News Europe How Ukrainians build a European country

How Ukrainians build a European country

For more than five months, the Ukrainians have heroically and valiantly defended their country from the Russian attack. Despite the initial skepticism of the world, they successfully mobilized their efforts, united and persisted against the most difficult challenge in the modern history of Ukraine. The whole civilized world is helping Ukraine in its defense against Russia, but the help would have been impotent were it not for the resistance of the Ukrainians and their desire to liberate their land from the Russian invaders. The new young and, as it turns out, professional European elite, led by President Zelensky, has become an essential base for the Ukrainian struggle. Who is this new Ukrainian elite and how has their rise to power affected Ukraine in the war against Russia?

2019 was the year of the so-called electoral revolution, which triggered radical changes in the Ukrainian political elites. With an overwhelming 73% support, Volodymyr Zelensky – a novice in politics and public administration – became president. Zelenski restarted the Parliament, with the political force of him, Servant of the People, obtaining a single party majority. As a result, the old politicians were left out of key political processes. For two years, former politicians hoped that Zelensky and his team would fail. None of the gloomy predictions have come true.

It has been the new generation of politicians who have faced the greatest challenges in the history of Ukraine’s independence: from the coronavirus to the large-scale Russo-Ukrainian war. The Ukrainians have been fighting hard against the “second world army” for five months.

Why does the Ukraine of 2022 have a model of protection of its territory so different from that of 2014? The key characteristic of the old Ukrainian elite was the ability to adapt to the needs and desires of larger and more important geopolitical actors. For most of them, it did not matter whether said actor was Moscow or Washington, and everything was determined by the situation. The situation began to change slowly in 2014, with the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war.

What guided Ukrainian politicians before 2019? Think about this: in 2014, Russia began its special operation to occupy Crimea. He was successful without firing a single shot. As Russian troops occupied the Crimean peninsula, the Ukrainian Armed Forces made no move to stop the invaders. Why? The then acting president Oleksandr Turchynov did not give the order to defend our land from the Russians. It is clear that Putin perceived this action – or the lack of it – as a weakness and therefore decided to unleash a war in Donbas.

In 2015, Ukraine had the opportunity to liberate Donbas or at least the city of Luhansk. The Armed Forces were ordered by new President Petro Poroshenko to stand down, an order that led to the well-known Ilovaisk and Debaltsevo tragedies. Why? Although there is still no clear answer, Petro Poroshenko, together with the godfather of Putin’s son, Viktor Medvedchuk, is now suspected of treason and of organizing plans to supply coal from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic in Russian interest. Furthermore, during Poroshenko’s tenure as president, Medvedchuk seized control of three television channels in Ukraine, effortlessly created a pro-Russian party, and acquired many oil and gas businesses.

When Zelensky came to power, he declared his intention to stop the war in Donbas politically and diplomatically, but not at the expense of Ukrainian national interests. He would not let Russia use Donbas as a lever of influence in Ukraine’s geopolitical vector. During the Revolution of Dignity, the Ukrainians were very clear in defining their vision of the country: they aspired to be members of the EU and NATO. Zelensky also began an active fight against pro-Russian forces in the Ukraine, primarily Viktor Medvedchuk, who used to enjoy Poroshenko’s protection. Medvedchuk’s television channels were shut down, and he became the subject of various investigations for treason and other serious crimes.

At the same time, Zelensky was ready to determine the modalities of Ukraine’s coexistence with Russia, which remains our unlucky neighbor. Ukraine was also ready to negotiate certain concessions and compromises. However, Russia was not satisfied with this option. The Kremlin’s task has always been to capture all Ukrainian territories and create Soviet Union 2.0, which remains Putin’s sick fantasy.

Realizing that Zelensky would not surrender, Moscow decided to launch a full-scale invasion using the entire arsenal of weapons at its disposal. But unlike Turchynov and Poroshenko, Zelensky gave the order to defend the Ukraine and kill the occupants. When offered evacuation by Western partners, Zelensky responded with what has quickly become a catchphrase: “I need weapons, not evacuation.” The contrast with the previous elites inspired the Ukrainians to be even stronger in their fight.

Zelensky’s leadership not only united Ukrainians, but inspired the entire world to help Ukraine, a country and a people that uphold fundamental European values ​​such as freedom, equality, identity and the right to a secure life. Today Ukraine has a very different approach: all Russian businesses are closed in the country, the pro-Russian fifth column no longer exists, diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation are severed and any collaboration with the aggressor is severely punished. In addition, there is the international group of experts McFaul-Yermak, which actively and effectively develops anti-Russian sanctions policy proposals for our partners, who see the resilience of the Ukrainians in the fight against Russia. As a result, there is an unprecedented level of sanctions pressure on the Russian Federation. It is true that the current pressure is still not enough, but we believe that the joint efforts of Ukraine and the world will make the economic life of Russia, a terrorist state, unbearable. This is an important prerequisite for the cessation of Russian aggression against Ukraine and other potential targets, such as the Baltic states and Poland. After all, Russia openly declares that there will be other targets after Ukraine.

If we do not stop Russia now, its direct conflict with NATO will be inevitable, with all the corresponding consequences, since the North Atlantic Treaty establishes that an attack on one country of the Alliance is considered an attack on all the allies. Unfortunately, not everyone in Western Europe understands this.

Ukraine can stop Russia, we just need more support in the form of sanctions and the supply of the latest accurate long-range weapons. Ukraine can become a shield for the EU, dismounting the Kremlin from any thought of aggression against EU and NATO members. At the same time, the world should understand that Ukraine is not a gray area. We are a European nation finding the strength to carry out reforms and accelerate its path to EU membership in the midst of war.

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