Ruslan Osypenko, diplomat
If we rely on foreign aid for the rest of our lives, we will lose
14.12.2023 21:50

"Lidiya Taran asks" is a new video project of Ukrinform, where the journalist and host will discuss topical issues with guests. For the first conversation, Lidiya Taran invited diplomat and international expert Ruslan Osypenko, who was asked what Ukraine should expect from the upcoming meeting of the Council of Europe in Brussels.

- Hello, friends. Today we are going to talk about the intricacies of international politics in our video blog. And our focus is on the European Council meeting, of course, in Brussels on December 14-15. This is the time of "C" for Ukraine, when a lot is at stake, when, among other issues, perhaps the most important one from a political point of view, the issue of starting negotiations on joining the EU will be decided. I, Lidiya Taran, invited Ruslan Osypenko, a diplomat and expert on international relations, to join us for this conversation.

Mr. Ruslan, I will formulate the first question as it is formulated here, where I am, by French publications. "Limont wrote itself the question "Is Europe ready to take responsibility?". And I would divide the question of responsibility into the following 3 contexts: political responsibility, financial responsibility, and military responsibility, i.e., all this military aid that we need. Shall we try to do this?

- Let's try it.

- So, what about Europe's responsibility? Because although Ukraine claims that the Europeans are at great reputational risk if they suddenly do not agree to negotiate, it seems to me that this is a more Ukrainian position, that they will support this issue, and now the start of negotiations, or not, is a major issue for us, but not so much at stake for them. Is this true or not?

- I think this is a wrong assessment. In fact, all these events in Europe are extremely important for them as well. Europe does not act alone. It is acting in a political context in the scenarios that are being drawn up in the world. What do we see in the world today? We see that Russia, Europe's former partner, challenged Western civilization in December of '21 when it said that it wanted to redistribute spheres of influence to the 1997 line because it was not satisfied with its place in international relations. It considered itself a civilization, second only to the United States, and wanted to negotiate this division. With the Europeans, it wanted to build a unified security system from Lisbon to Vladivostok from a position of strength. And here, having challenged the United States, it received an extraordinary reputational blow from Ukraine, because it was unable to capture Ukraine, as it had planned, in three days. It demonstrated its military weakness. And on the basis of this military weakness, the entire foreign and domestic policy was built, because the domestic policy did not pay attention to the development of Russia itself, to industrialization there. It focused on geopolitical games for spheres of influence. And now that it has received a blow to this key component, on which this entire personalistic vertical of power is based, Russia has undoubtedly lost its superpower status. It became not even a regional power, but a rogue state. And this prompted it to set the whole world on fire to demonstrate that it is still an influential international power, that it has influence in different regions and can at least create conflicts and regulate them. We have seen this in the conflict in Syria, Libya, the coups of the Wagner PMC in Africa, where emigration flows were formed that actually covered Europe. It set the Middle East on fire together with Iran. It can set the Korean Peninsula on fire with North Korea. It has initiated pressure on Europe in the underbelly of geopolitics in Europe through Serbia and its problems with Kosovo, and many other things. It has even reached into the underbelly of the United States of America, with Venezuela, which wants to seize part of the neighboring state.

- The role of Russia is clear. To what extent has Europe prepared to meet it? And to what extent has Europe declared its unwavering support? Support can be different, and this time Europe is formulating its support as unwavering support. But to what extent is Europe seriously united and in solidarity with all these risks that it has received, is receiving, in the geopolitical aspect? Because Russia's policy is absolutely obvious to us and to the world. But to what extent is Europe ready to give a political and economic response to it?

