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Ukrainian American Bar Association

UABA News Blog - In English

This UABA Blog page provides information and commentary on issues that are relevant to the organization and its members. Although the blogs are public, comments can only be made by members. If yoiu wish to join the discussion, you are welcome to become a member.

The comments expressed on these blogs represent the opinions of the authors and not that of the UABA.

  • 30 Sep 2019 4:01 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Seeking to merely “contain” Putin is not enough.  We have been outplayed, outsmarted and outmaneuvered in Europe, the Middle East, Venezuela, Africa and the Arctic. And at home. Point by point “cost imposing” measures against Russia have not worked. And simply repeating the pattern of reacting, deterring, responding, defending will not work.  Moscow–minimally as a beneficiary and perhaps more–emerges in seemingly Iran’s recent provocations in the Persian Gulf.  And now the possibility of a Presidential impeachment looms. We have anchored ourselves squarely at the confluence of dual domestic and international storms.

    Read More as posted on the Foreign Policy Association Web pages

  • 19 Sep 2019 4:38 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    September 12, 2019, in Toronto at the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact 80th Anniversary (“The Black Ribbon Day Conference”) at The University of Toronto.

    Video of Panel Discussion: Victor Rud, Chairman, UABA Committee on Foreign Affairs; at 35 min 20 seconds  click here to view   

    Gary Kasparov's talk transcript; Click here to read

  • 10 Sep 2019 10:15 AM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Amid Diplomatic Strain, House Opens Inquiry Into Trump’s Dealings With Ukraine

    WASHINGTON — The White House delayed a package of military assistance to the new government in Ukraine, and has yet to schedule a White House meeting for its new president. After abruptly pulling the previous American ambassador out of Kiev when conservatives questioned her political loyalty, President Trump has yet to nominate a successor.

    Behind the scenes, Mr. Trump has told aides that he sees Ukraine as corrupt and suggested that he harbored a grudge from what he saw as that nation’s support for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

    Read Article

  • 08 Sep 2019 8:56 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Victor Rud: Banquet du Congrès ukrainien canadien pour 28e anniversaire de l'indépendance de l'Ukraine.

    Click here to view video

    Святковий банкет організований Монреальською філією Конгресу Українців Канади на честь 28-ій річниці відновлення Незалежности України. Головний доповідач, пан Віктор Рудь, юрист з міжнародного права. Закінчив Гарвардський Коледж та Факультет Права при Університеті Дюк. Голова комітету закордонних справ Українсько-Американської Асоціації адвокатів. Статті надруковані в часописах Атлантик Кансол, Форбз, Київ Пост та інших.

    Banquet organisé par la section montréalaise du Congrès ukrainien canadien pour commémorer le 28e anniversaire de l'indépendance de l'Ukraine.

  • 08 Sep 2019 8:47 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Nazi – Soviet Pact 80
    Black Ribbon Day Conference

    September 12, 2019, 6pm

    Isabel Bader Theatre: 93 Charles St W, Toronto, ON M5S 2C7

    A discussion about the legacy of the Nazi-Soviet Pact signed by Hitler and Stalin on August 23, 1939, featuring a keynote address by Russian chess grandmaster and opposition leader, Garry Kasparov.

    Global Event Livestream of Event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LB8w-BO5WEI


    Victor Rud, Chairman, Committee on International Affairs & Foreign  Policy, Ukrainian American Bar Association.



  • 23 Aug 2019 10:29 AM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Greeting of the
    On the Occasion of the
    28th Anniversary of Ukraine's Independence

    With deepest respect and sincere pride, the Ukrainian American Bar Association salutes the Ukrainian people who continue to bravely demonstrate their gargantuan moral strength by shedding their blood and sacrificing their lives to forge a truly free, national, and democratic Ukrainian consciousness which is a God-given right of every nation. Despite the thunders of war, the Ukrainian people's resolve for freedom will be graced with true independence.
     Слава Україні! --- Героям Слава!

    Асоціації Українських Правників Америки
    З Нагоди
    28-ї Річниці Незалежності України

    З найглибшою повагою і щирою гордістю, Асоціація Українських Правників Америки вітає український народ, який продовжує мужньо демонструвати свою гігантську моральну силу, проливаючи свою кров і жертвуючи своїм життям, щоб викувати справді вільну, національну і демократичну українську свідомість, яка є дане Богом правом кожного народу. Незважаючи на громів війни, рішучість українського народу за свободу буде прикрашений справжньою незалежністю.
    Слава Україні! --- Героям Слава

  • 21 Aug 2019 10:38 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    The Provocation of “Sanctioning” Russia

    25 June 2018 – New York, US

    by Victor Rud

    Public focus on President Trump’s comments earlier this month about readmitting Russia to the G7 group of the most advanced democracies has somewhat dissipated in light of the ensuing North Korea summit. Now, even that has been overtaken by the controversy over immigration. But these were no off-the-cuff comments; they were made beforeduring and again after the G7 summit in Canada.  Make no mistake, however. “Sanctioning”– as in rewarding, not punishing– Russia would propel Putin ever more. It would be another entry in a catalog of Western fecklessness and would both materially and predictably degrade America’s global security posture.

