a "strategic partnership" between the two countries.
According to Dubovyk, the period of negativism during early 1990s, which was caused by the notorious "nuclear issue," appears now to be over. However, the current crisis between Kyiv and Washington brought about by Ukraine's alleged sales of "Kolchuga" radar system to Iraq have contributed to a lack of trust on Washington's part. He noted that the United States has been increasingly critical of Kyiv's behavior on several occasions in the recent years.
Dubovyk stated that the new security environment has also influenced U.S.-Ukrainian relations. According to his analysis, events like "September 11th, 2001, the ongoing American war against terrorism, the current cooperative state of U.S.-Russian relations, and EU/NATO enlargement," have dramatically changed the views on security in Washington and Kyiv. Dubovyk contended that it is important to view U.S.-Ukraine relations through the prism of the war on terrorism, and Ukraine should make its contribution in this war, which could be helpful for bilateral relations.
According to Dubovyk, the U.S. view on Ukraine remains varied. Some analysts view Ukraine as a very important strategic component of European security. Others attribute importance to Ukraine because of its role in relations with Russia. Finally, Dubovyk noted, many analysts would argue that Ukraine is not that important and don't value its independence. Dubovyk said while Ukraine's image is certainly damaged by recent allegations of presidential misconduct, the situation is not tragic and the country's reputation could be improved in the years to come.
Dubovyk offered three scenarios regarding the Bush administration's policies toward Ukraine. The first or a "negative passive" approach might consist of a distancing from Kyiv, or a freezing of bilateral relations, combined with waiting for the 2004 Ukrainian presidential elections. The second or a "negative active" approach might consist of a series of U.S. sanctions against Kyiv. Dubovyk stated that the final solution, which would also be the most complex, would be to implement a "balanced engagement." This type of policy would include limited dealing with the current regime in Kyiv, while reaching out to help pro-democracy forces and organizations in Ukraine.
Dubovyk concluded by saying that he remains doubtful that real progress can be made in the relations between the U.S. and Ukraine because it appears that the current U.S. administration has little interest towards Ukraine. Due to this lack of interest, it also appears unlikely that the United States will be willing to allocate resources to implement increased engagement between the two sides.