- Let's see together how ready she is to respond. Russia's plan was to undermine Ukraine, to break down European solidarity as an asset, and to undermine or engage the United States in discussions in order to cut off aid and divide this Euro-Atlantic unity, the foundation on which Ukraine's strength against Russia has been built. Did the Russians succeed in undermining European solidarity? From my point of view, they have succeeded because Orban is doing his job, Fico has emerged and is following his lead, and such micro-coalitions are being created in Europe. And Europe has plunged into a discussion. Europe will also now be electing. The year 24 is an election year, and Europe will elect the extreme right and the extreme left. Why? Because Putin prepared the conditions for this and contributed to it by directing, as I said, emigration flows from the Middle East and Africa. The Europeans could not agree on the distribution of quotas, how to settle, how to care for these migrants, how to stop these flows. In the wake of this, European societies demanded the extreme right, which came to power, as in the Netherlands. Well, Germany is next, Italy is next, and other countries are next, because they offer quick solutions to reverse these migration flows and send these migrants back home. And this is all prepared by Putin, and it is not in line with the European values that they claimed, human rights, equality, fraternity, which is what France also says. Did Putin succeed in breaking this solidarity? Yes, he has. There is a discussion in the United States. If earlier the Ukrainian issue united, was supported, there was bipartisan and bicameral support, now it is divisive. This issue prevents agreement even on domestic political issues. Did he achieve change by force at this point? Yes, he has. The only thing he failed to do was to break, to shake Ukraine. There were some injections about the political command, a problem with the military command, something else, some information waves and IPSOs. But so far, thank God, they have not succeeded in shaking Ukraine. Nevertheless, he sowed wars and arson all over the horizon around Europe. And today Europeans have come to the conclusion that they need to expand. They have not expanded for 20 years, and now they have decided to expand. Why did they decide to do so? Because the risks of not expanding are greater than the risks of absorbing Ukraine and the Balkan countries, because Russia uses this as a tool of pressure. It is using these tools to spear Europeans. They are forced to stretch their resources to resolve the issue of the Ukrainian-Russian war, the confrontation between Serbia and the Balkan and other countries. It is easier to absorb these countries and bring them to a single democratic level than to keep them in the corridor and allow Russia to use them as a lever of pressure on Europe.

- So they absorbed Hungary. And now we have Hungary, and we have Fico in Slovakia. Why can't the European Union, and these are the member states of the European Union, control their own leaders, although they should be united and unwavering in their support for Ukraine, realizing all the geopolitical risks? Is it really impossible within the European Union (and everyone repeats many times that it is Hungary that receives funds from the European Union, it is not a donor country, it is a country that receives aid from the European Union) to find leverage, so to speak, to control either Orban or Fico?

- I can see that they are looking for such a government, as they say. But they, the democrats, follow the rules to the letter. Even when they are being led to hang, when they are about to be destroyed, they still discuss the rules and regulations, how to go about it, how to go about it wrong, and all in discussions. Because democracy is about finding common ground. And this is a weaker side than... regimes where one person said, as in the Mongolian political authorities, and everyone fell to their knees and crawled in the direction indicated by this leader, the emperor. So here the Democrats are losing a little bit. But, as I see it, they have started two processes. The first process is expansion. And in terms of enlargement, they say that if the European Union is expanding, then the internal rules must be changed. And I think that changing the internal rules means changing the rules of unanimous voting, for example. To move away from the fact that one country can hold the entire European Union hostage on issues that are of vital interest to the European Union. I think these processes will go hand in hand. And, unfortunately, given this, I have to say that the vote will be unsuccessful for us in December, because the rules have not been changed, and the Democrats do not change them so quickly. There is no leverage.

- Orban will not be convinced, and neither will Fico.

- No. This is not Orban's position, this is Moscow's position. The fact that Orbán is sending a delegation to the United States on the Ukrainian issue. This suggests that Moscow is working through Orban to resolve its issues of keeping Ukraine out of the EU. When did Orbán care about our issues so much that he paid for a delegation to go to convince American congressmen on the Ukrainian issue?

- He is concerned about the Hungarian minority in Ukraine and its rights.

- Look. I am giving a counterargument. We went ahead and changed the law on national minorities and education when we did not want to change it. We removed the OPT Bank from the list of banks that favor Moscow, we did everything he demanded. He is still not convinced. Because this is not his position. He is broadcasting Moscow's position today. And Moscow is using all its agents that it has brought there, it is burning them, but the issue is extremely important to prevent Ukraine from leaving Russia's sphere of influence and from coming under the umbrella of European states. Otherwise, that empire will collapse. Because the roots of this empire are found in Ukraine, they are leading the mythology of Slavism, the mythology of Christianity, they are leading from Ukraine, we are the root of their empire. They even rewrote history, Catherine rewrote history. Do you remember the commission that spent ten years collecting books from churches there and burning them? They were rewriting history, fictionalized history, that they were the key to everything, and Ukraine was not.

- Well, they have now rewritten it again and will rewrite it more than once, but we have to do our own thing.

