Victor Pinchuk Foundation and YES held discussion “Battlefield: Is the Tide against Ukraine?” during the YES meeting in Kyiv “Two Years — Stay in the Fight”

24 February 2024

On 24 February 2024, the Victor Pinchuk Foundation and Yalta European Strategy (YES) held a discussion “Battlefield: Is the Tide against Ukraine?” on the occasion of the YES meeting in Kyiv “Two Years - Stay in Fight” dedicated to the second anniversary of Russia’s brutal and unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Speakers discussed Ukraine’s fight for life, freedom and rules-based order as well as how to aid Ukrainians victory in this fight for us all.

Amongst the participants of the discussion were Elliot Ackerman, Contributing Writer, The Atlantic; Wesley Clark, Chairman, Wesley K. Clark & Associates; NATO Supreme Allied Commander (1997-2000); Yehor Firsov, Chief Sergeant - Deputy Commander of the UAV Strike Uni; Oleksandr Kamyshin, Minister for Strategic Industries of Ukraine; Oleksandr Korniyenko, First Deputy Chairman, Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine; Liudmyla Meniuk, war veteran, volunteer, Human rights organization of soldier's mothers 'Malva'; Rafal Modrzewski, CEO and Co-Founder, ICEYE Ltd; Dr. Gundbert Scherf, CEO and Co-Founder, Helsing and Bob Seely, Member of Parliament; Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, House of Commons of the UK. Carl Bildt, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden (2006-2014); and former Prime Minister of Sweden Member and YES Board member, moderated the event.

Carl Bildt kicked off the panel setting the scene: “We are now two years into war, those in Moscow who started it thought it would be over in a few weeks. But Ukraine has defied all expectations and continues to fight. Their fight is the fight for us all in the future.”

Oleksandr Korniyenko asked guests to ask themselves questions: “We are in a strange situation. We hear this is an existential war – a war fighting for freedom, democracy, universal values. Yet when I come to the front line, where are the ammunition, military and the packages of support? How long will we have to wait? The time we wait loses lives. What can we do right now? We need to ask you to help us. We want to ask for your support now and every day.”

Oleksandr Kamyshin, stated that to turn the tide more international support is needed: “If we say Ukraine is against the tide, I might say yes you might be right. But we need to look at who is supporting us behind the tide. Just in this room you can see the  guests in the room who have supported us. There are amazing stories. Did any of you think that when the tide came we would be able to support the banking systems, the railways and the government keep running? And that is not to say anything about the military heroes. Yes, we may stand against the tide but we stand with honour.”

Bob Seely commented on the importance of international military aid: “There are massive strategic issues facing Ukraine – and the most critical is the supply of weapons. The most important relationship for Ukraine is with international governments, but you also need to communicate to the people in those countries what you lack. There is a sense of urgency that we in the West may no longer be seeing, maybe because of what is going on in Israel and Gaza. The things that are going to win you this war is artillery.”

Wesley Clark, started by saying: “We are two years into a war that could last six years. We are two years into a war that will only end when Putin admits defeat or Russia collapses, where nuclear war has been threatened, that began in the Ukraine and will consume the Middle East and even Asia. We are two years into a war where the courage and fortitude of the people of Ukraine will be severely tested. Ukraine needs to innovate, and mobilise and produce.”

Dr. Gundbert Scherf highlighted the role of Ukrainian bravery in helping to turn the tide: “Technology has played a huge role but it is nothing without the bravery of the Ukrainian people. The tide changes every day. This has been a David against Goliath challenge from the beginning. As technologists we need to give David the slingshot. The slingshot is changing all of the time. The use of drones, of using software and AI. We need a new form of partnership. Ukraine shouldn’t just be a receiver of software but a producer of technology.”

Rafal Modrzewski was positive about the outcome of the war: “I believe we are going to win this war. This war is a marathon and not a sprint. There are good times and there are bad times. We have hit a rough patch, and a difficult moment, but it is important how we tell the story.”

Wesley Clark added: “We are going to have to have courage as a civilisation to confront Vladimir Putin. He cannot beat us but he can frighten us into submission. You have to face the nuclear threats and belly up to the bar. You are fighting the battle for Western civilization. We can finish it here or we can let you perish and can pick this up globally with less results. But in Ukraine you need to synchronize combat power – you cannot throw soldiers to the problem.”

Photos are available here

Video is available at the Victor Pinchuk Foundation YouTube channel

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Anders Aslund
Anders Aslund
Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics, 8th YES Annual Meeting, 2011
«Ukraine possesses high economic potential which is not used in full»