Five crucial lessons for the world and Ukraine

2023-11-04 14:22:56

A roundtable conference titled "Russian-Ukrainian War. Lessons for Europe and the World" took place at the Academic Council of the National Pedagogical Dragomanov University on November 3. It was organized by the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Peace Council.

The round table brought together scientists, educators, cultural figures, diplomats, representatives of Ukrainian NGOs, as well as members of the UPF delegation from France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and representatives from two UN organizations – UNIDO and UNESCO.


In one of forthcoming articles, we will tell you more about the discussion of this important topic at the international round table. In the meantime, we present the speech delivered by Mykhailo Zgurovsky, Head of the Ukrainian Peace Council and Rector of the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, which aroused the discussion.


Dear friends, ladies, and gentlemen! Firstly, on behalf of the Ukrainian Peace Council, I extend a sincere welcome to the participants in the international roundtable and our foreign colleagues - representatives of the governing bodies of the Universal Peace Federation: Mr. Jacques Marion, Dr. Dieter Schmidt, Dr. Juraj Lajda, Ms. Chantal Komagata and Mr. Afsar Rator, Head of UNIDO Projects.

I express my special thanks to our guests for overcoming numerous difficulties and coming to us at this challenging time for Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Peace Council and the Universal Peace Federation have been cooperating on peacemaking initiatives and numerous joint projects for nearly two decades. There is no doubt that this cooperation has contributed to the development of friendly relations between Ukraine and peoples worldwide, who join their efforts in striving to live in peace and harmony, to form a philosophy of non-violence, tolerance and mutual understanding. I personally cherish my memories of my visit to Sun Moon University in Seoul at the invitation of the Universal Peace Federation.

It is worth noting that the Ukrainian Peace Council has been actively disseminating the idea of peaceful coexistence among peoples, nations and religious denominations for 73 years. We have called for the settlement of emerging conflicts by diplomatic means in order to preserve peace and harmony in society.

Regrettably, however, russia started an unprovoked war against Ukraine on February 24, 2022, violating international law and the established international order since the end of World War II in 1945.

The people of Ukraine rallied in defense of their country. The Ukrainian Peace Council stood shoulder to shoulder with its people for the sake of victory over the aggressor. Guided by international legal acts and Ukraine’s national policy, our organization adopted the action program for the period of martial law, based on the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s ‘Ukrainian Formula for Peace’, during its report-back election conference on April 12, 2023.

The main fundamental point of this formula is the achievement of a just peace in Ukraine, based on the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of our country. This theme took center stage in a series of meetings of security advisors in Copenhagen (Denmark) in June, Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) in August, and Malta in late October.

Ukraine has been supported by the democracies across the globe, forming a strong coalition. However, the war in Ukraine has been going on for twenty months. It became a trigger for the war in the Middle East and offered a potential opportunity to dictators in other parts of the world to fan the flames of violence, bringing us all closer to the catastrophe of World War III.

It is important to understand why international security guarantors have failed, and what lessons this new geopolitical situation in the world teaches us. I would like to highlight some of the most important of these lessons.

Lesson #1. A powerful attempt was made on the paradigm of a new just world. Established by the Yalta Declaration in 1945, this paradigm was based on respect for the law, recognition of human freedom and life as the highest value, along with recognition of national sovereignty and the inviolability of the existing borders.

Lesson #2.The United Nations, represented by the UN Security Council, which was established to keep and secure peace, is unable to resolve problems that undermine the international order. This crisis is based on the UN’s institutional incapacity to fulfill its most important function - guaranteeing the maintenance of international peace. The inability to make important decisions is also inherent in the European Union and the OSCE.

Lesson #3. Today, russia's nuclear blackmail is becoming louder, and there are constant threats to Ukraine and its allies to carry out tactical nuclear strikes. Strategic Missile Forces training exercise last week. The definition of the NATO bloc as russia's chief enemy. This is a clear signal to the whole world that russia is not only waging a war against Ukraine, but it has started a civilizational war against the democratic world, and that it is only a matter of time before its citizens are drawn into this confrontation.

