Expert: US play key role in shaping international community’s position on Ukraine, and thus, lobbying for Ukrainian interests should be a priority for Ukrainian diplomats


Kyiv, December 14, 2015. The prime objective for Ukrainian diplomats, both the official representatives of the state and representatives of the civil society should be conveying the objective and detailed information about the situation in the country and lobbying for Ukraine’s interests when dealing with key actors (politicians, experts, opinion leaders) of the international community. The priority of such work should be the United States, because it has been this country which has provided about 80% support to Ukraine internationally. “America’s support is important, it cannot be ignored. The USA play a decisive role even in the EU policy, Minsk memorandum and pressure on Russia; the greater is the pressure, the better it is for us,” said Mykola Vorobiev, Director of the Center for Eastern European Perspectives in Washington, at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

Representatives of the Ukrainian Diaspora, sympathizers, lobby groups, research institutes and other organizations are involved in political lobbying  for Ukraine’s interests and in forming public opinion on events in Ukraine. They are trying to explain the peculiarities of the situation in Ukraine voluntarily, on their own initiative. “Research centers play a key role in decision-making in the USA. Such organizations as the Heritage Foundation, Wilson Center, Brookings Institute and  Atlantic Council are carrying out much work on Ukraine, and their advice is crucial,” said Mr. Vorobiev. Besides, much work has been done by a number of assistants of Congress senators. At the same time, said Mykola Vorobiev,  Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and the state in general are not doing everything they can to strengthen the presence of Ukrainian lobby in the United States. “The military aid to Ukraine provided for in the US budget for 2016 which amounts to 300 million USD, allows a conclusion that this presence is insufficient. It is a good amount. This is a message to the international community, but this support is insufficient,” said the expert, noting that it is about the monthly budget expenditure to support Iran in the war against ISIL.

At the information front, in contrast to the political and scientific fronts, the current situation is not entirely in favor of Ukraine. Besides, recently both diplomats and society shifted their main attention to Syria, and “when in April 2015, Ukraine was in the top 4 topics regarding international policy of the US, unfortunately, over the last six months, it has not got even the top – 10”, said Mr. Vorobiev. In this situation, Ukraine faces two main challenges. “A priori, the Western media are on Ukraine’s side. Our task is to give them correct information without any distortions,” said Mykola Vorobiev. He noted that even if the best experts from leading publications come to Ukraine to highlight a certain problem, they cannot physically sort out the situation within a few days as can those who know it on the “inside”. So, for them it would be useful to provide structured pieces of information from Ukrainian sources, the objectivity of which will not cause doubts. Second, Ukraine needs organizations that “will serve as an informal bridge between the USA, Ukraine and Eastern Europe.” The presentations held by the Center at some academic and government agencies revealed that “80% of the information on the Maidan, ATO area and fighting corruption was really news to Americans, even to those closely involved in Ukrainian issues.” Besides, said Mykola Vorobiev, American politicians and researchers are most interested in the opinion of ​​the third sector – public figures and journalists, “neutral people”. Since they do not represent political groups or business clans, Americans trust them most. In parallel, work with the Ukrainian public should be continued. All features of decision making in American politics should be explained to the public.