    Memory is short.  President Truman wrote in his diary, “I’m not afraid of Russia.  They’ve always been our friends, and I don’t see why they shouldn’t always be . . . so let’s just get along.” Fifty-three years later, in 1998, President Clinton prevailed on the G7 to admit Russia. Admission rules were for naught, and the “can’t we just be friends” moment allowed Putin to leverage admission to the club into a hecatomb. Membership was the eau de cologne for Russia’s path of domestic tyranny and imperial imperative, as a self-assured Russia began to up-end the international order that the West had secured for generations and represented by the very G7. First, the Kremlin solidified its grip on its internal empire marketed as the “Russian Federation.” Putin walked to the Presidency of Russia on the bodies of hundreds of civilians, killed a year later in a string of apartment bombings in Russia, a false flag operation of the FSB seeking to pin it on the Chechens.  Following the resulting atrocities in Chechnya, we saw a roll call of domestic and international terrorism, invasions, occupations and annexations in Georgia and Ukraine, use of women and children as human shields, assassinations, castration of prisoners, carpet bombing, the destruction of Malaysia Flight 17. Putin’s contempt for the West played out as miniaturized nuclear (Polonium 230) and chemical (novichok) warfare in Big Ben’s front yard. And his hardly concealed hacking of our and European elections and infrastructure broadcast his disdain.

    Iranian President Rouhani, Russian President Putin and Turkish President Erdogan, 2017

    But it’s worse. Fully a year beforeRussia’s admission to the sanctum sanctorum of Western democracy, Putin’s ideologue, Alexander Dugin, together with General Nikolai Klokotov of the General Staff Academy, authored the Foundations of Geopolitics, Russia’s blueprint for assaulting the West.   I wrote earlierabout the battleplan–from Brexit, to the hacking of elections in Europe and the US, to the splitting of the Western Alliance, to the shattering of societal and political cohesion in Europe and the U.S.  Turkey was to be turned, Ukraine, as an independent and democratic counterweight to Russia, was to be erased, and Iran was to be the key to a Russian-Islamist alliance against America.  Russia 9, the West 0.

    Yet Washington turned a blind eye to the future. Why? Throughout history tyrants have clearly announced their intentions.  (Remember the little painter from Braunau?) But it’s no more complicated than their targeted victims simply not believing it all.  They expected, rather hoped, that the tyrant du jour “can’t be serious,” “it’s all just talk,” etc. Ultimately, however, the innocence of successive Administrations in the White House distills to an inability to assimilate who and what it is that we’re dealing with. Putin (as did his predecessors) functions in an entirely different solar system than do Western democracies and is only understood if we are prepared to “believe the unbelievable” or to “accept the unacceptable“.  Otherwise, he and Russia’s pedigree and continuing trajectory as a predator state are unfathomable by any Western parameter.

    The opposite, however, is not true and in this regard some of our Russian experts, with all due respect, are simply wrong. Thus, for example, Fiona Hill, formerly with the Brookings Institution and now with the National Security Council in the White House, wrote in her book about Putin that he is “unable to understand the mindset of Americans and Europeans and their political dynamics.” Somehow, he has managed rather well.

    Our ineffectiveness is partially rooted in Calvin Coolidge’s dictum, “the business of America is business”. We are hard wired to graft our domestic commercial/cultural experience onto dealing with Russia. We are driven by a mercantile instinct for “stability” and “management.” And that means “negotiation” looking toward “agreement.” At a conference last year I said, “[T]he one exception to our trying to superimpose our commercial heritage in dealing with Russia is that we tolerate and encourage the very kind of behavior that we would never tolerate in a business setting–endless breaches of agreements by the other side of the table. And the only exception to our lack of predictive capacity is that we have a superb predictive capacity concerning Moscow’s breach of the very next agreement. Inexplicably, we simply ignore the breaches, always coming back for more.” It’s Pavlovian.

    Russia jack booted the very international order that is based on precisely a complex of these very “agreements”.  (It’s encouraging to know that in his interview with Oliver Stone in The Putin Interviews, 2017, Putin said, “We have to stick to certain rules. Otherwise international relations cannot be built.”) But it was not unilateral.  Western flaccid response ensured the implosion. Russia’s war against Ukraine and occupation and annexation of its territory is now in its fifth year.  That was the very reason for ejecting Russia from the G8.  Yet Russian aggression has grown in scope, brazenness, and consequence to us. Western pusillanimity in Ukraine led to Syria led to the Potomac. We see the fallout in China and North Korea.  It will get worse.

