Fw: VPotus Pool Report #4

From: Baker, Peter [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Monday, December 07, 2015 07:44 PM
To: Goodman, Meghan K. EOP/OVP
Cc: Peter Baker
Subject: VPotus Pool Report #4

VPotus Pool Report # 4

Kyiv, Ukraine

Dec. 7, 2015

VPotus left the hotel about 7:10 pm for his meeting with PM Yatsenyuk at the Cabinet of Ministers Club. Pool is now holding until statements. At the bottom of this report you’ll find a list of participants and background on the building.

Prior to leaving, senior officials backgrounded on the trip. Quick highlights:

The $190 million in aid is new, from State budget, and focused on programs supporting law enforcement, judicial and democratic reforms but it is not money that goes into the Kyiv budget. It is not part of the $300 million that Congress has approved for military assistance.

VPotus and Poroshenko met for about an hour and then had a working lunch for about 90 minutes. The overall message, said one official is “don’t squander this opportunity.” Rather than the West being distracted by Syria, it is Russia that is distracted and so the Ukrainians have a chance to make good on reforms that will go a long way toward ensuring their long-term success, the officials said. But VPotus warned Poroshenko that “There’s a growing degree of popular frustration about the slow pace of the reforms and the efforts to root out corruption.”

The officials noted that the Ukrainians have taken some important steps and particularly cited moves toward taking Naftogaz, the state-owned oil and gas company, out of political control and putting it under an independent board of supervisors. And they said Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk appear close to agreement on a budget and tax package that would be a good step toward unity and reassuring the IMF.

The officials downplayed the idea of new elections, suggesting instead that any “refreshing” of the government be done under the current constitution. They also said VPotus made clear that “nothing that happens in Syria has changed one iota” American support for Ukraine in terms of Russia, as one of the officials put it. “We haven’t taken our eye off the ball and we’re very focused on Ukraine,” the official added.

Also, VPotus met privately with American trainers from the 173rd Airborne Division who are here and separately with a couple Special Operations Forces troops from Fort Carson, Colorado.

This is VPotus’s fourth trip to Ukraine since the crisis began two years ago and his fifth while in office. With about a year to go, he is focused on what he can do with his remaining time. “He wants to go out to do trips that are impactful,” said one official. Among his interests they cited are Eastern Europe, Central America, Turkey, Iraq and energy and corruption across the board. He’s been involved in Northern Ireland and Cyprus. “He doesn’t want busy work,” the same official said. “He wants to go where the president believes he can play a really critical role and where he can get some business done.”

From OVP:

Bilateral meeting Participants:

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. Amos Hochstein, Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, Department of State

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

-T.H. Elissa Slotkin, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs

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

-T.H. Kate Bedingfield, Director of Communications to the Vice President

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

Ukraine

-H.E. Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Prime Minister of Ukraine

-H.E. Natalie Jaresko, Minister of Finance of Ukraine

-H.E. Pavlo Petrenko, Minister of Justice of Ukraine

-H.E. Arsen Avakov, Minister of Interior of Ukraine

-H.E. Eka Zguladze, Deputy Minister of Interior of Ukraine

-Ms. Khatia Dekanoidze, Head of National Police

-Mr. Andrij Kobolyev, Chairman of Naftogaz

-Mr. Danylo Lubkivskyi, Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ukraine

-Ms. Iryna Bochar, Assistant to the Prime Minister of Ukraine

Cabinet of Minister's Club

Designed by Oleksandr Shille and built as the Kyiv Exchange from 1870-1873, the Exchange was a venue for merchants, industralists, and landowners to negotiate and sign commercial agreements. In 1882, the Exchange moved to new premises and this building became Kyiv’s Land Bank. During the Soviet period, it belonged to the Ukrainian SSR Ministry Council, and after independence became the “club” of Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers. The building has been added to and renovated several times, particularly after suffering heavy damage during the Second World War. Its facade is neo-Baroque.

Source: U.S. Embassy Kyiv

Peter Baker

NY Times

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