Statement: Appeasement will not bring peace to Ukraine
18 February 2020, 15:15


The statement was initially published on the KyivPost web-site.


Editor’s Note: The following is a statement from a group of seven former Munich young leaders from Ukraine in response to a 12-point “peace plan” of the Euro-Atlantic Security Leadership Group. 

The new phenomenon of “Westlessness” was defined as a key global challenge by the Munich Security Conference 2020. It might be described as deficit of engagement and leadership by the Euro-Atlantic Community in confronting the world’s most serious challenges.

The “12 steps toward greater security in Ukraine and the Euro-Atlantic region” that was disseminated at the Feb. 14-16 forum in Germany may serve as an illustration of this description.

The way to peace and long term security for Ukraine an Europe is not through the mirage of half-truths, but through the application of international law and upholding the United Nations Charter. Anything less is bound to fail.

1. Definitions matter: it is aggression and international war. Not ‘conflict in and around Ukraine’

 The plan “forgot” the real causes and circumstances of the war in Donbas and the annexation of Crimea. Instead, the paper describes the situation in Ukraine as a “conflict in and around Ukraine.’ A wrongful examination and diagnosis lead to the wrong prescription. In fact, indirectly it suggests that we replace international law and our cherished legal mechanisms for resolving the international armed conflict with damaging concessions at the cost of the occupied state. Peace resting on the weakness of a victim of the aggression is hardly worthy of that name.

2. Peace in Ukraine can be built only under the leadership of the Government and strong support of the Ukrainian society

How can a plan that failed to take into account the views of the Ukrainian government and Ukrainian society be legitimate? It is important to note that President Volodymyr Zelensky rejected this plan during his speech at the conference. And the Ministry for Foreign Affairs criticized it as not relevant. To distribute it at the conference with no consideration for potential damage to Ukraine’s negotiating positions with its partners and opponents was wrong.

3. The unspoken of the ‘peace plan’: neutrality of Ukraine will not work

It seems that the authors of the plan willfully ignored the strategic course of Ukraine’s European Union and NATO integration incorporated into our Constitution. The idea of neutrality is a non-starter in a country where a whole generation grew up with the notion of Ukraine eventually joining the EU and where the support of the NATO membership rose from 15% to around 50% over the last six years. In fact, our EU and NATO integration is the best answer to Russian aggression. The better Ukraine is integrated with EU and NATO, the stronger it is. The unspoken geopolitical neutrality of Ukraine is just an invitation for Russia to the old-new era of the “spheres of legitimate interests.”

Eventually, Ukraine’s EU and NATO integration is our answer to the “Westlessness.” Between “the force of law” in the West and “the law of force” in Russia, Ukraine chooses Western values. There can be no neutrality or middle ground in this matter.

4. Sanction relief must be contingent upon Russia’s conduct: it must end the occupation of Ukrainian land and the imprisonment of Ukraine’s citizens.

The Paris agreement of Dec. 19 didn’t bring any cease-fire. Instead, 13 Ukrainians — soldiers, medical workers — have been killed since the beginning of this year. In violation of the Minsk Agreement, we observe Moscow’s continued “passportization” in the occupied territories. Isn’t it acknowledgment and a clear formalization of the Donbas occupation? Western sanctions were not sufficient but they were the most efficient instrument in counteracting Russian aggression against Ukraine. There can be no lifting of sanctions whilst Russia continues to violate international law.

5. Ukraine’s identity – its a cause for Ukrainians. Period

The recommendation of the “peace plan” to launch a dialogue about Ukrainian identity that involves Russia rewards the aggressor. It rehearses the Russian narrative of the legitimacy of its dominance in the region and lays the ground of its ‘right’ to interfere (even militarily) in its neighbor’s national life.

Ukraine has defined its identity and has chosen to be a democratic European country on its way to tackling corruption and the creation of a modern prosperous state with rule of law and respect to human rights. The notion that Ukraine’s identity has to be discussed with Russia, whose authorities sanction the killing and torturing of Ukrainian soldiers, the unfair imprisonment of political prisoners, and the brutalization of Crimean Tatars, is in complete contradiction with those aims and aspirations.

Ukraine wants nothing more than to restore its internationally recognized borders by diplomatic and political means and has shown its willingness for dialogue, especially with those able to see the difference between truth and propaganda, peace and appeasement. If the price of sovereignty and territorial integrity is the forgiveness of aggression, then the price is unacceptable.


Alyona Getmanchuk
Founder and director
New Europe Center
Munich Young Leader 2010

Hanna Hopko
Ph.D. in Social Communications
Chairwoman of National interests advocacy network “ANTS”
Сhairwoman of zero corruption conference (
Munich Young Leader 2016

Daria Kaleniuk
Executive Director
Anticorruption Action Centre
Munich Young Leader 2019

Oleksii Riabchyn
Deputy Minister of Energy and Environmental Protection of Ukraine
Member of Parliament (2014-2019)
Munich Young Leader 2018

Olexander Scherba
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Munich Young Leader 2011

Svitlana Zalishchuk
Foreign Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ukraine
Member of Parliament (2014-2019)
Munich Young Leader 2017

Igor Zhovkva
Deputy Chief of Staff to the President of Ukraine
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Munich Young Leader 2015

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