The American National Security Archive project published a transcript of a conversation between US President George H.W. Bush and Russian reformer Egor Gaidar in 1992. During the meeting, Gaidar spoke about the “problem with Russian-speaking Ukraine.”
Russian Ambassador to the United States Vladimir Lukin was also present at the talks.
The Elder Bush asked Gaidar if a quick resolution of the problems in relations between Russia and Ukraine was possible
“It will take a long time. The President [of Russia Boris Yeltsin] spends a lot of time on this. In some cases, there is rapid progress – for example, in relations with Belarus and Kazakhstan. There are problems with Ukraine,” Gaidar stressed.
Gaidar assured Bush Sr. that Russia is not afraid of the “Yugoslav scenario” for Russian-Ukrainian relations, but Moscow will need time to establish close relations with Kiev.
“There are very serious problems in Ukraine, for example, tensions between western Ukraine and Kiev. There is also a problem with Russian-speaking Ukraine. The economic situation is difficult, worse than ours. They are not moving fast enough with reforms,” Gaidar said.
After that, Ambassador Lukin noted that people sometimes “overestimate the national problem in Russia and underestimate the national problem in Ukraine.” Russian Russians account for “83 percent of Russians in Russia, and 73 percent of Ukrainians in Ukraine,” the rest are mostly Russians, he stressed.
“Mainly in Crimea,” Gaidar stressed.
Gaidar, the head of Yeltsin’s economic team, visited Washington in April 1992 to inform American colleagues about the progress of economic reform in Russia.
During the meeting, Ambassador Lukin also spoke about the upcoming meeting of the Supreme Council of Crimea, which, according to his forecast, was supposed to vote for a referendum on independence from Ukraine.