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Ukraine is winning — and it is changing

Ukraine is winning — and it is changing

by host

Denys Shmyhal is the prime minister of Ukraine.

What will Ukraine’s victory in this war look like?

We often hear this question from our international partners. However, Ukraine is fighting an existential war — a war for  survival. Therefore, Russia’s aggression against our country is a zero-sum game. Russia wants to destroy Ukraine; Ukraine wants to survive. And under these circumstances, it’s difficult to find compromise.

Today, for Ukraine, a stable and just peace is impossible without the implementation of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s ten-point peace plan, restoring the country’s territorial integrity, establishing justice and building a new European security architecture.

The outcome of this war will not only determine how people will live in Ukraine, but also how they will live in the United Kingdom, Germany, Poland, France or Lithuania in the years to come. It is a war for the future of Europe, and for the world order that has been so obviously violated by Russia.

Though few believed it was possible, Ukraine has persevered. More than a year after the big war began, it’s obvious that Russia hasn’t reached its strategic goals, which means Ukraine is winning. But our focus isn’t just on winning the war, it’s also on winning the peace.

So, what does that mean for Ukraine?

For Ukraine, winning the peace means the country must change from within — and it is already doing so. We are talking about the large-scale modernization and transformation of our country. And we believe we should use this reform momentum to lay the foundation for fundamental change.

Currently, Ukraine’s new economic strategy aims to maximize integration with the European Union and the Western world. Despite the war, the number of Ukrainian companies exporting their products to the EU has increased by 20 percent.

Ukraine also wants to embrace friend-shoring. Our goal is to be included in global value chains and develop an export-oriented economy in parallel. And as part of the EU, Ukraine would be able to help Europe meet the big challenges of the 21st century — energy transition, food security, digitalization and securing critical raw materials.

At the moment, Ukraine has deposits of 21 of the 30 rare elements the EU classifies as “critical raw materials;” the second largest gas reserves in Europe; 41.3 million hectares of fine agricultural land; and one of the best developed digital ecosystems. It also has the most important thing — people — qualified, energetic and hard-working.

All these factors, plus the recovery program worth hundreds of billions of dollars, open a window of opportunity for foreign investors and Ukraine’s future economy.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian army is currently one of the strongest in Europe — and certainly the most experienced and battle proven. Ukraine has already concluded agreements and contracts for the construction of new arms and defense factories, and together with its partners, it is already investing billions not only in missiles and tanks but also in the development of sophisticated military technology.

Thus, Ukraine is in a position to significantly strengthen European security as an important asset for the Western alliance — it’s not just a liability.

In addition, over the past 15 months, Ukraine has withstood the biggest attack on a country’s energy system in history. And a multi-year, multi-billion-dollar reconstruction is now on the horizon to not only rebuild but also modernize.

Almost 70 percent of the electricity generated in Ukraine can already be described as clean. Our energy plans are clearly in line with the European Green Deal, and we’re focusing on nuclear generation, hydrogen generation and renewables. Currently, Ukraine’s potential for exporting electricity to the EU is 6 giga-watts, and the country has the potential to become one of the market leaders in hydrogen energy.

At the same time, Ukraine has ambition to become the “gas safe of Europe” too, as it has the largest gas storage facilities on the Continent.

However, the scale of destruction caused by Russian aggression is unprecedented as well. The World Bank estimates that after a year of war, the need for reconstruction is at $411 billion. This means, rebuilding Ukraine will be the largest economic project since World War II.

But our government has already set five priorities for reconstruction this year: energy, housing, demining and critical and social infrastructure.

We have created the architecture for reconstruction, established the relevant state agency and introduced a unified digital management system for the process. The first priority is transparency; the second is to build back better.

And Ukraine’s reconstruction will also give a significant boost to the development of the European economy, creating opportunities for the private sector both in Ukraine and its partner countries.

In order to accomplish this, however, Ukraine needs a new quality of institutions, as it will be impossible to implement other reforms without them.

The Ukrainian government is thus transforming public administration in line with the principles of the EU and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s joint initiative, Support for Improvement in Governance and Management. We are optimizing and digitalizing ministries and departments, reducing the number of civil servants and building a digital state.

Meanwhile, Ukraine continues the course of changing the management system of its state enterprises and assets as well. Despite the war, the state is privatizing hundreds of non-core enterprises and assets, while continuing to reform corporate governance and create independent supervisory boards in strategic enterprises.

Moreover, Ukraine completed the development of an anti-corruption infrastructure this year, and a large-scale, ambitious judicial reform is also on the agenda. It’s important for us that the Group of States against Corruption recognized that we’ve implemented more reforms in this area in the past year alone than in many before.

Ultimately, Ukraine has shown the whole world how bravely it can fight. And now, it will show how it can change, reform and modernize.

This is what victory will look like — a peaceful, prosperous, strong Ukraine that is a member of the EU and of NATO.

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