Aspen Institute Mexico: the fifth #UkrainianDialogue on how to protect the democratic values

The Aspen Institute Kyiv launched the #UkrainianDialogue Project to communicate with Communities of international partners, provide them with truthful information about the Russian war in Ukraine, and explain how the world can help us to win. Together with Aspen Institute Mexico, the Aspen Institute Kyiv held the fifth dialogue. The session was moderated by Enrique Berruga Filloy, Executive Director of Aspen Institute Mexico.

Hennadiy Chyzhykov: “Nearly 30% of Ukrainian businesses stopped. 15% of them are working partly”

Hennadiy Chyzhykov is the President of the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industries. He was born in Donetsk, lived and studied there. The war, started in Ukraine 8 years ago has a personal face for him. During this time, he and his family lost 3 houses. 

— The first house was connected with my business in Donetsk. In 2014 I cut all connections with my business, with my house, with everything. In the first week of March this year, I lost my house 30 kilometers away from Bucha. In that region, there was one of the most difficult situations at the beginning of this war. I lost my third house 2 weeks ago. I took my mother, she is 85 years old, from the North Donetsk region. It’s a terrible situation for me. But in my country, millions of Ukrainians are facing the same. 

Hennadiy Chizhikov also says that a full-scale Russian military invasion of Ukraine and its consequences have a very negative impact on the economy.

— Of course, it’s very difficult to calculate everything during wartime  but according to our estimations, nearly 30% of Ukrainian businesses stopped. 15% of them are working partly. There are millions of working places lost. There are millions of Ukrainian small and medium businesses, who had their dreams to make bigger businesses, travel, to increase their families. And now everything stopped. 

Hennadiy Chyzhykov said that Ukrainians became stronger, in particular — like a nation. He also thinks that this war is not only about Ukraine and Russia, it’s a big question for the world. Right solutions to protect Ukraine and not repeat such situations in the future should be found. 

Andriy Zagorodnyuk: “Ukraine wants to live as a democratic nation and there is no compromise on that”

Andriy Zagorodnyuk is the Head of the Board of the Centre of Defense Strategies. Also, from 2019 to 2020 he was the Minister of Defense of Ukraine. He underlined that for all these years Russia has been cultivating inside itself the feeling that the Western world creates some sort of a threat to Russia.

 — The current Russian Government has a certain vision of its role in the world and the way they see countries around them are essentially their enemies or they should be dependent on Russia. They consider the West as the sort of geopolitical competitor in all fields, and for some reason, they consider this as not a chance for cooperation, but as rivalry, hostility, and a sort of war in different domains. 

Andriy said, that as it was 8 years ago when Russia occupied Crimea and invaded Donbas, the current war in Ukraine was followed by massive information operations:

 — They put a lot of investments, a lot of capabilities into trying to explain why they were doing that, so the international leaders decided that it was a legitimate operation. And indeed they succeeded in some of the countries, and many European politicians were trying to explain why Russia is doing it, but more importantly, they were trying to find ways to deal with Russia. Russia tried to do the same with this war. But because it was completely unprovoked, completely unexplainable from an international perspective, and particularly followed by all those atrocities and terror, it failed. 

He highlighted that Russia wants to see Ukraine as a dependent nation, which has no freedom outside of Russian influence. That’s why they don’t accept Ukraine integrated into the international democratic world. But like any independent nation, Ukraine wants to live as a democratic nation and there is no compromise on that.

Natalie Jaresko: “Every company that chose to operate in Russia today is acting like Lord Chamberlain in its way”

Natalie Jaresco is the Aspen Institute Kyiv Chairperson and the Minister of Finance of Ukraine (2014-2016). She noticed that many companies continue business in Russia and thus continue paying taxes, which finance and fund the war. And also to finance and fund the war crimes and the war criminals. 

— There is nothing used for the development of the Eastern part of Russia roads, schools. Take a look at what you see outside of Moscow or Saint-Petersburg in terms of the development of the Russian country. It’s nothing used for the economy, it’s nothing used for education. Every company that chose to stay in Russia today to continue paying taxes, to continue financing the war is acting like Lord Chamberlain in its way.   

Natalie thinks that one of the reasons for the full-scale Russian military invasion of Ukraine is that Ukraine is showing it can be successful. 

— Over the last eight years notwithstanding the ongoing war in the Donbas and the illegal occupation and annexation of Crimea, Ukrainian economy was growing, Ukrainian middle class was becoming stronger, and Ukraine IT community was becoming one of the best in the world. Ukraine had enjoyed the freedoms that Russians hadn’t enjoy: freedom of speech, freedom of media, freedom of religion, and freedom of sexual orientation. All of this was happening next to a neighbor, which is part of its imperial mythology and he had to face the fact that Ukraine is becoming a stronger, independent Slavic free democracy. 

Natalie Jaresko stressed that Ukrainian democracy is not without problems, and we still have an enormous amount of work in reforms to do. But we have an incredible civil society, and the country continues to get better and continues to go forward on this path.

We are grateful to the Aspen Institute Mexico for their support and the opportunity to have the dialogue with the Mexico Community.