The Victor Pinchuk Foundation Held The 2nd Munich Ukrainian Lunch

18 February 2018

On February 17, 2018, the Victor Pinchuk Foundation and Yalta European Strategy (YES) held the 2ndMunich Ukrainian Lunch, titled “Ukraine on the Frontlines of a New Kind of Warfare: Lessons for the West, and Prospects for Peace” that was organized at the occasion of the Munich Security Conference.

On February 17, 2018, the Victor Pinchuk Foundation and Yalta European Strategy (YES) held the 2ndMunich Ukrainian Lunch, titled “Ukraine on the Frontlines of a New Kind of Warfare: Lessons for the West, and Prospects for Peace” that was organized at the occasion of the Munich Security Conference. International decision makers and opinion leaders from the security sphere, prominent figures from politics and business, experts and media from Ukraine and the world came together to discuss the ways to peace in Ukraine and the lessons that Ukraine’s experience can teach its international partners.

The panel discussion with Dr. Robert Gates, 22nd U.S. Secretary of Defense (2006-2011), Wolfgang Ischinger,Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, Pavlo Klimkin, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraineand Kurt Volker, United States Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations and Anders Samuelsen, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark, started with the opening remarks by Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada. Stephen Sackur, Presenter, HARDtalk, BBC World News, moderated the discussion.

When opening the event, Victor Pinchuk, businessman and philanthropist, said: “Without peace for Ukraine, there will be no security for Europe and the West. At the same time, our friends want to be sure that Ukrainians learn their lessons: Ukrainians must fight corruption, establish rule of law, reform our economy and our army. And look for ways to a solution together with our friends, maybe with UN peacekeeping forces.”

Chrystia Freeland stressed in her opening remarks: “Talking about the whole question of security, I think that it is important to us, the western leaders gathered here, to appreciate that we have an obligation to Ukraine. We have that obligation because the invasion of Ukraine, the annexation of Ukrainian territory is the most significant breach of the rules based international order in Europe since the Second World War. And this is also a breach of that order that has great implications for the question of the nuclear proliferation. Ukraine voluntarily gave up nuclear weapons in 1994 and signed the Budapest Memorandum. We have to stand for Ukraine not because our Ukrainian community in Canada and the good connections between the two countries. We stand with Ukraine because we stand with the rules based on international order, and this is one of the key battle grounds in the world. And talking about reforms… This is not a favor that Ukraine must do for the West. Economic and structural reforms are something Ukrainians must do for themselves, and Ukraine has to take ownership of those reforms. We hope so much that Ukraine will use this moment to the best advantage.”

Wolfgang Ischinger also shared his introductory remarks:“I am really impressed by the number of important people who have gathered here… The Munich Security Conference is not a decision making organ of any sort, but what we can do, and what we are proud of doing is to offer this forum which brings so many decision makers from Europe and beyond to Munich each year to focus on specific unresolved issues, to engage people from public and private and other sectors. As somebody who had not known Ukraine well before, I was deeply impressed by the number, the intensity, devotion and commitment of the younger generation throughout Ukraine to engage in the civil society efforts, to create a vibrant civil society - that is your unique selling point. That is what we should be supporting”. 

Speaking of achievements on the path of building new Ukraine, Pavlo Klimkin said: “The war that we have today is not about just Donbass or Crimea. This war is about Ukraine, about Europe. Fundamentally, what Russia fears the most is success of Ukraine as a democratic and European country. I keep saying that for us, the most important point was not to win the war against Russia, but not to lose, and I think that we have achieved in this. And we have completely transformed Ukraine, and in a sense, Maidan was a point of non-return. But obviously we have to carry on with transforming our country and our society at a new dimension.”Commenting on whether the world can learn from Ukraine’s experience in resisting the new threats, he continued: “Definitely, anyone in the world can learn a lot from us, regarding cyber, propaganda, fake news, Russian terrorism, Russian attempts to destabilize Ukraine internally. In all these four years, with all the problems that we have had, we were pretty successful in countering the Russian nonconventional threats.” 