- This is 100%.

- You have now voiced such a bad, bad forecast, and I think that those who are watching us now are in a bad mood because of this bad forecast. Our risks are enormous if we are told no now, but if we are told yes at the same time to this Ukrainian fund of more than 50 billion for four years. If we are told yes to the approval of funding, the continuation of funding for the European Peace Fund, will this be considered a success for Ukraine or what? Can't this be separated, this financial support and political support? Because here we are suddenly told no, and here we are told yes, what does this mean?

- I would divide these issues into strategic and tactical ones. Despite the fact that 50 billion is a large sum. But if there is a blocking decision, they will not give us the green light to start bilateral negotiations with the European Union. This means that we are left strategically in a gray area between Russia and the European Union. That we are actually left as a prize for Russia, which may come back someday, having gained strength and influence in the world, having restored its influence, to take over Ukraine again, someday. This is a strategic decision. 50 billion is being given to ensure that we will survive until the 27th year, resisting Russia. This is a tactical decision. Providing weapons, providing finance is a tactical decision. The strategic solution is Ukraine's withdrawal from Russia's sphere of influence and transition under the umbrella of European countries. This is the main thing, the rest is not important. If we move under the umbrella of the European Union, we will eventually become a member of NATO, and this means that Russia has lost its opportunity forever. Because it will not fight with NATO, because NATO has Article Five, and France, Britain, and the United States have nuclear weapons, and Russia will not fight. This finally means that Russia is losing Ukraine, which means that it is losing its imperial status, its future. And that is why it will fight to the last, pay any price to keep Ukraine out of Europe. 50 billion can be allocated, and military aid can be given, and it is here, well, it is bad, because the war will continue, but it will survive it, Russia. But it will not survive, the only green light is for negotiations with the European Union to begin. This is a strategic decision, the rest are tactical decisions of the near, let's say, medium term.

- And this strategic decision will not be made in our favor, because, as you say, Russia has won. Its narratives and its influence on Hungary, on Slovakia, and its efforts to shake up Europe have been successful, right?

- Well, let's see together. My opinion is this. Why do I draw this conclusion? I have described the geopolitical situation. And now let's look at the realities in a procedural way. So, how is the decision made? Strategically, it is born somewhere: Germany and France, because they are the locomotives of Europe, and some key countries either support them or not, saying that we need to expand, so we have to do something. The European Parliament, this impulse comes to the European Parliament, to the legislative body, they vote, they voted in October to start there, to give Ukraine a perspective, a European perspective. The European Commission in its annual report on how a candidate country fulfills its obligations. They say, "Yes, I checked, and Ukraine is ready on all counts, it has fulfilled everything we set out to do. And the third stage is a political decision, the European Council unanimously, because the procedure has not changed, must vote unanimously and make a political decision, give the go-ahead to start bilateral negotiations. Then an agreement is formed on these negotiations, how long they will last, the content of these negotiations, and that's it.

- Mr. Ruslan, can you elaborate? Does the agreement specify how many years these negotiations will last, or is it very abstract?

- No, no, it does not. But every year a report is made, and the criteria are prescribed there...

- Once again, this agreement, does it have a deadline? Does it specify the number of years, or what objective indicators are there, except, of course, the list, just the average conditions that we have to fulfill to join?

- Look at the timing, if we are talking about timing. We have to negotiate with all 27 member states and settle all political, economic, and other issues, where Ukraine will have to make concessions in many areas, that is, in order to get into the European Union. Also, the European Commission will set us criteria that we have to achieve in these negotiations, pulling us up in terms of democratic criteria and economic criteria, and even allocate money in this regard. But in terms of time, even preparing the negotiations and holding them will take at least two months with one country. Multiply 27 by 2 and you get 54 months. 54 months is how many years we have, divided by 12, which means 4-5 years of negotiations without end, without breaks. Every month or two we have to negotiate with everyone to get through. And with some countries, as shown...

- Are we off-the-record, we can't negotiate with several countries at the same time, we have parallels, we can't negotiate with two countries, no, we can't do that?