    And so, we have this: (1) we were warned twenty years ago of Russia’s impending assault on the international order and the US specifically; (2) we ignored the warning and tried to “make nice,” (3) we were unable to prevent that assault; and (4) we have been casting about for years, ruminating how to react, defend, respond.  It doesn’t occur to us to conceive a policy that would place Russia on the defensive, compelling it to turn inward.

    But what about the White House now having provided, albeit in limited scope, defensive weaponry for Ukraine, or having bolstered our military presence in Eastern Europe and the Baltics?  Laudatory as they are, these measures are years late, are defensive and accordingly limited in scope and purpose, and therefore necessarily surrender the status quo to a war criminal on the other side of the line.  Admitting Russia to the G7 in the first place helped fuel the resulting disaster now requiring precisely those defensive measures. This time, however, with its established record Russia’s readmission to the G7 would be a felony, making us knowing and intentional aiders and abettors of Russia’s international marauding. We can then provide even more military aid . . .  though perhaps not, because we will need it ourselves.

    And what of President Trump’s explanation, five days after his initial comment about Russia’s readmission? “If Vladimir Putin were sitting next to me today . . . I could say, ‘would you do me a favor? Would you get out of Syria? Would you do me a favor, would you get out of the Ukraine. . . .’ If he were at that meeting, I could ask him to do things that are good for the world, that are good for our country, that are good for him.”  This is hardly convincing. (1) Admission to the G7 is not necessary for talking. (2) Merely talking is not only not enough; it has been counterproductive. We’ve been talking with furrowed brow and faux angst for 18 years–and what exactly have been the results? (3) Do we seriously believe that  Putin will defer to our judgement as to what is good for him?

    Predictability in international relations has no price. Readmission to the G7 would cement Putin’s understanding of our “mindset and political dynamics,” regardless of the political party at the helm.  That understanding is clear and correct–we exhibit no consistency, constancy or direction, whether grounded in principle, logic, morality, or strategic self-interest. Each Western overture, each reset, each excuse, each encomium, each soccer match is an accelerant propelling Putin in his self-assurance. Readmission would accomplish that immeasurably. Our temporizing will have become permanent. Despite the otherwise obsequiousness of especially Germany and France, for now on this issue the G5 (sansItaly) stand firm. We can do no less.


    Feature Photo – Putin chairs the Presidential Council for Strategic Development and Priority Projects, 2017 – Kremlin.ru, 2018

    Inset photo – Rouhani, Putin and Erdogan, 2017 – Wikimedia Commons, 2018

    DefenceReport’s weekly recap is a multi-format blog that features opinions and insights from DefRep editorial staff and guest writers. The opinions expressed here are the author’s own and are separate from DefRep reports and analysis, which are based on independent and objective reporting.


    Victor Rud

    Victor Rud is a former chairman of the Ukrainian American Bar Association, and is the current chairman of its Committee on Foreign Affairs.

    Mr. Rud has more than thirty-five years experience as an international attorney. Before Ukrainian independence, he was co-counsel, in the West, for members of the Ukrainian Helsinki Accords Watch Group, and for other dissidents in Ukraine. He was also counsel to the US Public Member to the Helsinki Accords Review Conference in Madrid. He has written, and spoken before various audiences, on issues in US/Russian relations. Mr.Rud is an honors graduate of Harvard College and Duke Law School

  • 19 Aug 2019 8:34 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Legal Challenges for President Zelensky

    July 24, 2019

     Judge Bohdan A. Futey

                The Rule of Law is vital to the advancement of democracy worldwide, which, in turn, will help provide for a more prosperous economic environment. Article 8 of Ukraine’s Constitution enshrines a commitment to the Rule of Law, stating that “the principle of rule of law is recognized and effective.” The essential characteristics of the Rule of Law include:

    • ·       The supremacy of law. This means that all persons, including government officials, are subject to the law.
    • ·       A justice system with key safeguards, including interpersonal adjudication, law based on standards, and robust procedures.
    • ·       Preservation of individual liberties.
    • ·       A political system based on separation of powers, including an independent judiciary.

    On April 21, 2019, Volodymyr Zelensky was elected President of Ukraine by an impressive majority. The election was recognized by all international observers as being democratic, transparent, and meeting all international standards. The election will hopefully serve as a model for other countries in the region. Now, President Zelensky and his advisers are discussing legal changes and amendments, including the possibility of referenda. As this discussion moves forward, it is particularly important that the Rule of Law prevail and Ukraine’s commitment to it not waiver.

    For some, President Zelensky’s comments have raised concerns that his advisers may circumvent the current laws to adopt new laws or amend the constitution by referendum. If the President proposes changes, and Parliament and the people agree, such changes should be legal so long as their implementation follows the requirements outlined in the Constitution.