Speaking about the lessons that can be drawn from the conflict in the East of Ukraine, Robert Gates mentioned: “We have observing Russia’s two basic strategies: becoming a great military and geopolitical power again, and creating a buffer of either frozen conflicts or friendly states around… I think that the situation in the Eastern Ukraine gives Vladimir Putin an opportunity to dial up or dial down the tensions or the magnitude of the conflict as he sees fit.”

Commenting on the situation, Kurt Volker stressed that first of all, it is about a hot war, more than a hybrid war: “People are dying every day. There is urgency to this… The best thing that we could do to protect people, to create security and peace would be to have a UN mandated peace keeping force there… Russia has produced a Ukraine that knows its own identity; it is more unified, more western-oriented than ever-before. And Russia is losing the good will of the younger generation in Ukraine. Russia’s intervention is producing the opposite of what actually Russia initially would want. If you are not doing anything out of it, you are going to pay a very high price. The only benefit to this for Putin is domestically. Beyond that it is a huge negative, and it does not produce any good. This means we have to offer a way out.”

Anders Samuelsen echoed with an earlier point from Freeland’s remarks: “A lot of people would have thought that there would be a division among the European nations. And that has not happened… What is at stake here is the rule of law. Defending the rule of law is very important… Therefore we have to keep the fight here, and we have to stick to the international rule based order. On the other hand, we should do whatever we can do support for the reform process in Ukraine. There should be more progress than we are witnessing… Now it is a difficult situation. We have to have a critical dialogue and it is necessary that we do not step back. I believe there is an opportunity to keep up a momentum. But it is not moving fast enough. But we have to provide support… The glass is half full and we have to push on to have even better results.”

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko honored the event by greeting the participants and closing it with his remarks: “I was told that Ukrainian Lunch is one of the most interesting events at the Munich Security Conference. I want to congratulate you with that. This is extremely important.We here speak in one voice at the Munich Security Conference. We need to have unity in the face of Russian aggression against Ukraine, defending our freedom, democracy, our soul, sovereignty and independence. Of course, we need also unity inside Ukraine. Questions of sovereignty, territorial integrity and the future for Ukraine should unite us… unity is extremely important to us… And I am proud that, according to estimations of all international organizations, in the last three and a half years we have been doing in reforming our country more than in the previous 25 years before. But we have to be frank: this is not enough, and we should be united, and then we will change our country.”

The situation in Ukraine was also commented by John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (2005-2006), Elmar Brok, member of European Parliament, Ben Hodges, Pershing Chair in Strategic Studies at the Center for European Policy Analysis and Commander of the U.S. Army in Europe (2014-2017), Peter Hultqvist, Minister for Defense of Sweden and Michael McFaul, Director and Senior Fellow at Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University, Igor Yurgens, President of Institute of Modern Development, Russia. Among guests of the lunch were international and Ukrainian public figures, including Carl Bildt, Natalia Jaresko, Vitaliy Klitschko, Alexander Kwasniewski, Alexander Vershbow, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Yulia Tymoshenko and many others.

The Munich Ukrainian Lunch was established in 2017 at the occasion of the Munich Security Conference to promote Ukraine on the global security agenda and underline Ukraine’s importance for Europe’s security and the international order. Annually the Munich Ukrainian Lunch engages in dialogue the world decision makers and thought leaders from the security sphere to discuss Ukraine’s role and its prospects in global security structures, as well as the greatest challenges it faces today.

Over the past five decades, the Munich Security Conference (MSC)has become the major global forum for the discussion of security policy. Each February, it brings together more than 500 senior decision-makers from around the world, including heads-of-state, ministers, leading personalities of international and non-governmental organizations, as well as high ranking representatives of industry, media, academia, and civil society, to engage in an intensive debate on current and future security challenges.

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Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Executive Chairman of the Tony Blair Institute and former UK Prime Minister, 16th YES Annual Meeting, 2019
«There’s nothing wrong with having a set of policies that gain you popular support. That’s just smart politics.»