BELGRADE – SERBIA

500+ participants / 80+ speakers / 20+ panels
BSC2023

11-13 OCTOBER / HOTEL HYATT

United Against Aggression – A View from Kyiv

October 27, 2022 by BSC
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Ukraine Under Attack: A View from Kyiv provided robust insights into the current Ukrainian conflict, from a Ukrainian perspective. Iskra Kirova, a Senior Policy Analyst at the Open Society European Policy Institute, guided a discussion addressing the current state of warfighting in Ukraine. Panelists covered a wide range of topics, including Ukrainian faith in democracy, Russia’s evolving strategy, the impact of the war on civil society and the economy, and Ukraine’s relations with the West. 

Mariia Zolkina, the Head of Regional Security and Conflict Studies at the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation, explained Russian aggression from a Ukrainian perspective. Zolkina stressed that the Ukrainian people are resilient and hopeful. For the first time in Ukrainian history, there is full agreement on foreign policy: fully repelling Russia. According to Zolkina, Ukranians are united in understanding the value of democracy, “even in a time of war.” An August opinion poll determined that around 65% of Ukranians supported democracy over a “strong-hand regime,” and that 65% of Ukranians have hope for a better future.  

Mykhailo Samus, Director of New Geopolitics Research Network, explored Russia’s evolving, unconventional tactics. To answer Kirova’s question about the forecast of the war, Mykhailo stated that Putin sees time as his ally. He will use the winter to “freeze” Ukrainian operations, both literally and figuratively, via energy weaponization and attacks on critical infrastructure. Samus mentioned that Russian military units have all been removed from the Finnish border, ostensibly because Russian leadership will never fight with NATO. 

Hlib Vyshlinsky addressed the economic consequences of the current conflict. In the short-term, Vyshlinsky contended that general expectations forecast an economic contraction of roughly 30% in Ukraine. Long-term consequences include an energy crisis, sustained emigration, and continued decreases in consumption and production. 

Liliana Filipchuk, Policy Analyst at the Centre for Society Research, explained that Russian tactics thematically follow those of the Russian empire and the USSR. Filipchuk stressed that Ukrainian civil society organizations are in danger in occupied territories, and that there have been “many casualties” against civil society activists. Fortunately, local governments are now capable of providing greater assistance for civil society organizations, which supplements existing support from international donors.