- Well, in parallel. The agreements will continue in parallel. But with all of them, you can, for example, hold talks with France in January and negotiate with Germany in February or March, being sure that you will achieve all the indicators and sign an agreement that France will say, "That's it, we have resolved all the issues with Ukraine. Although this is impossible, because, for example, France is the same agrarian industrial country, that is, the first competitor in our economic sphere, plus in the financial sphere. France will pay for this tightening of our criteria, and so will Germany. And if France and Germany pay, Greece, Italy, for example, will not receive additional money for agriculture or anyone else. They will also not be happy, you know, that financial flows are being redirected. There are many nuances here, both political and economic. Within Europe, there are many countries that would not like to, let's say, or are afraid. Not that they don't want to, a few don't want to, but many are afraid that Ukraine's accession will change the structure of the European Union's economy and politics in general. That is, the European Parliament will become completely different, financial flows will be redirected, for example, if they were going from north to south, let's say, the northern European countries, more affluent, provided benefits to the eastern and southern countries. Now everything will go to the east, to Ukraine, because Ukraine is huge, and it needs to be pulled up... It's one thing to accept Moldova, pull it up, pay 10 million, and that's enough to pull it up. But Ukraine needs 150 billion or 250 billion, to be found somewhere.

- Are you suggesting that they might say yes, Ukraine might say no, and small Moldova, which is easier to pull up, might say yes?

- Yes, there may be such an option to save Moldova. Because today Ukraine acts as a shield for Moldova, if Ukraine falls, Moldova will not even resist. They will just come in from the sea and come in from the land and take Moldova. But Moldova positions itself as a part of Romania, and Romania will lobby to quickly take Moldova on board this European ship, if it is not possible to take Ukraine, then at least to save Moldova.

- Let's talk about our rescue, of course, Ukrainians have to start saving themselves, pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps. Of course, this is a good plan. I read somewhere that you said that next year Ukrainians should focus on helping themselves, roughly speaking.

- Yes. But there are nuances here, we can't help ourselves so quickly with the number of shells, missiles, Taurus, if Germany doesn't speed up, yes, tanks, and many other things. So we are, in fact, a little bit, well, hostage to these decisions. Perhaps we should really concentrate on getting Europe to provide the main financial and arms support, first and foremost. And this will be considered a success. And they will concentrate on this. They will pass it off as, let's say, security guarantees. Although this is not a security guarantee, it does not guarantee that Russia will continue the war or, if it stops, that it will not come again. This is a partial guarantee. The guarantee is based on the balance of power and the balance of interests. If you have a balance of power with Russia, like Pakistan has with India, nuclear weapons are a balance of power, and they don't attack each other because it's a nuclear war, even though Pakistan is smaller than India. But we don't have a balance of power, they have nuclear weapons, and we don't have nuclear weapons. Plus, they have a large contingent of people and army, while we have a smaller one. Our interests are diametrically opposed, so we have a remote conflict: either Moscow will stand or Kyiv will stand. Moscow will come here to finish the job, so to speak, sooner or later with any government. It doesn't matter. Until, for example, we have nuclear weapons. But as soon as Ukraine gets nuclear weapons, Russia will not come here to finish the job.

- Yes, you are talking about the long term, and I am talking about the short term. We have already understood the political one, you are making your forecast, it's not me, it's you. You say that there will be no positive decision for us to start negotiations, and there are a number of...

- At least in December.

- Yes, we need economic support with weapons and financial support, but will this vector, so to speak, this aid package be approved?

- Weapons will be approved, if not at the multilateral level, for example, from the EU, or NATO, or the United States, then bilateral countries will be involved, for example, Finland, Germany, Britain will make 155 rounds...

- Individual coalitions.

- At the bilateral level. We will be supported by Northern Europe, the countries like Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Baltic countries, Poland will support us, Germany will support us because it is the locomotive in Europe, it understands that it is responsible for what is being done. First of all, Germany is responsible for the eastern flank, France is responsible for the south, for the Maghreb, the Mazurek, the Mediterranean, and Germany is responsible for the east, for the eastern direction.

- Well, France did not refuse to support us either, on the contrary. France did not refuse. Let's talk about France.

- France generally takes a separate position, it positions itself separately as a country. Here it plays together with Germany, but here it still positions itself as a leader in European processes.

- It is the leader, it is the political leader of the European Union, as Macron believes.

- Yes, yes. So she is positioning herself separately.

- Tell me something else. A separate issue that will be discussed this week in Brussels is the 12th package of sanctions. To what extent do you think the adoption of this strong package of decisive sanctions can weaken Russia?

