Kharkiv: Defying Stereotypes and Leading the Way to Ukraine’s Future

Posted by: U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt

Читати українською

Neutron Source Facility, Kharkiv, March 2016
Neutron Source Facility, Kharkiv, March 2016

This week, I had the honor to travel to Kharkiv with President Poroshenko as we launched the commissioning phase of our joint $73 million state-of-the-art Neutron Source Facility, which has the potential to vastly expand the research capabilities of the renowned Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology.  My visit, and especially our meeting with the bright young police volunteers training to serve in Slovyansk, Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk, reminded me again how fast Ukraine is changing, and just how outdated the simplistic Russian narrative of Ukrainian geographic division has become.  Seeing such dynamic energy in Kharkiv and all the exciting projects in progress there underlines the hope I have for Ukraine’s future.

My first stop with the President was the Kharkiv Institute for Physics and Technology’s Neutron Source Facility (NSF).  It was well over a year ago that I first visited the site with Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller in December of 2014.  At that time, the project still had some way to go before the NSF could start work.  This time around, though, it’s in the very final stretch, with physical construction now complete.  The $73 million the United States has invested in this state-of-the-art facility will give Ukraine new research capabilities, as well as the ability to produce isotopes for industrial and medical use right here in Ukraine.  My congratulations go most of all to the brilliant scientists of the Institute who were our key partners in making this exciting project a reality, which marks yet another milestone in the twenty-year story (and counting) of our science and technology cooperation with Ukraine.  Ukrainian scientists continue working in close partnership with U.S. National Laboratories, including Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Idaho National Laboratory, on moving the facility from equipment installation, through commissioning, and into full operation.  The NSF will provide a platform for training a new generation of nuclear experts in Ukraine, and continue the proud tradition of excellence in applied and theoretical physics that has distinguished  the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology since its founding in 1928.

In my conversation with President Poroshenko during the visit, I urged him to support all the steps necessary to commission the facility in 2016, so that Ukrainians can benefit from the full potential of the research center. The upcoming 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, scheduled for March 31 and April 1 in Washington, D.C., will offer President Poroshenko to reaffirm, and the world to recognize, Ukraine’s continuing international leadership on issues of nuclear non-proliferation and safety.

From the NSF, we were off to meet the new Patrol Police cadets training in Kharkiv and observe their rigorous (and action-packed!) basic training course.  The group we saw will fill new Patrol Police positions in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, including Kramatorsk, Slovyansk and Severodonetsk.  I was incredibly inspired by these patriotic young men and women – who represent the next generation of Ukrainians taking their country’s future into their own hands.  Like the cadets in other cities, they are taking the initiative to win the trust of their fellow citizens and keep their communities safe.  I have been very proud of the United States’ support throughout Ukraine for the new Patrol Police, who play an essential role in helping rebuild the faith that the Ukrainian people have in their government institutions – one of their most valuable contributions to Ukrainian society.  And nowhere is that more valuable than in these communities in eastern Ukraine, where Russia’s unprovoked aggression has wrought such devastation and threatened – unsuccessfully, I might add – to destroy people’s trust in their government.  But contrary to Russia’s intentions, Ukraine is stronger and more united than ever, and these cadets are living proof of it.

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Kharkiv Patrol Police Training Center, March 2016

Kharkiv is among the many Ukrainian cities making reforms to attract investment and jobs to their region, and this was evident at our visit to Turboatom, a turbine manufacturer and longtime Kharkiv institution that provides thousands of jobs at its mammoth facility near the center of the city.  Turboatom may have a long history, but it’s also reinventing itself: it’s reached deals with U.S. businesses including Westinghouse and Holtec to modernize Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and move Ukraine toward sustainable energy independence.  Westinghouse is helping Turboatom modernize Ukraine’s nuclear reactors, providing more clean energy to the national electrical grid and developing expertise relevant to other countries with Russian designed reactors, including in Europe; Holtec, meanwhile, is jointly developing spent nuclear fuel storage systems with Turboatom for both domestic and international markets.  It was striking to see at Turboatom so many Ukrainian flags, as well as a touching tribute to employees who were ATO veterans, another rebuke to Russia’s false narrative of division. I’m glad to see Ukrainian and U.S. businesses working together, as with Turboatom, to help Ukraine tap into its enormous potential in domestic energy production and to reduce its reliance on equipment imports from Russia, and hope we’ll see even more cooperation like this in the future.

