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Former Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s Speech at the BGF Conference “Rebuilding Ukraine”

April 29, 2022

Hello everyone. So pleasured, and I am really honored to address your forum. You know frankly I didn’t expect that we are to discuss the one of the biggest; actually, this is the biggest war after the Second World War in Ukraine, but it happened. Whether I expected that Russia is to invade Ukraine? Yes I do, but whether I expected that Russia will commit this  kind of atrocities and despicable crime in Ukraine? Frankly, no. Because, you know, you can’t have it in your mind; you can’t believe that this could happen in the 21st century. But I believe that we need to diagnose what really happened, and to find the root causes, and to find how to actually rebuild Ukraine, and how to make Ukraine stronger and how to save the free world. So why it happened? The only explanation I have is an absolute ideology of President Putin to restore the Russian empire or even the Soviet empire, an ugly copy of the Soviet empire. You know what happened with Russia and actually with Vladimir Putin, at the heart of this new ideology, which is nuanced? Russia. This is a copycat of Nazi ideology, but Putin already launched this ideology, and this is the bedrock of his ideology and of his country that he imagines. So what Putin wants to achieve?  No doubt that he wants to take over the entire Ukraine. This was his goal in 2004, in 2014, and 2022. He never reached this goal, and he will never reach this goal, but his ultimate goal was to take over Kiev, to take over Ukraine. He failed. What kind of next goals he has already? Actually, Putin wants next Belarus. He wants to exert a special influence over Kazakhstan, and if he wants, Putin he will move further in order to conquer both Georgia and Moldova and to pose a threat to the entire NATO, including Baltic states. So, he wants the collapse of NATO, and he wants to see the decline of the United States and of the free world.  Who is responsible for this kind of war and the atrocities? One can name only Putin. No doubt that Putin is a Nazi style leader, and he personally ordered this kind of aggression against the sovereign Ukraine, but Putin is not the only one. His military, his soldiers, these Russian soldiers that committed crimes against humanity, that committed war crimes, they tortured, raped, killed, kidnapped. So Putin, his cronies, his military, his soldiers, and I want to be very clear even the Russian people, because an overwhelming majority of Russian people support military aggression against Ukraine. Could you just imagine that around 70 percent of Russians, they actually underpin and back Putin’s atrocities against civilians in Ukraine?

Is there any kind of failures on our side? I would say yes. There are, and let me put it blunt, the diplomacy policies of the last two decades actually paved the way for Putin to invade Georgia, to commit war crimes in Syria, to illegally annex Crimea and to invade Ukraine. All this idea how to deter Russia with a new tool of economic and energy integration with the European union, they  failed, and we actually neglected the threats that Putin was very vocal about, in for  example during Munich Security  Conference, when he said about the Soviet  Union, and he was very open, actually saying that he wants to restore the Soviet Union. What kind of goals do we have right now? I mean we as the free world and we as Ukrainians, the most important goal and the crucial  one  is to save Ukraine and to save Ukrainians. Could you imagine that we already have around 12 million of those who fled the country and internally displaced persons?  It is two times the population of Massachusetts. Could you imagine that they are killing innocent people, innocent Ukrainians kids? What is happening right now on the ground is just unbelievable, unimaginable, so the biggest priority and the most  important task is to save Ukraine and to restore charitable integrity of the Ukrainian state. The next priority we have on the table is actually to defend the freedoms in the world and to protect NATO countries, to protect every single EU member state, and to protect every single countryman of the free world, where we are right now.

Ukrainians are fighting like hell. This this is a relentless fight, courageous fight, and the entire world commend men and women in the uniform, those Ukrainians who are fighting and who are actually much stronger than the Russian military. Putin didn’t expect this kind of unity among the Western worlds. The United States already marshaled a kind of strong anti-Putin alliance. It’s similar to anti-Hitler alliance, so we have already an anti-Putin coalition. NATO became stronger and is likely to expand. What we see, we see that Russian military is much weaker than expected. It is completely corrupted, and what we see at the battlefield is that the Ukrainian military, even despite being outnumbered, having less armored vehicles, less heavy weaponry, is stronger. There are some kind of minor territorial gains made by the Russian military, but what is needed, a large-scale counter-offensive of Ukrainian military in order to take back the territories that have been seized by Russia. What needs to be done, no doubt you are well aware of the action plan, that is needed for Ukraine, the most important issue is weaponry, both defensive and offensive heavy weaponry. And once again I command the United States, every single EU membrane state, Baltic states, Czech Republic, everyone, United Kingdom, in the strong and staunch support of Ukrainian people. Sanctions, those are preliminary and secondary sanctions, and we expect that the secondary sanctions will be imposed, and the current sanctions will be registered. We have very plenty of deliberations over the energy embargo. Yeah, I know that some folks project a huge GDP decline, for example in Germany due to energy embargo. Maybe this is to happen in the short run, but in the long run Europe has to realize that you need  to get off the Russian energy hook  because  energy is no longer energy in Russia. This is the weapon and we realized this in 2014, and I was the prime minister who decided to get rid of dependence on the Russian gas problem, and we actually reached the goal. What is needed for Ukraine now, a large-scale financial support. I will give you the numbers. Could you imagine that we are to have around 70 billion US dollars of the budget deficit till the end of this year, so we are running a huge budget deficit, and as for now in order to survive financially and economically, Ukraine needs  to get a very strong financial support  from the free world. The data shows that we already received around 5.2 billion US dollars, but the problem is that only 221 million out of this 5.2 billion dollars are in grants. The rest are the loans that have to be repaid. Ukraine is in a very dire financial situation, so we are not ready to repay this debt in the short run and in the medium run.

In order to offset and to compensate all these losses, I believe that the world has to realize  that we need to craft a new global order, a new global order which allows the  world  to seize and to liquidate Russian assets, an overall amount of Russian assets that  have been frozen by the wealthy is about one trillion dollars, so we urgently need to pass the  legislation which is needed in the  United States, in EU member states, in the United Kingdom, all around the world, in  Switzerland, in order both to seize and  to liquidate these Russian assets and to  send them to Ukraine in order to rebuild  Ukraine. The second very important issue is how to bring to justice those responsible, the current legal system of international criminal court and the international court of justice which is in place is not really effective. So what is needed is a new kind of legal process against Putin, and this is to be one of the primary targets of the free world. This is completely unacceptable to have the P5 member which is Russia that commits atrocities and crimes against humanity in the United Nations, and the UN has urgently to advance itself, to revamp itself, in order to save the global peace and order. And the most important, I would tell you that I believe that Ukraine is to win and to prevail. I am strongly confident, and we will build new Ukraine stronger, Ukraine which is the member of the European Union and NATO, Ukraine with the vibrant democracy, Ukraine with the liberal and effective economic system, Ukraine with no corruption, Ukraine which is a strong member of the free world.

Once again, thank you for a chance to address you, and I want to commend and to tell thank you to every single country that supports Ukraine. This is our joint fight, and we’re going to win this fight. Thank you.