Never Again 2.0
Ukraine seeks to fulfill its potential as a European democracy built on the principles of the rule of law. This will only be possible after the invasion is over.
The liberation of the entire territory of Ukraine and the end of hostilities will not bring an end to the war. And it is not only a matter of reparations for the damage caused to the country and punishing the guilty. Feverish anti-Ukrainian and anti-Western sentiment in tandem with the imperial ambitions of both the Russian elite and ordinary Russians will, sooner or later, lead to future escalation and war. To protect Ukraine and the world from new waves of aggression, the anti-war coalition needs to create conditions that will result in profound internal changes in Russia to ensure sustainable peace.
Compelled by the calls of our defenders, the Armed Forces of Ukraine, we, the authors of this manifesto and representatives of Ukrainian civil society, have taken the liberty of detailing these conditions. The world will never be the same as it was before the war, so instead of returning to the pre-war status quo, our goal is to look at what made the war possible and create a new, safer system that will completely rule out further Russian aggression down the line. Most of our proposals are within the framework of international law, and some seek legal changes that are commensurate with new threats to global security.
This manifesto offers a vision of such a postwar world and how to achieve it. We cannot achieve peace at the expense of justice or justice at the expense of peace. For sustainable international security, justice and peace must be achieved simultaneously.
This means that the aggressor must bear full responsibility for the war and be held fully accountable.
Ukraine is entitled not only to demand justice for the crimes committed by Russia, but also to receive unambiguous guarantees of sustainable peace in the future.
We, the authors of this manifesto and representatives of Ukrainian civil society, believe that the implementation of the ideas herein will prevent future aggression and ensure sustainable peace in the interests of all people — not only in Western Europe, but also in Central and Eastern Europe — through the motto “Never Again”.
1. Responsibility for the war
2. Ensuring sustainable peace
We do not know how long the war will last. One thing, however, is certain: each day brings it closer to the end. The time has come for both Ukraine and the world to answer the question of what this end will look like. We are driven to do this because the world is still bogged down in outdated concepts, and there is no opposition in Russia that can offer a vision of the future.
It is a fool’s errand to try and predict exactly how the war will end. But it is obvious that the worst-case scenario has already been averted: there will be no defeat of Ukraine and its erasure from the world map. With the support of the volunteer movement and the entire free world, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have ensured that this scenario will not come to fruition. It is clear that Russia's defeat and decline is much more likely than the conquest of Ukraine.
We are also well aware that an armistice will not bring an end to the war. Given the strong anti-Ukrainian sentiment and imperial ambitions among both the Russian elite and ordinary Russians, any truce will only bring a respite and will be an invitation for a new Russian war against Ukraine, just as the truce at the end of the first Russian-Chechen war was followed by another war, one even more destructive and cruel.
The only acceptable scenario for Ukrainians and the democratic world is the victory of Ukraine and its development as a democratic European state based on the rule of law and respect for human rights. But what does victory look like? Obviously, the advance of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to the borders of 1991 is necessary, but if Russia keeps pursuing its aggressive plans, more is required. How can we protect Ukraine and the world from the next war? How can we avert a scenario when in one or two generations, a new Putin comes to power in Moscow, unleashing a new Russian war against Ukraine and the West, a war our children and grandchildren will be forced to fight?
We shall proceed from the assumption that the victories of the Armed Forces of Ukraine at the front lines, combined with the international isolation of Russia and Western sanctions, will lead to the collapse of Putin’s regime. However, we firmly believe that the Ukrainian victory will not be complete unless there is an internal transformation of Russia that would render any subsequent Russian aggression against Ukraine or other countries impossible.
It must be said loud and clear: the Russians themselves are not capable of making these changes. The Russian Federation is too ill for it to be able to cure itself. There have been many attempts to create a democratic Russia throughout its history, but each one ended with an even longer period of authoritarian and totalitarian rule, mass repressions against its own population and aggressive policies towards its neighbours.
Russia itself cannot break free from the vicious circle of its past. It can change only under international pressure. And this is where Ukrainian voices should be heard. We, Ukrainians, deserve no less. This right stems from our staunch opposition to Russian aggression, which poses a threat to the entire world. As a result of our past and present experience, we have become the foremost experts on the Russian issue. We know very well that the Russian threat goes beyond Lenin, Stalin or Putin. We are a major stakeholder in the transformation of Russia as an essential factor for achieving sustainable peace in the world.
We, the authors of this manifesto and representatives of Ukrainian civil society, have taken the liberty of describing how such a victory would look. It was written with three audiences in mind. Firstly, our fellow Ukrainians. We must be clear about what victory would look like to protect future generations from war and genocide.
