The Bosnian Recipe From the US: Specialist in Conflicts in the Former Yugoslavia Comes to Ukraine

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


This week the important visit to Ukraine of the deputy assistant to the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs Tina Kaidanow will take place. She will arrive in Kiev after visiting Berlin and Tallinn. The name of this American expert in Ukraine is not well known, but judging by her long-term diplomatic experience, it is possible to assume that Washington decided on its position concerning Kiev. Especially as it is the first visit of the official representative of the State Department to Ukraine after Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Who is Ms Kaidanow?

Tina Kaidanow in the US State Department for the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs was appointed to her position as deputy assistant to the Principal Deputy Assistant on February 22nd, 2016. In this position she supervises the maintenance of global relations and providing financial aid in the sphere of security, transfer, and the sale of military equipment of American origin.

Before her arrival in the State Department, Kaidanow was the coordinator of counter-terrorism for three years. Having graduated from Columbia University, Tina was engaged in Russian studies at the Harriman Institute — one of leaders in the US of institutes of Slavic philology. And then she appeared at the other end of the world — at first in Belgrade (1995-1997), then she spent a year in Sarajevo and two more years in Skopje, where all this time she carried out the functions of the assistant to the ambassador of the US. In 2000 she was also the deputy head of the mission in the U.S. Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and then the first ambassador of the US in the Republic of Kosovo. Later she was transferred to the position of the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs.

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The name of Tina Kaidanow appeared in connection with one more regional conflict — Georgia. In the confidential dispatch of the US Embassy in Tbilisi uploaded by hackers to the website WikiLeaks of September 25th, 2009, the author, the Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Kent Logsdon, reported to the government on Mikheil Saakashvili’s meeting with the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Tina Kaidanow, during which Saakashvili asked Kaidanow to influence Belarus so that they didn’t recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. To which Kaidanow told Saakashvili that Belarus is an inconsistent interlocutor, but the US will do everything it could to not allow the recognition of the break-away regions by other countries. To this day Belarus didn’t recognize these states.

Therefore it isn’t surprising that in connection with the visit to Ukraine of Tina Kaidanow, who was engaged for 15 years in regional conflicts, in the Ukrainian politicum there is talk on the possible recipe of a resolution of the conflict in Donbass, which she can offer to discuss.

What does Tina come with?

In the announcement of Tina’s visit on the website of the State Department it is said that the purpose of Kaidanow’s European tour is to discuss the program of military aid.

The allocation to Ukraine of 350 million dollars on programs for the strengthening of security and defense is provided in the budget of the US for 2017. The government in Kiev asks for the granting of lethal arms. Therefore the Deputy Assistant of the US Secretary of State and the Ukrainian authorities have something to discuss.

“They will talk about the help of the US to Ukraine, and about military cooperation. This is in the context of its powers. I.e. international aid in the sphere of security and bilateral relations, which is connected to arms or the commercial sale of arms made in the US. I don’t exclude that behind closed doors this question will be brought up,” said the military expert of the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation Igor Kozy in an interview to the “Golos Stolitsy” radio station.

The Bosnian scenario for Ukraine

It should be noted that the visit will take place just after the death of the OSCE representative, who was blown up together with colleagues by a land mine in the Lugansk region. After this tragedy Petro Poroshenko and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had a conversation, during which the President of Ukraine once again declared the need for the introduction in Donbass of a peacekeeping contingent. It isn’t excluded that this question will also be discussed at meetings.

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Especially as Tina Kaidanow has a vast experience in the settlement of conflicts with the participation of peacekeepers. The brightest of them — Bosnia.

Washington more than once spoke about the option of resolving the conflict in Donbass according to the Bosnian scenario. In Bosnia and Herzegovina representatives of various ethnic groups – Serbians, Bosnians (Muslim Slavs), and Croats – were at war among themselves.

Already a year ago on the eve of the vote on the appointment of Vladimir Groysman as Prime Minister, the sources of “Strana” close to diplomatic circles said that the States consider that peace in Donbass can be established in a similar way to the Dayton agreements of 1995 for peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As a reminder, these agreements provided the creation in Bosnia of separate autonomous entity of Bosnian Serbians – Republika Srpska with very large powers. And negotiations there also went very rigidly. Participants on all sides had to be closed in at the military base in Dayton until they came to an agreement.

However, during the previous US President Barack Obama, in this direction there was no real movement. The agreements signed in Minsk weren’t implemented, Ukraine didn’t start the political part of the agreements at all, and the “Normandy format” became actually frozen for the entire time of the US presidential elections, the electoral campaign in France, and the preparation for elections in Germany.

In addition, any movement on the settlement in Donbass were torpedoed by continuous violations of the truce. In fact, it is to prevent this that peacekeepers can be needed, who will separate the warring parties in order to provide a real ceasefire, after which the transition to the political settlement will be carried out.

“In reality Minsk is already a kind of Bosnian scenario. It is an option when the uniform country remains intact, but two State organisms coexist in it,” said to “Strana” the political scientist Konstantin Bondarenko.

But will Kiev manage to arrange such a scenario?

The political scientist Vadim Karasev reminds “Strana” that the Bosnian scenario as an idea for the resolution of the conflict in Donbass was already repeatedly criticized in Ukraine. “We are not Bosnia and Herzegovina, unlike us they were torn apart into pieces. While it is the idea of sovereignty and indivisibility that dominates here,” considers the political scientist.

“Even if it won’t reach the factual realisation of the Bosnian scenario, this visit is already a marker of the fact that Washington paid attention to Kiev,” said the political scientist Ruslan Bortnik to “Strana”.

“This visit anyway will be a marker that control from Washington is being restored, the figures responsible for the Ukrainian direction are being defined. The time of timelessness in Ukrainian-American relations comes to an end,” considers the political scientist.

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