Photo: The Yalta European Strategy (c) 2013
Lord Risby attended the 11th Yalta European Strategy Annual Meeting in Kyiv
15 September 2014
On 11-13 September 2014, the Chairman of the British Ukrainian Society, Lord Risby, attended the 11th Yalta European Strategy Annual Meeting in Kyiv. Having held discussions with top-level Ukrainian politicians, businessmen and government officials, he offered his insights into the current pressing issues and possible solutions for Ukraine’s crisis.
‘This year, Ukraine has been thrust into the forefront of international news. Here in Kyiv, golden domes illuminate the peaceful splendour of the city under cloudless blue skies. By total contrast, all the TV channels are continuously carrying the death, destruction and mayhem in Eastern Ukraine as their top story. With the backdrop of almost all of Kyiv’s shops having sales signs and erratic hot water supply in the city, Ukraine’s economy slides into deep recession and its currency has been hard hit.
‘Next month there will be parliamentary elections, and after that the implementation programme of the EU Association Agreement will begin, based on a comprehensive domestic Action Plan. A well-educated younger generation of Ukrainians is emerging into public life. They will begin to replace those who so spectacularly failed to build on the spirit of the Orange Revolution. The IMF is now offering further help.
‘Whilst Ukraine’s politicians recognise that there can be no military solution, public support for NATO membership, hugely provocative to Russia, has soared. Indeed, there have been calls for a referendum on NATO membership. What would persuade Putin into a permanent ceasefire and some sort of enduring settlement? An extension of a free trade area or a customs union with Russia itself? A clear indication by Ukraine’s leaders that NATO membership will not be sought?
‘Whatever unfolds in the coming months, one thing Ukraine cannot do is escape its geography. However choosing a national course is the right of any sovereign, independent country. Given their often tragic and tempestuous history, the people of Ukraine deserve none of the horrors which have descended on them.’
By Lord Risby, Chairman of the British Ukrainian Society