Lesson #4. The collective West's sanctions against russia have proven ineffective. By taking a complex of measures to evade these sanctions, russia has managed to increase its military budget to 3.6% of GDP in 2023 and is targeting 6% of GDP in 2024. Reorientation from European to large Asian markets has enabled russia to bolster its sovereign wealth fund as well as its gold and foreign exchange reserves. All this allowed it to quickly reorganize its economy along war lines, and to put the country on the path of prolonged war. Studies indicate that russia will be capable of maintaining military operations at the same level for the next 4-5 years.

Lesson #5. Fearing further escalation of the war, the collective West provides metered, limited military and political aid to Ukraine, hoping that having satisfied itself with the capture of a part of Ukraine or even the complete destruction of the Ukrainian state and nation, moscow will leave the democratic world in peace. However, as General Valery Zaluzhnyi, Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces, put it in the Economist weekly, the war becomes positional and prolonged. In consideration of russia's many-fold superiority in resources, Ukraine will irreversibly lose the war of attrition within two to three years. Revisiting the Munich Agreement of 1938, we must remember that after gobbling one victim, the aggressor's appetite for the next increases significantly. Next may come the turn of European countries, with even greater human losses and destruction, which are unacceptable in the 21st century.

What could be the next steps of the international community aimed at preserving and safeguarding peace on earth? In our opinion, the key actions are as follows:

1. The veto, which was introduced, during the establishment of the UN Security Council, to protect one member of this organization in the event of a conspiracy against it by all the others, has now become an instrument of aggression by one violator of the rules of the international order against the entire democratic world. Therefore, the proposal of President Zelenskiy and some other world leaders to reform the UN by stripping the aggressor of its veto right is the only possible way to restore its real status as a guarantor of global peace.

2. The European Union and the OSCE are currently facing a similar problem. They have to take a new step to create a new world - to get rid of consensus as a prerequisite for all decisions in favor of voting by the majority of countries.

3. Of course, russia in the UN, and Hungary and Slovakia in the EU have to vote for such reforms, which they will obviously obstruct. A vicious circle is emerging. Then the world will be faced with the need for radical changes in the global security architecture: countries that do not agree with evil must leave old organizations that are unable to stop war, such as the UN, and establish new ones.

4. How to end the war in Ukraine? Is it possible to do so on the battlefield, or can the problem be resolved diplomatically in the new geopolitical circumstances? Is there an ideological basis for such a settlement? If so, what is it? The same questions arise in relation to wars and armed conflicts in the Middle East, Yemen, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Congo, and in 20 other parts of the world. It is becoming clear that the prolongation of these hot spots is leading to their globalization. Humanity is facing a new challenge - the search for a new, effective security architecture.

This challenge is the primary focus for the Universal Peace Federation, the Ukrainian Peace Council, and many other peacemaking organizations. We believe that the efforts of the Universal Peace Federation aimed at reconciliation and cooperation among religious leaders of different countries and faiths are one of the important ways of overcoming the fundamental crisis that has arisen. We should reflect and work on this together.

Thank you for your attention!

Source ...


Speech by Prof. Valerii Tsybukh,

H.E. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary,

Deputy Head of the international NGO Environmental Safety Council,

entitled "Environmental Consequences of the Russia-Ukraine War"

at the round table "Russian-Ukrainian War. Lessons for Europe and the World"

November 3, 2023.


Dear Colleagues.


It is my privilege to present the appeal of the Environmental Security Council, the international non-governmental organization comprising scientists, politicians and government officials, during our third panel discussion. I will outline our vision of the environmental consequences arising from the Russia-Ukraine war.


Firstly, I would like to endorse the insights (lessons) drawn from this terrible war by Academician Mykhailo Zgurovsky, Head of the Ukrainian Peace Council, and Academician Vasyl Kremen, President of the National Academy of Educational Sciences of Ukraine.


Over nearly two years of the war (and another eight years of russian aggression in eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea), ecocide has unfolded against people, animals, birds, and the environment: forests, reservoirs, environmental parks, nuclear power plants, chemical industries, and more.


Today, it is also a matter of environmental safety and our common future, because, as we know, there are no borders within the ecosystem.


Russia's war in Ukraine is the first international conflict in recent years causing great and irreparable damage to the environment.


The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine cites horrifying statistics.


The russian aggressor has caused damage to our country in the amount of 2.3 trillion hryvnias (some $600 billion) during the war.


The aggressor's actions threaten to destroy 2.5 million hectares of the network of Europe's protected conservation areas.