- I give a realistic scenario, everyone criticizes me for telling bad scenarios. I'm telling a realistic scenario and giving arguments. Look at what Europe and America have done during these two years of war, and what Russia has done during these two years of war. So, Russia, realizing that war is an existential confrontation with the West, is at war with the United States in Ukraine, and it is not really protecting any Russian speakers there, it is fighting for an agreement with the United States on the division of spheres of influence. So, realizing that the war has turned into a long-term one, it realized that victory is formed in the rear and that it needs to maintain its economic potential in order to be able to maintain stability inside the country and continue the war. To do this, Russia is cooperating with Iran, cooperating with China, and in fact, we see that it has formed ways to circumvent any sanctions. Through Kyrgyzstan, through Kazakhstan, through Turkey, Georgia, and other countries through which the bypassed imports went. Moreover, it went further, it formed a new trade route, from the Persian Gulf, from the southern ports of Iran, through all of Iran by rail, across the Caspian Sea to Russia and to Central Asia. Plus, it went even further, it separated India from the Western coalition. And the Western coalition wanted to form India as a balancer to China, you know, an opposite country that has disputes with China, and they wanted to move production from China to India, provide it with technology, investment, and balance China. Then, at the G-20 in Japan, they decided to create a 600 billion dollar fund and launch a parallel project to the Chinese Silk Road, which ran from China across the Caspian Sea, through the Middle East to Southern Europe. This is what the United States wanted to do, to connect India through the Middle East to Southern Europe, so that these high-tech goods that will be produced would go to Europe. Russia and Iran interrupted this project, and Israel started a confrontation with Hamas. That's it, this project was ruined before it even started. In China, it has been around for about five years. And they have gathered followers from more than a hundred countries and 30 international organizations, China. So Russia has actually provided itself with, first of all, workarounds to replenish its potential and continue the war. It is also opening new trade routes with Iran, India, and so on. What do we see in Europe? Europe has left two-thirds of its companies in Russia to trade and make money, adopted 11 packages of sanctions, and failed to stop this potential with secondary sanctions. Today, Russia has reached pre-war parameters, with 600 billion in budget revenues. If for the first two quarters it was falling and spending the sovereign wealth fund, today it has reached the pre-war profits and even more. That is, it has put all military-industrial enterprises back into operation.

- So, as far as I understand, Mr. Ruslan, you are a kind of sanctions pessimist, right, so you are saying that no matter how strong the sanctions are, no matter how strong the EU threatens, and no matter what it adopts, Russia can easily circumvent it, and even more so, develops new ways of delivering goods and developing, yes, its industry?

- I'm just a better-informed realist, let's just say. Look, 11 packages of sanctions have caused damage of, well, at most, USD 50 billion. At the same time, they gave Putin a head start in 2023, so that he could go off on a tangent, let's say, to set up everything that was said, and provide the economic foundation for continuing a long war. If 11 packages of sanctions have not worked, will the 12th package work? When two-thirds of European companies remain working in Russia, when British and European boards are found in shaheds, and much more. When they don't talk to Turkey, with which they have parallel imports through Central Asian countries, and Kyrgyzstan trades with Germany there. Over the past year, one-way trade from Germany to Kyrgyzstan has doubled. Kyrgyzstan has got money, so it has started buying twice as much from Germany, which is not clear - where is it going?

- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan... the routes.

- Yes. Or from China, where they catch China by the hand, whether they provide it or not. There are trains and trucks - the Kazakhs themselves say that it goes on forever, day and night, so the caravans just go on; it's not clear what they are carrying. But I don't see Russia giving up anything there. And Putin will now come on the air on the 14th and just laugh at these sanctions, at these 11 packages. Because there were no secondary sanctions. And against this background, on the one hand, you are giving Russia a head start in raising its potential, and on the other hand, you are not providing weapons and not supporting Ukraine financially, which means you are reducing its potential. Although you should have been pulling it up to balance these two potentials. So, there are two negative trends that are developing, and with the 12th package they will overcome these two negative trends? Well, I doubt it.

- Mr. Ruslan, you are so...

- One more example. A million shells from the European Union. We were given 300,000, they say we don't have time, and then it turns out that they signed contracts with third countries, and these shells go to third countries. Ukraine, people are dying on the frontline because there are not enough shells, and they say, "Oh, we'll reconsider now, we'll redirect them not to third countries, as we signed business contracts." Or is there a war on our doorstep, and should we send the shells here? And the discussion is on again. How will we solve this?