Ukraine’s future is bright, as it continues to defy Russia’s stereotypes about east and west and present a united Ukraine.  My trip to Kharkiv served as a reminder of just how much more united Ukraine has become over the past two years, through their clear choice for a European identity and in response to Russia’s aggression.  Ukraine has made remarkable progress, something that is all too easy to forget in the day-to-day drama of domestic politics.  And nowhere is that more true than Kharkiv.  At the airport, just before flying back to Kyiv, I had the chance to meet with Governor Rainin.  As I noted in my last blog on Kharkiv (from September), I’m thrilled to have such a strong partner there, one who is committed to pursuing reform and anti-corruption.  As we parted ways, Governor Rainin told me with obvious pride that “Kharkiv is moving ahead.”  My visit made very clear how true that is.

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Kharkiv: Eastern Frontier of European Democracy

Posted by: U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt

Читати українською

At the end of last week, I visited Kharkiv, my first trip back since I was there last December. The winter snow may have been beautiful, but I have to say that the weather is a lot better in summer! And what I found was a city full of smart, motivated people who want to be part of a reforming, forward-looking Ukraine that is moving toward Europe.

I started off my visit by meeting with Governor Ihor Rainin. It was a real pleasure spending time with him, and I’m thrilled to have such a strong partner who’s deeply committed to fighting corruption and implementing real reform to make Kharkiv oblast an important part of a modern, European Ukraine.

7th Annual International Economic Forum, Kharkiv, Sept. 4, 2015
7th Annual International Economic Forum, Kharkiv, Sept. 4, 2015

From there, we both headed to the 7th Annual International Economic Forum, a great opportunity to bring together government and business, both local and international. I was especially glad to have the opportunity to finally meet and talk to local businessman Oleksandr Yaroslavsky, whose Premier Palace hotel was itself hosting the Forum. I was surprised and delighted to learn, when I talked to the head of the Kharkiv National University, that he had spent several months in my hometown of La Jolla (a center of research and development, like Kharkiv, with one of the highest concentrations of Nobel laureates) at the University of California San Diego.  Governor Rainin and Interior Minister Arsen Avakov both gave very strong remarks about the need for ongoing reform, and I was very grateful for Minister Avakov’s kind words about United States assistance to Ukraine as it continues to implement the changes its people demanded on the Maidan and continue to demand today. As Minister Avakov said, the strategic partnership between the United States and Ukraine is built on actions, not just words.

7th Annual International Economic Forum, Kharkiv, Sept. 4, 2015
7th Annual International Economic Forum, Kharkiv, Sept. 4, 2015

In my own remarks to the Forum (which you can read in full here), I emphasized Kharkiv’s position as a key regional center, well placed to serve both east and west, which can, and should, play a leading role in integrating Ukraine into the global economy. I also stressed the huge competitive advantage Kharkiv holds as a result of its vibrant IT sector and its workforce of highly skilled IT professionals. I had to mention U.S. projects we’re working on in Kharkiv, including our “Go Women” program supporting women entrepreneurs, our AgroInvest project on sunflower growing and harvesting, support for internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have sought refuge in Kharkiv. One project I’m especially proud of is the state-of-the-art Neutron Source Facility, which produces medical isotopes and which the United States has supported through $70 million in funding, a symbol of Kharkiv’s strong past, and future, in nuclear technology. And of course, I’m very excited about the Kharkiv Patrol Police project (more on this in a minute).

Ambassador Pyatt at the Police Academy at the Kharkiv National University of Internal Affairs, Kharkiv, Sept 4, 2015
Ambassador Pyatt at the Police Academy at the Kharkiv National University of Internal Affairs, Kharkiv, Sept 4, 2015

In our meetings and in his remarks to the Forum, I consistently heard from Governor Rainin and his advisors a strong resolve to move towards European institutions and standards as part of a united Ukraine, including embracing the decentralization that the central government has made a priority. Indeed, the Governor argued convincingly that there has been more progress on reform and anti-corruption in Kharkiv than any other oblast. One dramatic symbol of how fast Kharkiv is changing is that new Patrol Police, which was also the next stop on my Kharkiv tour.

