Clinton headed to Ukraine to reassure allies on U.S.-Russia ‘reset’

Secretary Clinton flies to Ukraine this morning, after paying her respects to the family of late Sen. Robert Byrd. While in the former Soviet republic, she’ll work to reassure the country’s leaders regarding their concerns over the "reset" in U.S.-Russia relations. At least, that’s how Agence France-Presse put it today. On the other hand, Assistant ...

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

Secretary Clinton flies to Ukraine this morning, after paying her respects to the family of late Sen. Robert Byrd. While in the former Soviet republic, she'll work to reassure the country's leaders regarding their concerns over the "reset" in U.S.-Russia relations.

At least, that's how Agence France-Presse put it today. On the other hand, Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon said otherwise at June 29's special briefing on Clinton's travel:

I wouldn't see it [reassurance] as the purpose of the trip. We don't think … that anybody should have any concerns about the new and better relationship with Russia.… But to the extent that anyone has concerns about our Russia policy, we're happy to discuss them and … it will be a good opportunity for the secretary to explain how we're thinking about the reset, how we're thinking about European security, regional security.  

Secretary Clinton flies to Ukraine this morning, after paying her respects to the family of late Sen. Robert Byrd. While in the former Soviet republic, she’ll work to reassure the country’s leaders regarding their concerns over the "reset" in U.S.-Russia relations.

At least, that’s how Agence France-Presse put it today. On the other hand, Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon said otherwise at June 29’s special briefing on Clinton’s travel:

I wouldn’t see it [reassurance] as the purpose of the trip. We don’t think … that anybody should have any concerns about the new and better relationship with Russia.… But to the extent that anyone has concerns about our Russia policy, we’re happy to discuss them and … it will be a good opportunity for the secretary to explain how we’re thinking about the reset, how we’re thinking about European security, regional security.  

Maybe reassurance isn’t the purpose of the trip and maybe nobody should be concerned about warmer U.S.-Russia ties (which don’t seem to have taken much of a hit from the spy-ring case), but the reality is that many people are indeed concerned and thus Clinton will probably be doing a lot of reassuring.

What else will Clinton be doing in Ukraine? Gordon said at the briefing that Clinton will be focusing on the U.S.-Ukraine "strategic partnership" and that she’ll be:

following up on President Obama’s meeting with President [Viktor] Yanukovych at the Nuclear Security Summit, where Ukraine took the historic decision to get rid of all of its highly enriched uranium.… [T]hat decision is being implemented as we speak, and the secretary will have a chance to follow up on how that is proceeding.

Among other things, Clinton will also meet with Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and hold a town-hall meeting at Kyiv Polytechnic Institute.

(In the photo above, Clinton shakes hands with Ukraine’s then-Foreign Minister Petro Poroshenko on Dec. 9, 2009, in Washington. Kostyantyn Gryshchenko is now the current foreign minister.)

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP

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