Three years after the beginning of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Oleh Shamshur, Ukraine’s Ambassador in Paris, explains the situation. In his opinion, Ukraine is more determined than ever to move closer to Europe.
Three years ago, the life of the Ukrainian people overturned. Fueled by European ideals of democracy, strength of civil society in Ukraine toppled the regime of Viktor Yanukovych. During the agony this criminal regime, more than 100 participants of the Maidan were shot.
The further we are removed from the events of February 2014, the better we understand the extent to which these days were momentous for Ukraine and for the whole of Europe. Independence enshrined our faith in a European choice. But Russia was unable to accept the assertion of the Pro-European course so close to its borders. Little did we know that very soon Russia annexed Crimea and sent weapons to Donbass to unleash a terrible war.
The result of these three years, the Russian aggression in Crimea and Donbas staggering: more than ten thousand deaths, about two million refugees, destroyed infrastructure, a grave humanitarian situation, systematic violations of human rights by the occupying forces. In fact, Ukraine has lost 41 thousand square kilometers of its territory with millions of inhabitants, which is comparable with Switzerland.
In recent days, the resumption of firing in the Donbass reminds once again that the war determines the rhythm of life of the population.
Thus, Ukraine must now fight for their survival. In spite of everything, the Ukrainian state is more consistent and cohesive than ever. Despite the huge challenges facing Ukraine, she is determined to continue deep reforms in the conditions of Russian aggression. Despite the fact that the implementation of these reforms is difficult because of the war, they are a powerful tool to fight the aggressor.
In order to build a modern European Ukraine, the Ukrainian government, whose ranks are replenished with new strong frames, rebuilt the work of public institutions, which became transparent and credible. For three years we have taken more steps than in the previous twenty-three years.
However, the success of reforms depends on how effective will be the fight against corruption, which is our priority. Was adopted more stringent law to prevent cases of corruption. But the important thing is that the mechanism of the fight against corruption was launched and is producing real results. The national anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine, created in accordance with the highest international standards, is investigating about 200 cases. According to preliminary data of the investigation, the stolen funds are estimated at several million euros.
Who would have thought that the system of state orders, traditionally regarded as a Bastion of corruption, is currently recognized as one of the best and most transparent in the world? Government Prozorro platform established in 2015, became the winner in the framework of the Partnership for open government in December last year in Paris.
Who would have thought that one day Ukraine will be able to afford not to buy Russian gas? Contracts with European suppliers has enabled Ukraine to diversify gas supplies. In 2013 the share of Russian gas import to Ukraine amounted to 92%, and in 2015 only 37%. And finally, from November 2015, Ukraine stopped importing Russian gas.
This process of internal change in the country is based on a strong and independent civil societies who were born on the Maidan. In other words, it is a real engine of change and support democratic Ukraine. In 2014, the will and the courage of the Ukrainian people, across generations and borders, have shocked Europe.
Ukraine believes in the support of their European allies and in the success of diplomatic and political efforts, as well as in military-technical cooperation to counter Russian expansion. We hope that the EU will strengthen a common front for the preservation of anti-Russian sanctions and thereby confirms the importance of respect for international law in the face of challenges to collective security on its borders.
We intend to use all available resources to build a strong Alliance with Europe. The success of the European project will largely depend on how the situation will develop in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian state — independent key player in the international arena. It is Ukraine, whose territorial integrity and independence are protected and whose policy reforms can become the Herald of the democratic ideals that underpin modern Europe.
While the number of eurosceptics is increasing in Europe, the revolution on the Maidan demonstrated the power of European values. The Ukrainian people have reminded those who doubted that the ideals of freedom, solidarity and democracy should be protected with pride.