Summary of the Conference: Only together can we win the war in Ukraine

On the 23 April 2015, Ukrainian Think Tanks Liaison Office in Brussels in cooperation with the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies organized the international conference “War in Ukraine: where are we now and where are we going?” Ukrainian officials and experts, NATO and EU representatives were invited to provide their analyses of the situation on the ground in Ukraine, its possible developments and factors of victory.

Around 150 people attended the conference. The full video of the conference is available here.

Oleksii Makeiev, Political Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, stressed, that Ukrainian government is fulfilling and will continue to fulfill its obligations under Minsk agreement because it is the way to bring back peace to Ukraine. On the other hand, the other side is breaking the agreement. “Since 12 February, when presidents of four countries negotiated the Minsk agreements we lost 65 of our soldiers, more than 200 were wounded, and the number of shelling is more than 2000. If you ask me: “Is it a cease-fire?” I would say “No”. “Russia has broken the agreement at the moment of its signature” – said Mr. Makeiev. In order for the agreement to be effective, all of the steps prescribed in it must be implemented. These include: an actual сease of the fighting, withdrawal of artillery and foreign troops from Ukrainian territory, exchange of hostages, social and economic recovery of the territory that suffered during the war. After these steps are fully implemented, the local fair election will follow and international observers must get a full access to ensure the democratic process.

If you ask me: “Is it a cease-fire?” I would say “No”. “Russia has broken the agreement at the moment of its signature” – Oleksii Makeiev

Ambassador Olof Ehrenkrona, Consulate-General of Sweden in Mariehamn, Finland, reminded everyone that European security is based among others on Helsinki Treaty, containing 10 elements, all of which Russia broke when it used force against its neighbor – Ukraine. Nonetheless, Mr. Ehrenkrona believes that the European Union cannot afford to change the policy of values to the policy of geopolitics, as such policy is long gone from Europe and it cannot be a liable recipe for the future.

We cannot change the nature of the European Union, we cannot go back to the policy of geopolitics and deal with nations as one did a hundred years ago – Ambassador Olof Ehrenkrona

Mykola Sunhurovskyi, Director of the Military Programmes, Razumkov Centre, told that Ukraine has enough military personnel to hold back Russian aggression, however it lacks defensive weapons, among others: anti-tank missiles and secured radio communication systems. Such weapons would help to reduce numbers of casualties among civilian population. According to Mr. Sunhurovskyi, Putin’s plan has not worked out yet because Ukraine still has the resources to fight Russian troops and Russian backed separatist who are in the Donbas, yet how long the truce lasts will depend on how powerful will the help from the West be.

 “All separatist groups in Donbas are headed by the Russian officers. Their number is 12, 000, plus 36,000 separatists and 54,000 of armed groups on the Ukraine – Russia border. Russians have created management bases, logistics bases, bases for intake of injured etc. All of this indicates that massive attack is being prepared and it will happen. The aim is to go further into Ukrainian territory in order to force Ukraine to negotiate and to recognize the Donetsk and Luhansk republics within the boundaries of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, to give Russia a land corridor to the Crimea, and to give the status to the unrecognized republics”.  

Russians have created management bases, logistics bases, bases for intake of injured etc. All of this indicates that massive attack is being prepared and it will happen – Mykola Sunhurovskyi 

Mark Laity, Chief Strategic Communications at SHAPE, NATO, said that there are hundreds of Russian supplied tanks in Eastern Ukraine, and thousands Russians have gone into Ukraine to fight Ukrainians. He also dismissed the claims that NATO is fooling everyone around and is not presenting concrete evidence about the situation in Eastern Ukraine.  “The intelligence we use is not American or British. It is NATO intelligence. It is taken from all nations. Nothing what I heard privately contradicts what I heard publicly. You are not hearing an “American song. Look at the open sources, websites tracking where all the artillery has been fired from; all of this is an open source evidence. What the Russians have done is overwhelming. 

Today, you don’t need intelligence service anymore. It is all there, look and you will see – Mark Laity 

Olena Prystayko, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Think Tanks Liaison Office in Brussels, summarized the main conclusions of the conference. First of all, she stressed that “we all are together in this war. It’s not an internal conflict, it is not a bilateral Russia – Ukraine war, it is an attack on the global security order”. Second of all, hybrid war needs the hybrid response and responses to this attack should be found on the national, European and international levels.

Defending Ukraine European and international community defend themselves – Olena Prystayko