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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.

It is extremely important to involve the private sector, so that international private capital and modern technologies flow to Ukraine.

We need bilateral business relations.

We need a level of cooperation that has never existed before.

This process has three pillars: planning, coordination and trust.

In terms of planning, we need to get a full understanding of what has been destroyed and what we want to rebuild, in what way, and where. We need to prioritise.

Communication is important. The Ministry of Energy coordinates the processes for the recovery of the energy sector. We rely on the support of a number of international partner organisations.

But the foundation of recovery is trust. Within Ukraine - between society and government. Outside the country - between Ukraine and international partners.

We are living now in a new world, in a world "post February 24th". And this new world calls for new solutions, new approaches.

Today, we are also on the verge of renewing Europe. A Europe that is able to defend its values and principles – if necessary, with weapons in its hands. Europe, which will prove that democracy is stronger and more effective than dictatorship.

I’m sure that everyone present will agree that things happening in Ukraine are not limited by Ukraine’s borders - they resonate across the globe, and the consequences are already experienced in numerous countries due to growing prices and instability, as well as a more pessimistic outlook for the years to come.

That’s why, when talking about how it ends, today every country must find an answer to this question - in terms of food security, fuel prices, stability of financial markets - all links in the same global chain.

And that’s why the question pondered by today’s event is relevant on the other side of the globe from Ukraine, in New Zealand.

And we appreciate you raising this question and stimulating the discussion.

Thank you for your attention!

In the electricity sector, it is especially important for Ukraine to promote electricity exports to EU countries, as an additional stream of revenues. Increased exports can be achieved both through existing interconnections and building new ones.

This will be a boost to the resilience of the Ukrainian energy system, and the European one as well. It will reduce the volume of hydrocarbons for electricity production, and in this way reduce dependence on Russian energy.

Yaroslav Demchenkov is the Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Energy

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Diplosphere's stance.

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