Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Security begins with a strategy

Yevhen MARCHUK: “We need to plan ahead with at least a dozen logical and sequential steps, not with slogans and appeals”
11 April, 2017 - 11:03

The 10th Kyiv Security Forum, organized by Arsenii Yatseniuk’s Foundation “Open Ukraine,” was held on April 6-7 at the Fairmont Grand Hotel. The forum has attracted more than 600 international and Ukrainian leaders and representatives of political, business, and public circles from different countries. Their goal has been the discussion of global security trends and challenges in contemporary international relations. The event is supported by NATO Information and Documentation Center in Ukraine, the Marshall Fund, the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, and the Royal Institute of International Affairs (UK) Chatham House.

President Petro Poroshenko said: “Ukraine needs a Marshall Plan of its own, like the original that once helped rebuild Europe from the ashes. This new plan will confirm that our friends stay with Ukraine.” After the president finished his speech and the event was open, the audience was addressed by the Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Hroisman and Prime Ministers of the Baltic States.

“We are sure that Russia’s actions clearly contradict the Minsk agreements and in no way contribute to peaceful settlement of the conflict,” said Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis at the opening of the forum. “Latvia, as well as the international community, condemns Russian aggression, we support the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.” The prime ministers of the Baltic States reminded that they had their own lessons of history when two big aggressive states had decided the fate of their countries. They are also unanimous in their conviction that maximum assistance should be provided to Ukraine, both in the fight against the aggressor and in the fight against corruption.


Ex-prime minister Arsenii Yatseniuk also inspired the audience, appealing to the Western partners for help with supplying weapons to Ukraine, because we are on the defense of Europe; he also proposed to change the format of NATO to NATO-plus, that is, “NATO and Ukraine.” Yatseniuk recalled that in 2008 Ukraine and Georgia did not receive approval to participate in the Action Plan on NATO membership. Ultimately, the same year Russia attacked Georgia, and six years later – Ukraine. However, the question remains open for the current government, which still has not enacted the legislation to set NATO membership as the ultimate goal.

By the way, the president interrupted the speech of the former prime minister for the sake of a pleasant announcement – the grant of visa-free travel for Ukraine on behalf of the European Union. The moderator of the Forum, presenter of the BBC David Eads joked that after Brexit he would have to think about visas to the EU, while Ukraine had already resolved this issue. The audience took this news with joy, but noted that this was only fair – as Ukraine had abolished visas for the EU countries ten years ago.

Considering that the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine has been going on for three years, the natural question arises: should such powerful meetings be dedicated to a simple discussion or to the development of concrete steps? The meeting was addressed by the director of the National Institute for Strategic Studies Volodymyr Horbulin – he shared his own analysis on the state of things in security; unfortunately, his speech contained no specific algorithms, besides some widely-accepted facts, that could be used to develop a step-by-step strategy of relations with the Russian Federation.


“The Forum has assembled a powerful concentrate of intellectual forces from the European and Ukrainian political elite,” Yevhen Marchuk, chairman of the working subgroup on security issues from Ukraine in the Tripartite Contact Group, commented to The Day. “I hope that this potential will be used at this forum and the event will not be limited to truthful yet declarative statements. Let’s not linger on the platform of banal speeches. The prime minister should honestly tell the audience that we need help in the aspect of planning our behavior. We need a strategic plan for five, ten years. We will not be able to distance from Russia in the geographical sense. Over the past year – apart from justified statements that condemn Russia’s actions – I did not see any proposal at the highest, strategic level of state policy. We have institutes, in particular that for strategic studies, but I do not see any serious analyses on Russia, except for assessing its aggressiveness.”

“But what’s next?” Yevhen Marchuk asks himself. “Uncertainty begets nonsense, like the proposals to go to war against Russia. This would be foolish. We need to plan ahead with at least a dozen logical and sequential steps, not populist slogans and appeals. It is necessary to take into account all the components of the Russian essence. That’s why we were stalled on trivial matters like the blockade of the railway. But what did the authorities do in this respect? The authorities did not think of anything better than to lead this blockade. It turns out, they first allowed amateurs to carry out the blockade, which caused bewilderment in Ukraine, and then they took it over, which caused misunderstanding among Western partners. All this stems from lack of strategy and of understanding of the situation. I can see that the authorities are busy with current affairs and cannot spare the effort to develop such a strategy, but in such cases every large structure should have allocated a separate group to focus on such issues, free from the current routine. For example, it can be seen that Arsenii Yatseniuk has rested, freed himself from the routine that invariably burdened him as prime minister, and was able to set a new tone for the meeting with concrete proposals. This is what I expect from Kyiv Security Forum.”

By Valentyn TORBA, photos by Artem SLIPACHUK, The Day