Poroshenko’s Munich mistake: World security conference as a cold shower for Ukraine

Author : Serhiy Sydorenko

Source : 112 Ukraine

The world is not Ukraine-centered, and Kyiv should understand it
09:32, 20 February 2017

Read the original text at

In February, Munich has hosted an annual security conference, the most prestigious non-governmental forum in the world, dedicated to international security.

Just as in 2015 and 2016 respectively, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has been invited to the event. And when it comes to Russian aggression, the whole world stands on the side of Ukraine.

And beyond that, a lot of things have changed over the past three years. But Poroshenko has not realized that. So, what is "bad news"?

Related: Ukraine became one of the main topics during Munich Security Conference, - Poroshenko

Ukraine is gradually going away from the agenda, from the list of topics discussed by the world leaders. And it became obvious In Munich. But the real problem is not that attention to Ukraine is just dispersing; of course, this is quite a natural process. The world has many other hot topics not related to us - from the war in the Middle East to the migration crisis, Brexit, and victory of Trump.

The problem is that the official Kyiv was not ready for a new reality; it was not ready to compete for the world attention. Here are the events of the first day of the Munich conference. The text refers to the problems of the "presidential" panel and Ukraine’s lost opportunities.

Poroshenko and loneliness

This time, Poroshenko was invited to the speech on the opening day of the conference, on Friday evening. The main day of the Munich meeting is believed to be Saturday. In previous years, Poroshenko had an opportunity to speak on Saturday. Although this year’s change did not mean the apparent decrease in status. For the first time, Poroshenko was invited not as the main Panelists, but became the third number. But this is not the biggest problem.

Related: Poroshenko and Duda held meeting in Munich

Finally, over 30 heads of state and government took part in a conference in Munich; 30 people cannot be the first and the main speakers at the same time. But the reaction of the audience for Poroshenko’s speech has cleared everything there: attention to the Ukrainian question remained in the past.

Poroshenko was invited to a panel called "The Future of the West: decline or return?" But Ukrainian guest decided that his own theme is more important, and began to talk about Ukrainian-Russian conflict. He did not voice any new statements: the inability of the Kremlin’s appeasement, Putin’s hatred to Ukraine, the importance of maintaining sanctions.

Related: President of Ukraine held speech at 53rd Munich Security Conference: Full text

Poroshenko’s panels was attended by US Senator McCain, the Polish president Duda, Foreign Minister of the Netherlands and Britain, Kunders and Johnson. All of them were on Ukraine’s side in the assessment of the conflict with Russia.

But in their speeches and responses, none of them did not move to the Ukrainian issue (excluding McCain).

The hour and a half panel, Poroshenko spent as a statistician, while other participants discussed the new challenges the Western world - changes after Brexit, the new US policy and so on.

In the end of the panel, when ignoring the Ukrainian guest was just impossible, the host took the initiative and gave him the floor. Poroshenko tried to turn back the Ukrainian theme, remembering his trip to Donbas with McCain. No one during panel did not the to the Ukrainian-Russian conflict.

Related: Munich conference: US position to be clarified

Not in the center of the universe

Descending interest to the Ukrainian issues in comparison with previous years is quite notable, of course, not only in the panel with the participation of Poroshenko. During the first day, our country was remembered only 2-3 times, with one short sentence.

Russia, by the way, has been mentioned more often. Or course, Russian aggression against the West might be discussed and condemned without mentioning the word "Ukraine".

In recent yearsб Russia has become a threat to Europe, not only Ukraine’s attacker, and the other capitals are also concerned about it.

The world is not Ukrainian-centered. Kyiv should understand it.

Of course, Russian aggression in Donbas and annexation of Crimea would remain a key issue for Ukraine. But if we are not looking beyond the present, assume that the whole world thinks the same way, we will lose.

Related: UN Security Council adopted resolution on protection of critical infrastructure against terrorist threats

Here is a brief list of problems that were most actively discussed in Munich; and obviously they are more relevant to many EU countries:

  • Aggressive policy of Russia towards the West (and these are not only the actions of Russia in Ukraine!)
  • Russian interference in elections, hybrid and cyber threats
  • Syrian crisis and ISIS problem
  • Migration crisis in Europe
  • Change in the US administration and related uncertainty
  • Changes in Europe, connected with Brexit
  • NATO's future and the need to increase defense budgets.

So in fact half the problems in Europe are quite close to Ukraine. However, our government used to put its issue in the European context. And often it thinks that all attention should be focused on us.

Related: Foreign Ministry: Local election in Donbas impossible in current security conditions

This dissonance in Poroshenko’s speech did not remain unnoticed.

Trying to convince the world that "Ukraine First," official Kyiv gets a cold shower.

And finally it is losing the competition for the attention of the West to our needs.

Related: How Ukraine benefits from its presidency in UN Security Council

What shall we do?

Another illustration is quite eloquent.

Related: Grybauskaite meets Poroshenko in Kyiv: Quotes from briefing

On Friday, there was also a panel with participation of Dalia Grybauskaitė, the President of Lithuania. Hardly anyone suspects the President of Lithuania that it pays too little attention to Ukrainian-Russian war, but at the Munich Conference Grybauskaite ... did not mention Ukraine. But she mentioned about an aggressive policy of Russia, and the audience was ready to hear and discuss it.

Does this mean that Grybauskaitė "forgot about Ukraine?"

Of course not. To everything there is a season.

All this does not mean that Ukraine should withdraw its issue from the agenda. On the contrary, we have both reason and opportunity to promote Ukrainian interest, which is associated with the other problems of global security.

Related: Dalia Grybauskaite does not want her country to be occupied again by Russia

Ukraine should talk about it. But it should do it otherwise, putting us in a general context. Demonstrating Europe not only the desire of Ukraine, but Ukrainian contribution to the solution of common European problems and our country's place in the overall security picture.

Confining domestic problems Poroshenko shows Ukraine as the passive object of international security. And by participating in solving common problems in Europe, and adding Ukraine in general "puzzle" of the global interests, we get a chance to be subject.

And speaking about Munich security conference, we have lost this chance.


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