Russia’s invasion one year on – What are Ukrainians’ hopes for the future?
On 24 February 2022, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. One year into to the war, three CMI partners share their views on what is needed for a sustainable peace.
What are Ukrainians’ hopes for the future?
“I think that, to some extent, the dream for Ukrainians is literally just to survive this war and to take care of their families and children. I have decided to stay in Kyiv, where we just had an air raid alarm today. Another expectation for Ukrainians is to gain peace through victory and make this peace last. Without the sovereignty of countries of Eastern Europe and Ukraine we will not have security.
When it comes to the future recovery of Ukraine, there could be opportunities to modernise the country. It is a great chance to change some things in Ukraine for the better. This could make the entire country more sustainable.”
What is needed for sustainable peace in Ukraine?
“It is about the quality of peace, its lasting effect and the guarantee that these kind of attacks will not happen again. There could be other states in the world who could try the same thing in other regions. That is why it is important to have the support of Western powers for global security. We need solidarity and cooperation between states. Unfortunately, multilateral organisations such as the UN and the OSCE have not contributed to the settlement of this conflict. There should be a revision of the system of international security.”
For us to have peace, we also need to look at the concept of peace as the elimination of the consequences of occupation. These consequences – humanitarian, economic and social – are really crucial for Ukraine and the entire region. I think we don’t acknowledge all of these consequences yet and there is a lot of work ahead in terms of understanding what has happened and what to do next.”
What is the role of resilience and social cohesion?
“Our initiative, the National Platform for Resilience and Social Cohesion, is about collaboration between different Ukrainian stakeholders, such as advocacy groups, think tanks and regional unions, on what really makes Ukraine and its society more resilient. It is about sharing best practices and enhancing mutual trust to respond to the crisis caused by the war. We also have thematic areas of interest. For instance, we try to influence policies on the reintegration of veterans in the post-war period. We need to get ready for this reintegration now, before the war ends.”
What are Ukrainians’ hopes for the future?
“Speaking of the future in general I expect that Ukraine will be supported. Another expectation that we have is about order and justice. Here I am talking about the support of the international community and Ukrainian initiatives aimed at the condemnation of the crime of aggression by Russia. The third expectation is that we hope that Ukraine will become a member of the EU and that we can build a stronger Europe together. Ukraine is a big net exporter of security in the European continent.”
How to come out of the war?
“There is no all-fitting solution but different comprehensive measures: military action and diplomacy as well as concerted actions by NATO and the EU. We need to make sure that we have better defence in Ukraine. Diplomatic measures related to the isolation of the aggressor are needed. It is very important for us to have solidarity, to condemn armed aggression and to make sure that Russia cannot block the activities of the UN Security Council. Otherwise, it will be difficult for us to stop the aggression.
When we talk about lasting peace, we really need to be realistic, and also to face the fact that if we are going regain the territorial integrity of Ukraine, it is not going to be a guarantee of a stable peace. The key element for sustainable peace is to make sure that Russia has begun a process of self-transformation. It means that international sanctions cannot be stopped when Ukraine has its territorial integrity restored. International sanctions must be linked to Russia’s commitment to self-transformation.”
What is the role of resilience and social cohesion in building sustainable peace?
“We have a heroic resistance in Ukraine. And I am not just talking about the armed forces of Ukraine but also about other parts of the Ukrainian society. Ultimately, we mean the resilience of people. We have really had a boom of solidarity, volunteering and different civil society initiatives. This is the formula of Ukrainian resilience, which is based on some of the distinctive features of Ukrainian culture, such as self-organisation, readiness to protect yourself, to protect European values related to freedom and human dignity. It is important for these practices, approaches and models to be institutionalised and for them to have international recognition.”
After one year of war in Ukraine – what are your hopes for the future?
“Globally, we have had this idea of Russia being very powerful. When it comes to Ukraine, the expectations were quite different. Our strength has surprised many and our resistance is something that no one anticipated. This year it is important to reflect on these capabilities – especially when it comes to resilience.
Ukraine is defending itself while also defending Europe. We already know what the price of peace is. We have many people who have suffered a lot and have given up territories.”
How to come out of the war?
“We have two layers of resistance – the Russian-Ukrainian war but also the global threat to the world that one country can actually breach common rules without punishment.
In Ukraine, we talk about liberation, safety and security. To reach this, Russia cannot go unpunished for what it has been doing to democratic countries, even before Ukraine. That kind of world is not a world we would like to find ourselves in. It is not stable. What is needed in Ukraine is the liberation of its territories, creating positive peace and making sure we are protected from aggression. In the context of international security and European security in particular, we need to ensure that the experiences we have after this war are well reflected in and lay the foundation for a safer world, so that neither Russia nor others can repeat this.”
What is needed for sustainable peace?
“The world can live without Russia, but Russia cannot live without the rest of the world. Even when Ukraine regains its freedom, it is important for us to understand how we can achieve this transformation for Russia. Post-war integration is important for us in order to reach synergy and is one of the ways for us to achieve a long-lasting peace.
Since the beginning of the war, the National Platform for Resilience and Social Cohesion has been involved in different processes of dialogue and activities with NGOs, governments and has cooperated with data collectors. We have the expertise, the network and different communications channels. Since last spring, there has been trust in us from international and national structures that has allowed us to have a better understanding of the situation. In Ukraine, it is important to work with hidden challenges. We have the expertise and we are hopeful that we can contribute in this respect at local, regional, national and international levels.”
The National Platform for Resilience and Social Cohesion (formerly – National Platform “Dialogue on Peace and Secure Reintegration”) was founded in 2018 as a civic and non-partisan initiative by representatives of Ukrainian civil society in cooperation with the CMI – Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation. The National Platform constitutes an inclusive, multi-stakeholder and multi-level dialogue infrastructure working at national, regional and local levels in Ukraine. Since the start of the full-scale invasion by Russia and in response to the ensuing crisis, the central role of the National Platform has been to mobilise, support and advocate cross-sectoral initiatives aimed at enhancing the resilience and social cohesion of Ukraine.
The National Platform has been supported in the framework of the project “Building Resilience in Conflict through Dialogue”, funded by the European Union and implemented by CMI – Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation in cooperation with the Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR) and Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union (UHHRU).