Victor Pinchuk Foundation and YES held discussion “Ukraine's Future: EU, NATO, Ukraine and Victory.” during the YES meeting in Kyiv “Two Years — Stay in the Fight”

25 February 2024

On 24 February 2024, the Victor Pinchuk Foundation and Yalta European Strategy (YES) held a discussion “Ukraine's Future: EU, NATO, Ukraine and Victory” on the occasion of the YES meeting in Kyiv “Two Years — Stay in the 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 Ali Ehsassi, Member of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association; Member of the Parliament, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Commons of Canada; Tobias Ellwood, Chair of the Defence Select Committee, House of Commons of the United Kingdom; Michael Gahler, Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Standing Rapporteur on Ukraine, European Parliament; John Herbst, Senior Director, Eurasia Center, Atlantic Council; Boris Ruge, Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy, NATO; Olha Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine and Igor Zhovkva, Deputy Head, Office of the President of Ukraine.

Olha Stefanishyna started the panel by stating that The Munich Security Conference has brought Ukraine back on top of the international agenda: “We are now the front runner when it comes to EU membership and NATO. We don’t accept any delays or forgive political failure. We are doing our job, and learning to live within broader EU society. We are rebuilding relationships with our neighbours and other EU Members.”

“This goes much deeper than relationships and partnerships — it means us building consensus and learning to adjust and move forward. What is more important to us as a country in war, is what comes after the war. The EU is becoming a capable structure to address current and future challenges. Leaders are mobilised and united to take action,” she added.

Boris Ruge said: “It is an emotional day to be in Kyiv and we come away impressed with Ukraine’s determination, and an even greater sense of urgency. This sense of urgency is badly needed. The future of Ukraine is in NATO. It is a matter of when not if. We are working with our Ukrainian partners and looking forward to the Washington summit, which is less than five months away, to lend credibility to this statement. We are in constant contact with our Ukrainian partners through the NATO-Ukraine Council, established in Vilnius. I believe that when we arrive in Washington, we will have an agreement among the 32 allies and an agreement with Ukraine on how to move forward. This will underpin our objective with concrete steps, demonstrating to people in this country and beyond that we are serious and that NATO and Ukraine are moving closer together.”

Igor Zhovkva concurred: “Ukraine is more than ready for membership of NATO. The so-called experts predicted our defeat within days and weeks. We withstand and know how to win. There shouldn’t be a moment of uncertainty with Ukraine. If there is, it is our job to make the uncertainty a certainty. We cannot afford procrastination.”

“NATO is for life, and the EU is for a better life”, stated Michael Gahler. “We need both of course. We want a Ukraine that resembles the other countries. They are on the right track to fulfill the requirements, but some complications need to be addressed along the way, but we are confident they will succeed.”

Ali Ehsassi criticised certain member countries for not pulling their weight: “In the past several months we have seen one member wavering in its support. When this happens, those in public service must step up and demonstrate their support. The polls are suggesting that Canadians know full well how important it is to be there for Ukraine and be unwavering in our support.”

Tobias Ellwood added: “I am very proud of what the British have done in support of Ukraine, but we need to do more. The reality is even if we stop Russia at the doorstep, it won’t stop Russia with its wider intentions. We are still focusing on domestic politics. Russia won’t stop here while we debate if Ukraine should be granted membership.”

John Herbst ended the session calling for a stronger foreign policy against Russia. “The problem is a revisionist Russia willing to do anything to achieve its aims. It aims to destroy NATO. We need to embrace Ukraine; you will have no stability without Ukraine joining NATO,” he concluded.

Photos are available here

Video is available at the Victor Pinchuk Foundation YouTube channel

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Andriy Kobolyev
Andriy Kobolyev
CEO, Naftogaz of Ukraine, 15th YES Annual Meeting, 2018
«Nordstream 2 is a much wider problem than just gas matters. That’s about security of Ukraine, it’s a matter of our survival.»