- There is the usual percentage of shells that are purchased or chartered by American companies, and they also go to Ukraine, but through America. This is also a well-known fait accompli, but more on that later.

- And frozen assets.

- The frozen assets may be a certain salvation for Ukraine, because Europe will dare to unfreeze them.

- Europeans will not. You should read the discussions, read the discussions of Europeans. They say we can only use interest and we are afraid of that. The Belgian office, which accepts most of Russia's sovereign assets, says that we don't want to undermine the balance within the European Union, because if we use frozen assets, we will get high profits, which means deductions, which means we will have an imbalance in the budget, and everything must be balanced, as it should be. We will give this interest to Ukraine for support, for military support, interest, but the body? The country that started the war on your doorstep. And they are filing counterclaims: we can't do that, we have to do it by law. Germany is against it: we need to do it by law, we need a legal decision. And that's it. That's how it works...

- Mr. Ruslan, you paint an absolutely hopeless picture. What, in this context, will be the salvation of Ukraine? Don't tell me it's in Ukraine itself, because we have enough resources, but we won't be able to reproduce them so quickly. That's right. And we also do not have enough...

- Weapons that will be an asymmetric response to Russia, that is, they must be technologically advanced. The technology in our weapons must be advanced. That's how we used the HIMARS and actually broke the situation on the battlefield. This is how we use long-range missiles. Ukraine needs to build joint ventures so that it has a shield and a sword. The shield is air defense, and the sword is a missile program that will allow us to produce missiles that will fly a thousand kilometers or more, so that we can reach the Urals. When Russia knows that a ballistic missile with a 500 kg warhead can fall somewhere near the Kremlin and make a 9-10 meter deep crater, not even a nuclear missile, but a conventional one. And we will have plenty of such missiles. Because we will have a dozen such enterprises that will produce these things at scale. This is the first point. This is a military moment. But...

- Have you ever wondered how long it would take to set up such a production facility, or if it could be done in a year? People are waiting for this right now, so that that missile will fall near the Kremlin.

- This is what we should have done yesterday. We should have done some small-scale construction, like the roads that led to Melitopol and to the rear of Mariupol, along these roads that we rolled up by the sea. Who did we roll them for, to drive armored personnel carriers into the rear of our Azov fighters in Mariupol? So, this should have been invested in military enterprises earlier, because we were in a gray zone, which was not clear to the military and political leadership? Ukraine was kept on the threshold of the European Union, not allowed to join NATO, in 2008 it was denied NATO membership, and now in Vilnius it has been denied NATO membership. We will still have some illusions, feed on some illusions, or we will still get down to business and make our plan and start moving according to our plan. And we will use foreign assistance as an additional one. If we rely on foreign aid for the rest of our lives, we will lose.

- We can't help but rely on it now, because we are very weak and we don't have enough of our own money. We are forced to ask for this help, and we have an absolute right to it. Okay, you mentioned missiles. What else besides missiles did you say we need to survive?

- I'll add the second thing. The most important thing is the rear. If our economy is strong, we will have a high-tech army, and the army will win. If there is no rear, any army will be dependent on foreign supplies of ammunition and everything. It will not be able to withstand long-term pressure. Therefore, we need changes within Ukraine itself. We still have a monopolized economy. Our large economic sectors depend on one or two names. And we know all these names, who runs all these spheres. So Ukraine needs to demonstrate demonopolization, openness, reforms, economic reforms, so that there is so much freedom here and taxes are reduced and the tax base is expanded, not at the expense of those who work and raise taxes. What is our current trend? The tax base is shrinking, taxes are growing. We need to expand the tax base and reduce taxes, make the economy open, so that people would come here despite the security and political risks. What did foreigners say before the war? What were our biggest economic risks? Monopolists, lack of competition, political risks when the Verkhovna Rada retroactively changes the rules of the game, changes tariffs, for example, in green energy or something else. It froze them, then thawed them, then did something else. Now we have added security risks, we had a regional conflict, and now we have a war. Taking all these nuances into account, we need to understand that these are huge risks for foreign businesses to even open their own businesses. Because today they invested 10 million, and tomorrow a missile comes and that company is gone. Therefore, we need to create such conditions that people want to bring their money here and develop military enterprises.