Along with Minister Avakov and Governor Rainin, I visited the Police Academy at the Kharkiv National University of Internal Affairs, where the patrol police cadets for the city are still in training. The United States

Police Academy at the Kharkiv National University of Internal Affairs, Kharkiv, Sept 4, 2015
Police Academy at the Kharkiv National University of Internal Affairs, Kharkiv, Sept 4, 2015

has so far committed $15 million to supporting the Ukrainian government’s patrol police initiative. I was thrilled that police from my home state’s California Highway Patrol have been training these patrol police candidates (as well as Houston Police Department officers) and I was able to see the cadets in action during some “tactical demonstrations,” including some dramatic high-risk vehicle stops.

In talking to the cadets, many of whom left good jobs for the chance to help build their city’s future, I was struck by the look in these young men and women’s eyes: the hunger for serious, radical reform, which they’re counting on their government to deliver—and

Police Academy at the Kharkiv National University of Internal Affairs, Kharkiv, Sept 4, 2015
Police Academy at the Kharkiv National University of Internal Affairs, Kharkiv, Sept 4, 2015

for the international community to support. Their optimism and enthusiasm was infectious, and I wasn’t surprised to hear from Minister Avakov that this was one of the strongest groups of patrol police cadets he’s seen from across the country. It was incredibly inspiring to see these young people who have grabbed control of their future, and who are building the kind of Ukraine that its citizens have so longed to build – rule of law and European standards, just 20 minutes from the Russian border.

After the visit to the cadets, it was time for a more sobering meeting: with IDPs who have relocated to Kharkiv from Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, and who are being assisted by our USAID project partner Station Kharkiv. I made visiting Station Kharkiv a priority for my trip, because it’s critically important to focus on the difficult circumstances IDPs like the ones at Station Kharkiv find themselves in, and find ways to help. The people I met with were grateful for the assistance they’d received, and the warm welcome they’d gotten from the people of Kharkiv, but their stories were tragic: families ripped apart, their lives upended by an artificial war they certainly never asked for. I heard with concern their reports of a growing humanitarian catastrophe in occupied Donbas, of lawlessness and high prices for consumer goods on top of the danger of military conflict.

Like the cadets, and like everyone else I met with in Kharkiv, they too want to be part of a democratic, united, European Ukraine. And what was so exciting about Kharkiv was that, as much as anywhere else in the country, that’s exactly what people are building: new structures accountable to the Ukrainian people, governed by rule of law, used not to enrich or empower one family, but to build a better future for people’s children. And as I told the patrol police cadets, Ukraine is not alone in this: it has the support and the hopes of the government and the people of the United States of America.

Advancing Nuclear Medicine in Ukraine

Posted by: Gaia Self, Economic Analyst for Environment, Science, Technology and Health

Opening Day of the Nuclear Medicine Conference – Kharkiv, 19 September 2011

On September 17th I traveled to Kharkiv to attend a three-day international workshop on “Nuclear Medicine: Physics, Engineering and Practice,” which brought together over 100 scientists from 13 Ukrainian and 11 international research institutes. This forum was the first of its kind in Ukraine and created a new community of Ukrainian and international stakeholders in the field of nuclear medicine. American scientists who participated in the workshop came from Argonne National Laboratories, Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, University of Texas, University of Arizona, Johns Hopkins University and Chicago Trauma Risk Management Research Institute. The conference took place at the Institute for Scintillation Materials and was sponsored in part by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Energy. Chicago-based Argonne National Laboratories provided technical support to the event.

Scientists gathered into small groups to discuss specific projects in the field of nuclear medicine

The host city of Kharkiv has a long history as a center of academic excellence. V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, founded in 1804, was one of the oldest academic institutions of the Russian Empire. Since the early 19th Century, Kharkiv has seen the development of over 60 scientific institutions and 80 libraries, continuing today as one of the major cultural and scientific hubs of Ukraine. No other place could have been better suited to welcome dozens of international and Ukrainian scientists who gathered to assess the latest trends in nuclear medicine. One of the main goals of the workshop was to create opportunities for cooperation to reduce the cost and broaden the availability of diagnostic equipment. Speakers discussed the production of isotopes for medical purposes, instrumentation for medical imaging, trends in radionuclide diagnostics, research and development of pharmaceuticals for nuclear medicine, bio-medical applications and new detectors for nuclear medicine. The workshop also included smaller sections where experts discussed specific challenges and projects in the field of nuclear medicine, and over 50 experts complemented the formal presentations with “poster sessions” right outside the conference room. Continue reading “Advancing Nuclear Medicine in Ukraine”