“Developing society’s post-war resilience in Ukraine” conference in Croatia

On 6 June 2023, IDM Research Associate Jack Gill was invited to speak on a panel at a conference hosted at the University of Zadar (Croatia) on “Developing society’s post-war resilience in Ukraine”, organised by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation together with the University of Zadar, the Croatian Statehood Foundation (ZHDZ), the IJEK-Institute, and the Hybrid Warfare Research Institute.

Gill spoke on the first panel, titled “Post-war (re)construction of democratic society in Ukraine”, and gave his insights into the geopolitical context in which Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction would necessarily have to take place. In particular, he highlighted the importance of the Black Sea to the Kremlin’s grand strategy for global power projection, and that what we are currently seeing unfold in Ukraine is Russia trying to permanently secure the strategic territories in southern Ukraine, namely the Oblasts (regions) of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.

After giving this geopolitical overview of the current situation in Ukraine and Russia, Gill offered the suggestion that, once the war is over, some kind of federal governance system could work well for Ukraine. Drawing a comparison with Germany and Austria after the Second World War, he said that federalism could offer a very stable and decentralised political and legal framework which could ensure a fairer distribution of investment funds after Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. However, Gill stressed that federalism would be better based on the traditional historical regions of Ukraine, as opposed to the current system of oblasts, which is a legacy of the Soviet period.

With over 40 participating policymakers and experts from Croatia, Germany, Ukraine, Romania, Moldova, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, the UK, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Hungary, other participants emphasised, among other things, the need for Ukraine’s integration into western political structures, like the European Union, as well as a larger role for youth and civil society in Ukraine’s post-war development. Other important issues mentioned by participants included the role and influence of media (in particular countering malign Russian influence) to strengthen societal resilience, as well as the need for further financial and military support for Ukraine from Western countries.