Europe's biodiversity is being decimated by enemy combat equipment. These are thousands of plant species listed in the Red Book of Ukraine and protected by law. Combat operations disturb the serenity of wild animals. They either die or try to flee from hot spots.


Hostilities are destroying Ukraine's forests, which will also affect global food security.


Russia has fired more than 3,500 missiles at Ukraine since February 24. The enemy shells, which hit our critical infrastructure and residential buildings on a daily basis, cause quite significant fires, including forest fires.


This leads to significant air pollution by hazardous substances.


Pollution from shelling knows no borders; polluted air also knows no borders.


Emissions in the air caused by the armed aggression of the russian federation in Ukraine travel, settle and have an impact on the territory of other countries, sometimes at a distance of thousands of kilometers.


Mine-strewn areas is another issue. Landmine explosions lead to the pollution of soil with heavy metals such as lead, strontium, titanium, cadmium and nickel. This makes the soil dangerous and, in some cases, unsuitable for further agricultural use.


The pollution of rivers due to russian aggression may also affect neighboring countries.


These figures and facts are shocking, because the current war is an unprecedented case of damage to the Ukrainian environment, which cannot be compared even with the damage caused during World War II.


Then on blowing up the Oskil reservoir dam:


The Oskil reservoir is one of the ten largest in Ukraine in terms of area and volume. In October, its dam was partly blown up for the second time since February (near the village of Oskil, Kharkiv region): the explosion was triggered by russians fleeing from Ukraine's armed forces. The water of the Oskil reservoir was supplied to residents of Donetsk and partly Luhansk regions, and the Russians left part of the population without water, causing another ecological disaster.


Blowing up the Kakhovka reservoir dam by invaders.


The Kakhovka hydroelectric plant in the Kherson region, part of the United Energy System of Ukraine, provided peak load coverage, frequency and power regulation, and a mobile emergency reserve, as a critical facility for Ukraine's infrastructure security.


This means a lack of both safe drinking water and water for agriculture, as the Kakhovka irrigation system, which provides water to the entire south of the country, is under threat.


Mass death of dolphins in the Black Sea.


The Black Sea is home to three species of dolphins, all of which are listed in the Red Book. About 20,000 dolphins die there every year. The reason for the abnormal amount of dolphin deaths is the presence of Russian warships in the waters, which generate powerful sonar interference.


Oil spills also play a tragic role. According to the official resource of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine, EkoZagroza (EcoThreat), 11,000 tons of petroleum products have been spilled into the waters during the war.


An unintended consequence is the death of birds. At present, the bare bottom of the Kakhovka reservoir is covered with birds. So far, environmentalists cannot explain what triggered this, but among the probable causes of the deaths are loud noises of explosions, which often lead to the heartbreak and death of animals.


Destruction of biosphere reserves.


Twenty percent of nature reserves have already been affected by the war over nearly two years of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.


Total laying of explosive mines on territories and damage to the soil.


Thirty percent of the entire territory of Ukraine is contaminated with mines. This is about twice the size of Austria. According to experts' estimates, it will take decades to clear mines from the territories. Experts predict that the mine clearance will take at least 50 years and a maximum of 750 years to complete...


In addition, it is important to highlight soil pollution and areas covered with craters after shelling.


Global consequence: barbaric extraction of natural resources.


Forest burning and fires resulted in nearly 50 tons of harmful air emissions.


Moreover, at least 23,300 hectares of forests have been burned to ashes.


Physical destruction of cities.


Firstly, this leads to the generation of huge amounts of waste, and secondly, it requires even more natural resources for reconstruction. We will need a lot of resources to rebuild the city of Chernihiv, as well as cities and towns in the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions.


Discussing the consequences of the war, we can single out individual events, but most of the consequences have long-term damage. They need to be analyzed comprehensively, and that is why it is important to ponder how current events will affect the future.


At the moment, it is impossible to predict all possible consequences and determine the final environmental damage caused by russian aggression. One thing is for sure, it will take decades to recover. And we cannot do it without the help of international partners.


In our opinion, it is important to unite the efforts of the public at large to implement the Ukrainian Formula for Peace, its ten points, including its environmental focus (the eighth point of the Formula: Prevention of Ecocide).


We look to our friends from the Universal Peace Federation for support and joint actions, as evidenced by today's meeting, the round table, and our networking.


We continue to work for our common future!