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Andriy Yermak speech at the Securing Europe panel in the framework of the World Economic Forum in Davos


Thank you for the honor of opening this meeting. It’s dedicated to one of the most pressing issues in today’s world.

The panel is focused on securing Europe. I am here as an official Ukraine’s representative. No more doubts, obviously. Ukraine is Europe. Shame, it took eight years for Europeans to realize it. In those eight years the world order shattered, the political map was illegally changed, tens of thousands of people died and millions more had to escape.

However, despite all the crimes Russian soldiers committed in Bucha, Mariupol, Chernihiv, and dozens of other locations, we keep hearing calls for capitulation for the sake of peace in Europe. Some of our partners are still suggesting us to give in to the aggressor to save lives. Negotiations on so-called territorial disputes are proposed.

How can one believe it when Russia shows outright intention to destroy Ukraine? How can one hope for it while Russian opinion leaders are calling Ukrainians, us, the wrong Russians? How can one expect it, given the numerous testimonies of acts of genocide against Ukrainians committed by Russian troops?

Ukraine does not have any territorial disputes with Russia. Russia has simply occupied and tried to annex Ukrainian territories. Illegally. Absolutely.

More than anyone, we strive for a balanced and rational dialogue. However, Russia’s political culture does not provide for a dialogue on equal terms. Its basis is dictation. The language of brute force.

More than anyone in the world, we seek peace. But it should be just. Our sovereignty and territorial integrity are not subject to compromise. We are dealing with ideologies and practices terribly alike the worst dictatorships of the last century. History teaches us that pacifying an aggressor is futile. They always take peacefulness for weakness. They demand more with every next concession.

Therefore, there is only one way to prevent the war in Ukraine from escalating into a continental and even world war: help Ukraine win. Now, you don’t have to wage this war. Just help us do it. Otherwise, you’ll have to. You’ll have to send your troops to the battles.

Helping Ukraine is a way to resolve the contradiction between values policy and realpolitik. This is a way to send a clear signal to potential aggressors: their actions will not go unpunished.

So, Ukraine’s immediate goal is to stop Russia’s brutal aggression and ensure the complete withdrawal of its troops from our lands.

Then, we must find a reliable way to deter Russia from repeating aggression in the future. But the world order is nearly wrecked and shattered. The UN is semi-paralyzed with Russia’s presence in the Security Council. The OSCE has lost its raison d’etre. NATO is the only institution capable of providing a reliable security umbrella to its members. But some of the Allied nations still allow Russia to veto Ukraine’s accession. So, we have to take an alternative path. 

Today, I’m glad to announce here in Davos that together with the former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen we’re establishing an international advisory working group. Its aim is to make some recommendations for reliable and efficient security guarantees for Ukraine. Leading figures from security, policy and diplomacy as well as scientists will be invited to join in and contribute. We look forward to involving the friends of Ukraine who can offer their expertise and experience to efficiently implement the initiative. Our goal is to stop history from repeating and prepare the future for a sovereign and free Ukraine. 

Given the Budapest Memorandum experience, we assume that the future agreement should contain security guarantees, not assurances. This is very important.

No third parties’ security obligations can fully substitute for Ukraine developing and sustaining its own strong defense capabilities.

So, the first block of security guarantees is related to enhancing Ukraine’s ability to resist aggression.

To ensure Ukraine’s defense capabilities, the guarantor states should provide our Armed Forces with modern conventional weapons and military equipment. No restrictions nor politically motivated bars. We need weapons to defend. We must be able to withstand any aggression. Since February 24, nearly seven hundred Ukrainian children have been killed, tortured, raped, and wounded by the Russian troops. Those are we know of for sure. So, the toll is probably much higher. Over two hundred and thirty thousand kids were deported to Russia. We must be able to protect our children. They have the right to live in a safe country, and we are to ensure that right.

As part of their commitment, partners could help us in the fields of intelligence sharing, information security, cyber security, maritime security.

We believe that rapid recovery of defense potential of Ukraine is one of important factors in preventing the new possible aggression. Russia has badly damaged our economy. And we can’t put enough money into defense in the coming years. So, we’ll need annual financial aid. For reconstruction purposes as well as for financing the security and defense.

The next block of security guarantees is sanctions. They are an effective tool for stopping Russian aggression today and deterring it in the future. The current sanctions should last at the very least until the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine. Their mitigation and lifting should be agreed with the Government of Ukraine. We should consider the risk of restoring Russia’s military-technical potential.

We also believe that guarantees of imposition of preventive sanctions should also be provided in case of a real threat to our state. And, of course, in the event of aggression immediate and coordinated sanctions should be provided.

The final bloc of security guarantees is related to political and diplomatic support of Ukraine. Embedding Ukraine in multilateral diplomatic processes would improve our integration with the international community. First of all, it’s about Ukraine’s joining the European Union as soon as possible. I need to emphasize we don’t think the so-called alternative formats of integration are acceptable here.

Ukraine also supports the establishment of a coalition of responsible states like “Friends of Ukraine” or “Anti-War Coalition U-24”, which will be ready to effectively respond to violations of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within 24 hours.

This means providing the necessary military and military-technical, financial and humanitarian aid, as well as imposing sanctions against the aggressor country within 24 hours.

When it comes to security guarantees for ourselves, we are not asking. We offer our partners to invest in common security. First, European. In the future, this system could become the basis of a new global security architecture.

Thanks for your time