Fw: VPotus Pool Report #3

From: Baker, Peter [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Monday, December 07, 2015 05:18 PM
To: Goodman, Meghan K. EOP/OVP
Subject: VPotus Pool Report #3

VPotus Pool Report #3

Kyiv, Ukraine

Dec. 7, 2015

The meeting between VPotus and President Poroshenko went long and they appeared for their statements to the media about an hour after scheduled.

In his remarks, VPotus announced $190 million more in aid to Ukraine, bringing the total American assistance in the last couple years to $760 million. He reaffirmed American support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. And he called on Ukrainian leaders to live up to their commitments to reform their government, particularly the law and justice sectors.

Some quotes from VPotus:

“A lot of hard work remains, including reform of Ukraine’s law and justice sectors. But the payoff, the payoff will be worth it, it will be genuinely worth it for Ukraine and all the Ukrainian people.”

“Ukraine is taking important steps in the right direction. The president, the government, the Rada, they’ve all worked hard and today President Poroshenko and I spent a lot of time talking about how Ukraine must keep pushing ahead to realize the dreams of those who stood for months on the Maidan.”

“The Ukrainian people cannot once again have their hopes dashed based on corruption. The Orange Revolution occurred and hopes were extremely high. Here we are thanks to the sacrifices made two years ago.

“One more chance. One more chance. It’s absolutely critical for Ukraine in order to be stable and prosperous and part of a secure Europe to definitely, thoroughly completely root out the cancer of corruption. The people need to see that the ways of the past are permanently gone, they no longer exist. That means hard decisions. That means ramping up the pace of reforms, avoidance of past practices, advancing good governance, increasing transparency across the board at every level of the government and strengthening the rule of law. It means everybody playing by the same rules, from the folks at the bottom to the folks at the very top.”

“There is no democracy in the world that is a true democracy that does not have a strong civil society. One cannot exist without the other.”

“The United States stands firmly with the people of Ukraine in the face of continued – and I emphasize continued – aggression from Russia and Russian-backed separatists. We continue to believe that the best way to end the conflict in Donbas is through a diplomatic framework that was laid out in the Minsk agreement. But both sides, both sides, need to hold up that bargain. Minsk cannot succeed if Russia does not fulfill its commitment and President Putin fails to live up to the promises he has repeatedly made to my president, to you and to the international community.”

In several conversations lately, “President Obama has conveyed that message directly to President Putin.”

“The fact that we are not talking as much every single day about Crimea does not mean in any way we have forgotten that the illegal invasion – and it’s an invasion – by Russia of Crimea will not be accepted by us or the international community. This attempted annexation is contrary to international law, is wrong and we will not accept it under any circumstance. And Moscow eventually has to end its occupation of Ukraine’s sovereign territory. Crimea is still sovereign territory of Ukraine.”

He noted that while this is his fourth visit to Ukraine in the last two years, he has probably logged “close to 1,000 hours” on the phone with Poroshenko. “I think I tend to have more direct conversation for longer periods of time with the president than with my wife,” he joked. “I think they both regret that.”

Poroshenko, who spoke first, said that violence has diminished in the east but Russia is still not fulfilling its commitment under Minsk. He also affirmed his commitment to reforms. Some quotes:

“Today happily we have had a significant reduction in shelling.” But “unfortunately the war is still raging. Today we had more 14 cases of mortar shelling. Eight Ukrainian service members were wounded over the last 24 hours.”

“Russia is systematically violating the ceasefire.”

He said the government has made progress in reforms including the selection of “an anticorruption prosecutor.”

“I’m sure that we have to make use of these very good starting conditions along with the create of a transparent anti corruption bureau in order to demonstrate real achievements.”

“There is no doubt that another good example of reforms is the creation of the national police.”

Neither he nor VPotus directly addressed the worry about America and the West sacrificing Ukraine in the interest of working with Russia in Syria, although that was the clear subtext. Poroshenko did profess Ukraine’s readiness to provide “maximum support to coalition forces in Syria,” although he did not elaborate on what that meant.

VPotus left the administration building at 4:20 p.m. and is now back at his hotel until tonight’s meeting with Prime Minister Yatsenyuk.

Peter Baker

NY Times

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