The only way for Ukraine to win the ongoing war on its soil is with the help of its allies – NATO and
the EU. If the support wanes, so does the hope for victory. This was the message from the Ukrainian
Ambassador to Estonia, H.E. Maksym Kononenko when he visited the Skytte Institute of Political
Studies of the University of Tartu on November the 30th, 2023.
The Ambassador stressed that the Ukrainian victory is an existential matter not only to Ukraine but
to the whole democratic world. It is therefore urgent that NATO and EU make it clearly known that
Ukraine has a clear membership perspective. Kononenko claimed that Russia already regards NATO
as a party to the conflict. It follows that NATO should not fear Ukraine’s membership. Instead,
Ukraine should be regarded as an invaluable asset for the organization, given its experience in
battlefield against the Russian military.
The Ambassador delved further back into history, explaining how the idea of imperial Russia would
collapse without Kyiv. He reminded the listeners that the current war was started by Russia in 2014
as an answer to the Euromaidan demonstrations and the Revolution of Dignity which followed them.
These protests were sparked by President Yanukovich’s sudden decision not to sign the European
Union-Ukraine Association Agreement, choosing closer ties to Russia instead. These protests, along with the Orange Revolution 10 years before, are a clear sign that Ukraine has a
strong civil society that is ready to fight for European values. It is this very civil society that Russia
sees as the greatest threat.
This fight has turned into a full-scale war, fought in the name of democracy. Kononenko stressed that the EU needs to realize that its values are right now being fought for in Ukraine. It is the Ukrainian peoples’ dream to join the European family that keeps the determination to fight strong.
That is why Ukraine, now a candidate country to EU, has done its very best to address
therecommendations made by the EU in order to start the negotiations to join the Union. Now, what
is left, Kononenko said, are the political battles behind closed doors.
The open lecture was followed by a Q&A session, moderated by Thomas Linsenmaier, an Analyst in
Political Science at the Johan Skytte Institute. The discussion touched upon some tough issues on the
road to integration. Such as, for example, Victor Orban’s possible veto against the opening of EU
According to the main organizers of the event, Anna Beitane and Yurii Kondratyk, “the event was
aimed to facilitate a direct engagement with the Ukrainian Ambassador to gain firsthand insights
into the latest advancements in Ukraine’s pursuit of European integration. The lecture marked the
ambassador’s first public engagement at the University of Tartu. We are very honored to host the
ambassador at the institute and hope to continue our collaboration in the future.”
Maksym Kononenko was appointed the Ambassador of Ukraine to the Republic of Estonia in March 2023.
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