top of page

Russia-Ukraine War: Tell us how this ends

By Yaroslav Demchenkov, Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Energy

This speech was given at Diplosphere's panel discussion on Russia-Ukraine War: Tell us how this ends on 23 May 2022, in Wellington. Speakers included Yaroslav Demchenkov, Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Energy (speaking online from Ukraine), Hon Tim Groser, former NZ Ambassador to Washington, H.E. Dr. Zsolt Hetesy, Hungarian Ambassador and H.E. Grzegorz Kowal, Polish Ambassador, chaired by Maty Nikkhou-O'Brien, Founder & Executive Director, Diplosphere

Thank you for inviting me to speak here today.

I’ve never been to New Zealand, always wanted to go - so today is the closest I have gotten to achieving this dream so far.

War is a terrible thing.

Extremely cruel.

War violates international and humanitarian law.

It kills people and destroys infrastructure on which people depend.

Words alone cannot reflect the scale of the destruction. But maybe the figures can give you a better idea.

Such as these:

Since the beginning of this military aggression, the hostilities affected more than two thousand six hundred (2 600) settlements;

More than 20 thousand transformer substations that have been de-energized, and about 4 million Ukrainians have been cut off.

Energy is, without doubt, another frontline in this war.

Losses in Ukraine’s energy sector are already more than 2.5 billion USD. Every month, our losses increase by hundreds of millions of dollars. Ukrainian companies and Ukrainian people need urgent assistance from our allies in the free democratic world.

The war has pushed the Ukrainian economy to the edge of survival or collapse.

The situation is indeed dire. Budget deficit is growing. Destruction is insane. Our international partners become more aware of the scale of this tragedy when they personally come to Ukraine and see everything with their own eyes.

We are not only thinking about how to survive during this war.

In Ukraine, of course, we are thinking a lot about the question you put as a title for today’s discussion. We are confident that this ends with our victory. There is no other way. We know that we are in our right to protect our land, and we feel an overwhelming support and solidarity of the whole civilised world - including New Zealand, and we appreciate this.

Even now, we are thinking about how the current situation can provide momentum for sustainable development of our country.

How the energy of social capital, which we are seeing today, - after the victory, will be used to build a new Ukraine.

The war is changing our country. Zero tolerance for corruption and oligarchs today go beyond simple reforms. This is the key to our survival.

Almost a third of the energy sector in eastern Ukraine is beyond repair.

In many regions, infrastructure is damaged or destroyed.

We do not need to restore it "as it was" - as a Soviet-era legacy with low efficiency that does not match the needs and challenges of the 21st century.

We will not spend time and money to restore objects that became outdated 20 years ago.

We intend to use the latest technology.

We will build on the energy of solidarity and support from our international partners, businesses, in order to rebuild Ukraine as a better, more modern and sustainable version of itself.

This is the only way forward that we see.

I think we are now one step away from a radical restructuring of our economy.

The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy launched a global initiative #United24, meant to unite efforts all around the world to help Ukraine.

It is a platform for sustainable reconstruction of our country.

The funds, which we will be receiving from our international partners, will be directed towards rapidly building new modern infrastructure.