Successful Ukraine, sovereign, democratic and prosperous, means not only the victory of the West, but the defeat of Putinism. That was the main idea of the Kyiv Security Forum online discussion “Who Is at War Against Democracy,” organized by Arseniy Yatsenyuk Open Ukraine Foundation.
Danylo Lubkivsky, Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine in 2014, member of the Board of Management of Open Ukraine Foundation emphasized that new international reality has taken over Ukraine in 2014.
“Russia has attacked Ukraine that year. And at that time, for us, the international order, as we knew it before, collapsed. The violation of the Budapest Memorandum, according to which we renounced nuclear weapons, showed that no one can feel safe. Thanks to the titanic efforts of Ukrainians, the government, the army, with the support of a large number of international partners, we were able to restrain aggression and defend our independence,” he said.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Prime Minister of Ukraine (2014-2016), founder of the Open Ukraine Foundation and Kyiv Security Forum noted that it is unacceptable that Russia is trying to force Ukraine “to legitimize Russia’s proxies with these so-called “local elections” and these weird workshops of different representatives of Donetsk and Luhansk.”
“The Russian idea is to dismantle Ukraine as an independent state. So I strongly believe that in current circumstances, the implementation of the Minsk deal in the Russian interpretation is a disaster for the Ukrainian people and for the Ukrainian state,” he stressed.
KSF founder underlined, that the best response is “to have one united position, to be on the same page with the European Union”: ‘We need the strong EU leadership and the leadership of the United States.”
“Putin has to realize that he can not solve his problems at the price of Ukraine. He has to realize that an appeasement policy, which showed its ineffectiveness in the previous century, will not be applied to Putin in current circumstances,” Mr. Arseniy Yatsenyuk emphasized.
“Putin wants to be a focal point of all the dictators in Europe. We need to stop them and we need to defend Ukraine. Ukraine as one of the key defenders of democracy in Europe. We showed it, we proved it, so let’s do it together,” former Prime Minister said.
He underlined that he “feels a certain vacuum of power in the contemporary world”: “Nature abhors the vacuum. Dictators abhor the weak democracies. And that's what we have right now.”
“Democracy has to produce strong leadership in order to defend itself and to deter dictators. Dictators are feeling quite good right now. For example, President Putin,” founder of KSF said.
Mr. Arseniy Yatsenyuk mentioned that 13 years ago he as a Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine had a meeting with then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He noted that during this meeting he said “Ukraine is encircled with the Russian military and Russian forces. Look at Belarus, look at Russia, look at what is happening in Crimea, look at what is going on in Transnistria. We are under Russia’s siege.” And seven years later Russia illegally annexed Crimea and sent its troops to Donetsk and Luhansk.
“Ukraine deterred Russian aggression. No doubt we did it with the support of our Western allies and the free world. But Ukraine is still under the Russian siege and the threat of large-scale Russian aggression. So we defended our homeland and we defended your independence and your democracy,” he emphasized.
“We need strong American leadership. And we need strong both the United States and the European Union. Transatlantic unity is the best recipe on how to stop and how to deter dictators like President Putin,” Mr. Arseniy Yatsenyuk underlined.
He thinks that disinformation is one of the key challenges that have to be urgently tackled. “In my humble opinion, practically there is no longer any real solid freedom of speech. What we are facing right now in some parts of the world is the “freedom of lie’. And this is the biggest challenge,” he underlined.
“In the current world everything that is white can be easily switched to black, everything that is round can be easily switched to square. So I see disinformation as one of the key challenges that have to be urgently tackled,” Arseniy Yatsenyuk emphasized.
Global media, such as Washington Post, New York Times are currently fighting with disinformation: “The same is happening in Ukraine, but the problem is that we have a lack of this freedom of speech space. It's all about who owns the media outlets, who owns Ukrainian TV channels. Putin controls 50% of the news channels in Ukraine, so he can easily control 50% of the minds and hearts of Ukrainians,” KSF founder said.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk emphasized, that Putin’s goal is not to provide his own narrative but to undermine the truth: “Putin’s goal is to inject chaos into Ukraine and into the Western world. Putin’s goal is to undermine credibility, Putin’s goal is to undermine this trust, Trust in the leadership, in the leaders, and in the values. And we have to tackle this with our own narratives, our own truth, the real freedom of speech, and the effective journalism and independent news outlets.”
Anne Applebaum, American journalist and historian, the Pulitzer Prize winner emphasized that in the modern world the line of demarcation does not run between dictatorships and democracies. The main difference, which suddenly appeared all over the world, is the difference between trustworthy states, which have a competent administrative apparatus, and which can unite their nations in the face of modern crises, the journalist believes.
Daniel Fried, American diplomat, the former US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, the coordinator for sanctions policy during the Obama administration stated that the endurance of the United States is often underestimated.
“I remember previous times when the fall of America was predicted, when the decline of America was predicted. But this did not happen. Democracies have internal endurance. History shows that the United States can pull itself out of a predicament at a critical time. And this is what distinguishes us from Russia, where the institutional potential does not actually exist,” he said.
Rebecca Harms, German politician, the Member of the European Parliament in 2004-19 stressed the importance of trust between the people and the authorities: “This is what determines whether we as a society will be able to cope with all the challenges posed by this pandemic. This is exactly the situation in which trust is needed more than ever. And I would like to express the hope that the countries that have started well in this regard will continue to do so in the coming months.”
Peter Pomeranzev, British journalist and author, the Visiting Senior Fellow at the Institute of Global Affairs at the London School of Economics noted that now the world is in a situation reminiscent of religious wars in Europe: “Let's say the Hundred Years' War, when everyone fought with everyone, and then there was a plague that killed half of Europe. So, the parallels here are quite clear.”
“The coronavirus has appeared before all political technologists, manipulators, information warriors, as they call themselves, and tells them: this is what reality is - death is reality. It is very interesting now to watch politicians who are used to behaving like matadors, avoiding reality, the consequences of their actions, the truth, closing themselves off with propaganda. And not only Trump but also Putin and some others, when they are faced with a situation where death catches up with us and shows everyone what he really is,” Peter Pomerantsev said.
Volodymyr Yermolenko, Ukrainian philosopher, analytics director at Internews Ukraine, editor-in-chief at UkraineWorld thinks that we return to “zoopolitics”: “It is such a biological or zoological metaphor for defining political bodies or political figures. And this is quite dangerous by nature. It's not just what's happening in, say, Russia or the United States, it's happening everywhere. And in this case, if you look at modern Russia, at the Kremlin, it is probably the best example of zoopolitical ideology.”
Kyiv Security Forum is Ukraine’s foremost platform for high-level international discussion about peace and security. Kyiv Security Forum was founded in 2007.