Toggle navigation menu.
Helsinki Default Banner

Full Text of Letter to Powell on Kuchma’s Iraqi Arms Deal

October 24, 2002

The Honorable Colin Powell
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Mr. Secretary:

We are deeply troubled by recently published information making it clear that Ukrainian President Leonid D. Kuchma gave his personal approval for the sale of sophisticated military equipment to Iraq. His action makes a mockery of international efforts to isolate Saddam Hussein’s outlaw regime while, of course, significantly increasing the risk to U.S. and U.K. military personnel who are currently policing the “no-fly” zones and may be called upon to conduct additional operations against Iraq.

It is difficult to see Mr. Kuchma’s approval of this sale as anything other than a hostile and reckless act presumably undertaken for personal financial gain. Such criminal conduct by the leader of a country that has been a major beneficiary of U.S. political support and financial assistance is outrageous and demands a clear and firm response from the Administration.

In her testimony to the Commission on October 10, Assistant Secretary Elizabeth Jones informed us that, in Kyiv, she recently conveyed to President Kuchma the Administration’s great unhappiness with his behavior. Apparently he did not dispute the authenticity of the evidence, as he has done previously, but insisted that the equipment in question had never been delivered. Ms. Jones told us that a team of U.S. and British experts would soon visit Ukraine in an attempt to ascertain whether Mr. Kuchma’s assertions are true.

While we support sending this team of investigators, particularly given the threat to our military personnel, we feel that stronger action is warranted to demonstrate to Mr. Kuchma, as well as to other foreign officials, that such reckless and criminal behavior will have the most serious consequences. As an initial step, we urge that the Department of State establish an inter-agency group to develop concrete measures focused on the Ukrainian leader, members of the presidential administration, and other state officials. Among other things, such a group should closely examine any financial benefit Mr. Kuchma or his associates might have derived from this sale, money laundering schemes, as well as any other possible illegal activities. We further urge that the United States initiate contacts with foreign governments in an attempt to identify the money trail from sales to Iraq or possible sales to other rogue regimes. In addition, we believe official contacts with Mr. Kuchma should be kept to an absolute minimum and be conducted at the lowest possible levels.

Mr. Secretary, while we continue to endorse strong U.S. support for Ukraine and its people, given the evidence at hand it is hard to see how we might resume a normal relationship with Mr. Kuchma or place our faith in any assurances he might offer us. We believe that U.S. policy toward Ukraine must be crafted with these goals in mind. Sincerely,

Media contact

Category
Country
Issue
Date
Filter Topics Open Close
Hearings

Russia’s Alpine Assets: Money Laundering and S...

Jul 18, 2023

Switzerland has for years been a primary destination for Russian money laundering and, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a weak link in Western sanctions enforcement. This Helsinki Commission hearing examined Switzerland’s poor track record of rooting out dirty Russian money and examined potential paths forward for U.S. policymakers in persuading Switzerland to uphold its […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Hearing: Supporting a Democratic and Secure Moldova

Jul 06, 2023

Wednesday, July 12, 2023 2:00 pm Cannon House Office Building, Room 210 Live stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jm-R6rfQbCo In recent years, Moldova has enacted numerous reforms under current Moldovan President Maia Sandu to strengthen its democratic institutions, combat corruption and kleptocracy, and integrate with the European Union. In 2022, the European Union granted Moldova “Candidate” status in its […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Chairman Wilson and RM Cohen Mark Third Annual Count...

Jun 16, 2023

WASHINGTON—Today, Helsinki Commission Chairman Joe Wilson and Ranking Member Steve Cohen, Co-Chairmen of the Counter-Kleptocracy Caucus, marked the third annual Counter-Kleptocracy Month. “Foreign corruption and kleptocracy is the main reason that we face a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine today. It is the way that the Islamic Republic of Iran sustains itself. It is the […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Helsinki Commissioners Announce Re-introduction of C...

Jan 25, 2023

On Tuesday, Helsinki Commissioners Rep. Steve Cohen, Rep. Joe Wilson, and Senator Ben Cardin re-introduced the Combatting Global Corruption Act in both the House and Senate, along with Rep. Bill Keating, Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar and Senator Todd Young. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation formally designates combatting global corruption as a key U.S. national security concern. It would require […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Co-Chairman Cohen Calls for the Release of Political...

Aug 09, 2022

Washington – On the second anniversary of the sham presidential election in Belarus, the Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman and OSCE PA Special Representative on Political Prisoners Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09) issued the following statement: “Two years ago today, Belarus’s autocrat Aleksander Lukashenko put up a show of an election that he had hoped would legitimize his […]

screen-reader-text
Publications

Helsinki Commission Digital Digest July 2022

Jul 29, 2022

screen-reader-text
Publications

HELSINKI COMMISSION DIGITAL DIGEST JUNE 2022

Jun 30, 2022

screen-reader-text
Publications

Helsinki Commission Digital Digest May 2022

Jun 01, 2022

screen-reader-text
Briefings

Putin’s Bribetakers and Warmongers

May 19, 2022

The Helsinki Commission was briefed on 6,000 bribetakers and warmongers identified by Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation.

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Helsinki Commissioners Lead Bipartisan Ask for Biden...

May 12, 2022

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (MD), author of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and Chair of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission), along with Helsinki Commission Ranking Member Senator Roger Wicker (MS) and Commissioners Senators Jeanne Shaheen (NH) and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) are urging President Joe Biden to publicly sanction […]

screen-reader-text
Briefings

Russia’s Swiss Enablers

May 05, 2022

Long known as a destination for war criminals and kleptocrats to stash their plunder, Switzerland is a leading enabler of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and his cronies. After looting Russia, Putin and his oligarchs use Swiss secrecy laws to hide and protect the proceeds of their crimes. Close relations between Swiss and Russian authorities have […]

screen-reader-text
Publications

Helsinki Commission Digital Digest April 2022

Apr 29, 2022

screen-reader-text