    Any suggestion by the President or his advisers that he is willing to bypass Parliament, however, would be troubling. The implementation of any amendment to the Constitution clearly requires parliamentary approval. In the past, some have argued that Article 5 of the Constitution places the power to amend the Constitution solely in the hands of the people; however, when Parliament approved the Constitution on June 28, 1996, the people delegated that power to elected officials when they adopted a process for amendment.

    The amendment process is set forth in Chapter XIII of the Constitution. Draft amendments pertaining to general principles of government, elections, and the amendment process must be submitted to the Constitutional Court to ensure compliance with Articles 154 through 159 of the Constitution. All amendments must be approved first by a majority of Parliament and, if successful, then by two-thirds of Parliament at the next session. In some instances, pursuant to Article 156, the President is additionally required to submit proposed changes for approval by a national referendum.

    It is imperative that any proposed amendments comply with these legal requirements. The restrictions set forth in the Constitution ensure that the Executive does not exert unchecked authority. When a President proposes bypassing parliamentary approval, the Rule of Law must prevail, because commitment to the Rule of Law is critical to the promotion of democracy and the realization of its promise.

    This is not the first time that discussion has taken place on bypassing legal requirements in Ukraine. Attempts were made under Presidents Yushchenko and Yanukovych. Under President Poroshenko, however, the Judiciary, including the Constitutional Court, was successfully reformed. Now, individuals have the right to challenge the constitutionality of laws. The law “On the Judiciary and the Status of Judges” became effective as of September 2016. In 2018, Parliament adopted a law providing for an Anti-Corruption Court. All amendments and changes were adopted in accordance with the Constitution of Ukraine. This provides an example of the proper path to amend the Constitution.

    Elections for members of the new Parliament were held on Sunday, July 21, 2019. The assessment by international observers was that the elections met international standards for free and fair elections that accurately reflect the will of the electorate. The minor infractions that were noted did not impact the results. Four hundred twenty-four deputies were elected, one half by political party lists and the other half by majoritarian districts. This reflects a reduction of twenty-six deputies. Elections were not conducted in Crimea as a result of the illegal annexation by Russia and in certain districts of Donbass and Luhansk because of hostilities there. To be elected to Parliament, a political party must obtain a five-percent entry threshold. Five parties met that standard. President Zelensky’s party, “Servant of the People,” received the largest percentage, 43.12%. The work of deputies dealing with reforms will commence immediately. It is imperative that their work be carried out in accordance with the Constitution and laws of the country.

    The transition from a command system to a system based on the Rule of Law is not easy, but the recent events throughout Ukraine and the people’s revolutionary expression at the Maidan during the Revolution of Dignity, hopefully, will be an irrevocable incentive and mandate for the implementation of reforms as the country is watchful over its independence and territorial integrity and moves forward to integrate with the European Union. Now that the new Parliament has been elected and President Zelensky is in office, it is important that both adhere to these principles.

    [Bohdan A. Futey is a Judge on the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., appointed by President Ronald Reagan in May 1987. Judge Futey has been active in various Rule of Law and Democratization Programs in Ukraine since 1991. He served as an adviser to the Working Group on Ukraine’s Constitution, adopted June 28, 1996. Judge Futey is a professor at the Ukrainian Free University in Munich, Germany and a visiting professor at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Kyiv, Ukraine. In March 2015, he was appointed by the President of Ukraine to serve as a consultant on the Constitution Commission.]

    This article was published in the Ukrainian Weekly. (August 11, 2019)

  • 25 Apr 2019 12:21 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    B. Vitvitsky: Letter to NY Times RE: Ukraine’s Newly Elected President Is Jewish. So Is Its Prime Minister. Not All Jews There Are Pleased.

    Dr. V | Summit, NJ
    Mr. Higgins, if you're going to dip your toe into history then you might be well served to learn a bit more about it than some Cliff notes version you may have read. Ukrainian nationalist organizations did indeed cooperate with the Germans at the very outset of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union and in some sporadic instances after that. But soon after the German invasion the leader of the main nationalist organization, Stepan Bandera, and his associates were interned in Sachsenhausen because the Ukrainian nationalists had tried to proclaim an independent Ukrainian state, which the Germans did not appreciate. It is also noteworthy that Bandera's two brothers were incarcerated and died in Auschwitz. For most of the duration of the war, the Ukrainian nationalist underground fought both the Nazis and the Soviets. Of course, we ourselves were in league with the Soviets during WW II, towards whom our position changed rather dramatically soon thereafter.


  • 23 Apr 2019 4:04 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    V. Rud: Op-Ed: Unreality in Thinking about the Unthinkable


    Op-Ed: Unreality in Thinking about the Unthinkable - Foreign Policy Blogs

    In a recent Wall Street Journal article, George Schultz, William Perry and Sam Nunn argued for “a world without nuclear weapons, [as] dangers…

    Read More

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