- Then we need to win the war, so it turns out. How do you persuade them to come here?

- By winning the war inside. You have to understand this. Throughout history, Ukrainians have underestimated the state. We had all sorts of things, the Sich, the Cossack state, but there was no regular state, with, well, branches of power, let's say, their distribution and everything else. Plus a market economy. You know, everyone is working in fops and so on in a roundabout way. No one wants to pay taxes. So, on the one hand, we need to loosen up and open up the economy and create a democratic economy. On the other hand, we need to tighten control to ensure that everyone pays low taxes. And then you will see how business will develop here. There are examples like Ireland. Look at how Ireland turned itself from a backward European country into a country where IT professionals came to work and moved...

- Oh, Ruslan, that's all very well. But Ireland has never been attacked by Russia, you know.

- I agree. Now we can develop the military-industrial complex and technologies. The military-industrial complex will lead to science, to changes in education, because if you have strong education, you will have strong science. Science combined with production will result in military models that will be technologically advanced, more advanced than in Russia. Not just to make 10,000 tanks, 55 or 72, but to make them. For example, a weapon that will stop all these tanks simultaneously on the battlefield, based on some new principles, relatively speaking, something like this, you know. That is, we can only respond asymmetrically, because we are less powerful than Russia.

- Yes, so we need to develop something that Russia doesn't have. But, as people who are fighting with our UAVs and other things tell me, they say that Russia is very quick to intercept Ukrainians, to put it bluntly, stealing all these advanced technologies. I understand that the war is then for years to come.

- The war will last for years, I said it earlier, because it's like a remote war - either the Russian empire will fall, or they will absorb us. And they will move on, reclaiming their spheres of influence. Look at what their geopoliticians say: we are a breathing empire, we gave something in 18th century, there was the Brest Peace, back and forth, then we won everything back. We took away Ukraine, returned to Western Ukraine, conquered a part of Romania, and so on. That is, they dream of the spheres of influence that the Russian empire had, which included, I apologize, Finland and all of Central and Eastern Europe.

- Mr. Ruslan, we should not end the conversation like this. I won't even be able to cut it out, we must do something more or less good at the end in the last questions, giving hope. Positive.

- Positive, it's the end of the year. It's the end of the year, people are exhausted, confused, tired, upset, and with our predictions about these decisions, not about us at all. Let's try to find a grain of hope in this, as they say, a grain of hope in the development of bilateral relations with the countries we have calculated, which are Northern Europe, the Baltic states, Poland, Germany, and Britain. And then there are one or two countries that will stand with us to the end. We won't be abandoned even if the United States, Trump comes in and they start pursuing a different foreign policy, isolationists, for example, withdraw from Europe. Europe will have to react, because now, two years later, it's too late, but they have come to the realization that Putin will not stop at Ukraine. And so they will support Ukraine. Now we will see the development of the military-industrial complex accelerate, we will see funding, it will be compensated, compensators will be involved. If, for example, the European Union does not provide this aid, I call it multilateral aid, countries will compensate from all over the world, looking for this aid, as they say, from Japan and South Korea to European countries. Everyone at the bilateral level will help Ukraine to survive, because Ukraine is now working as a shield for Europe. And we will be supported, it will be more difficult, there will be less financial assistance. But we have to launch our strategic plan, and I say it again and again in all my interviews: strategic planning, the world will change in 2024, and we have to respond to it, to respond very actively to all these things, and there will be support. We have nowhere to go, the victory will be ours. Because if Ukraine fails...

- Let's hope for support and victory. No, if Ukraine fails, let's not even talk about it, because it's not a question of that kind, because there are no options. Thank you very much for this conversation. I hope it will not be the last, Mr. Ruslan.

Ruslan Osypenko, diplomat and international relations expert. Today we talked about the international agenda for Ukraine. Thank you very much. And, unfortunately, I have to, I will only be able to finish the record when I press the end of our meeting, but I don't want to end our meeting, but I really hope that it will not be the last. Thank you for meeting me in this experimental format.

- No questions. Invite me, I'm ready.

- Thank you very much.

- Have a good evening, goodbye.

Lidiya Taran

Photo: APK-Inform Agency, Ukrainian Association of Sinologists

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