Fw: VPotus Pool Report #1

From: Baker, Peter [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Tuesday, December 08, 2015 01:01 PM
To: Goodman, Meghan K. EOP/OVP
Cc: Peter Baker
Subject: VPotus Pool Report #1

VPotus Pool Report #1

Kyiv, Ukraine

Dec. 8, 2015

VPotus left the hotel at 11:35 am, about a half hour after his speech to the Rada was scheduled to start. His motorcade raced through the city on a bright, sunny if chilly day and passed scores of protesters outside the Rada, some holding signs that said "Biden Help" or "Biden SOS." It was not clear what specific help they were seeking.

VPotus entered the grand chamber of the Rada to applause and shook hands with President Poroshenko. Prime Minister Yatsenyuk was also present. VPotus spoke from the main dais with teleprompters. On the lectern was a poster with the face of Nadiya Savchenko, the Ukrainian helicopter pilot being held in Russia. “Freedom for Nadia Savchenko,” the poster said in Ukrainian.

VPotus spoke for about a half hour, repeating the themes of his meetings yesterday, urging Ukrainian lawmakers to tackle corruption and warning that the future of the country is at stake. As he did yesterday, he said Ukraine has a second chance to meet the hopes that were dashed after the Orange Revolution of 2004. Citing John Adams, Thomas Paine, Edmund Burke and Daniel Webster, VPotus talked about the need to build democracy. He reassured them of American support against the Kremlin and condemned Russian violations of the Minsk ceasefire. He said he would tell the world about Nadiya Savchenko. At the end, pushing again for reform, he cited a quote from an American politician he did not identify, “In your heart, you know it’s right,” he said. (The quote, of course, actually is a variation from the slogan of an ad made for Barry Goldwater in 1964.)

It was a classic Biden performance – at times he was shouting at them, gesturing sharply, at others he was whispering, at still other moments he wagged his finger. The lawmakers, many listening to translation through earphones, sat silent during the long lecture on corruption but applauded when VPotus assailed Russia for its actions. The one standing ovation they gave him was when he said the United States would never recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Here are some quotes:

“Nearly a decade later, that flame of hope was reignited by thousands of brave Ukrainians, some of you in this room, storming the Maidan, demanding a revolution of dignity. The world was transfixed. This time they were not going to be denied the future that so many in your country have longed for for so long. The world was horrified when peaceful patriots were met by violence.”

“I need not tell you this is a joint responsibility. The president, the prime minster, the members of this august body all of you must put aside parochial difference and make real the revolution of dignity.”

He recounted the birth of America and the founding fathers. “I believe the president, the prime minster, every member of this body now face a similar test of courage.”

“These are the times that try men’s souls. These are the times that try men’s souls. This is your moment. This is your responsibility. Each of you, if you’ll forgive me for speaking to you this way in your body, each of you has an obligation to seize the opportunity that the sacrifices made in the Maidan, the sacrifices of the Heavenly Hundred. Each of you has an obligation to answer the call of history and finally build a united, democratic Ukrainian nation that can stand the test of time.”

“If you fail, the experiment fails. It’s no exaggeration to say the hopes of freedom loving people the world over are with you.”

He said Russia had violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and the rules of nations. “These are the ground rules and if we fail to uphold them we will rue the day. Russia has violated these ground rules and continues to violate them. Today Russia’s occupying sovereign Ukrainian territory. Let me be crystal clear: the United States does not, has not, never will recognize Russia’s attempt to annex Crimea.” (This was greeted by a standing ovation.)

“There can be no sanctions relief unless and until Moscow meets all, all of its commitments under Minsk.” (applause)

“I don’t think the Russian people understand fully what Putin is doing. That’s why he spends so much time hiding at home the presence of troops here in your country.”

He specifically called for an overhaul of the office of prosecutor general, reform in the energy sector, transparency about official sources of income, disclose of conflicts between government responsibilities and business and other measures. “Oligarchs and non-oligarchs must play by the same rules. They have to pay their taxes, settle their differences in court, not by bribing judges. That’s basic.”

After the speech, VPotus met with the speaker and his team. Details below about the participants as well as history of the building.

Pool is now holding in vans for the motorcade to the airport.

From OVP:

Participants in meeting

United States

-Vice President Biden

-T.H. Geoffrey Pyatt, Ambassador of the US to Ukraine

-T.H. Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs

-T.H. Colin Kahl, Ph.D., National Security Advisor to the Vice President

-Dr. Charlie Kupchan, Senior Director for European Affairs, NSC

-Dr. Advisor for Europe and Eurasia to the Vice President Mike Carpenter, Special


-T.H Volodymyr Groysman, Chairman of the Rada

-Mr. Volodymyr Slyshynskyi, Acting Head and First Deputy Head of the Apparatus of the Rada

-Mr. Oleksandr Sayenko, Head of Secretariat of Chairman of the Rada

-Mr. Myroslav Koshelyuk, Advisor to Chairman of the Rada

-Mr. Yuriy Bodenchuk, Advisor to Chairman of the Rada

Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine

Built between 1936 and 1938 of granite and plaster in Stalinist neo-classical style, the building won architect Volodymyr Zabolotny the 1940 USSR State Prize and an appointment as Kyiv’s chief architect. It is topped with a large metal and glass dome that allows natural light into the legislature’s central meeting hall. During the Soviet period, the building housed the Ukrainian SSR’s legislature. Since Ukraine’s independence in 1991, it has housed the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament.

Source: U.S. Embassy Kyiv

Peter Baker

NY Times



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