The second audience is our international partners and allies in the fight against Russian aggression. We are grateful to them for all their help and assistance: without our partners, our future victory would be impossible. But we want them to be aware of their moral duty to Ukraine. With their willingness to sacrifice their lives for the sake of freedom and dignity, Ukrainians are reminding our allies of their own values, which have been diluted in recent decades as a result of the pragmatic attitude towards business ties with Russia and other authoritarian regimes.
The third audience is all those people in Russia and in exile that seek this transformation, primarily the oppressed non-Russian peoples of the empire, people fighting against Putin’s regime and other non-imperial Russians. To some, these people may seem weak compared to Putin’s regime, but they are the ones who will have to put in the actual work.
Rather than returning to the status quo “before the beginning of the invasion”, our goal is to create a new, safer world where such aggression is impossible, and proactive countermeasures are taken to ensure that this remains the case. Most of our proposals are within the framework of international law, while others require legal changes that are commensurate with the new threats to global security.
In this manifesto, we will also attempt to convey another important idea: One cannot achieve peace at the expense of justice or justice at the expense of peace. For sustainable international security, justice and peace must be achieved simultaneously.
This manifesto does not address the issue of the decolonization of the territories occupied by the Russian Empire or the post-war geopolitical distribution of power. These are important issues that require a separate analysis.v
Since the First World War, the fate of this world has largely depended on what was happening in and around Ukraine. Every attempt to ignore Ukrainian voices in the past ended in disaster for both Ukraine and the world. Ukrainians have become agents of history, and therefore the world should understand that the principle of “nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine” is here to stay. Otherwise, not only Ukrainians but the whole world will pay a high price for ignoring Ukraine. Only our security will enable Ukraine, Europe and the world to address the greatest challenges facing humanity.
Russian society today is unable to recognize its collective guilt either for the war, whose criminal nature is very obvious to most outside observers, or for its consequences. The vast majority of the population, being staunch believers in the imperialist grandeur of Russia, easily fall under the influence of official propaganda narratives about the so-called protection of the people of the Donbas and the artificiality of Ukrainian statehood, that the Ukrainian people do not exist because Russians and Ukrainians are one and the same, and about the need to protect Russia from NATO aggression. And those opposed to the Russian regime consider themselves to be victims of Putin’s policies, just like Ukrainians.
Future co-existence based on sustainable peace is impossible without a change in the public consciousness of Russians. Post-war reparations should be seen as rectifying an obvious injustice rather than punishing an entire nation for the decisions of one individual. The issue of accountability for war crimes against Ukraine therefore carries enormous weight as a tool for building sustainable peace and restoring justice in a legitimate way.
There are three categories of criminal acts that require proper legal assessment: crimes of aggression, war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and incitement to genocide.
The first is an attack on a sovereign state with the aim of capturing its territory and establishing control over it, as well as erasing its cultural and national identity. Russia’s actions have already received the appropriate political assessment from many international institutions, but there are currently no legal accountability mechanisms. Neither Russia nor Ukraine has ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court with the Kampala Amendments, and Russia systematically abuses its right of veto in the UN Security Council, obstructing the jurisdiction of the ICC. In response to this, Ukraine proposes to set up a separate temporary international tribunal for crimes of aggression. This can be established on the basis of an agreement between individual states or by decision of an international organization (the UN) or regional organizations (the Council of Europe and/or the EU). The key objective is to maximize the legitimacy of the accountability mechanism and facilitate the exemption from immunity of the highest officials of the aggressor country. The actions of Russian leaders should be regarded as crimes against the peace and security of mankind, and the accountability mechanism should constitute the response of the international community rather than that of individual states.
Subject to the consolidation of the political will of many countries, the International Criminal Court could be granted jurisdiction by making procedural amendments to the Rome Statute of the ICC (for example, by providing for the possibility of addressing the UN General Assembly), but this could take decades. Any mechanism requires a broad international consensus, and its creation is now a priority. It is important that the accountability mechanism is effective, legitimate and ensures that the highest officials of the aggressor country see justice.
Ukraine petitioned the International Court of Justice of the United Nations, claiming that Russia has used baseless accusations against Ukraine of committing genocide in order to justify its act of aggression. Dozens of other countries supported Ukraine.
Other actions that require a proper legal assessment are the manner of military operations’ conduct in complete disregard of human life and human dignity. A huge number of violations of international humanitarian law have been documented in the course of this war. Not only has Russia committed an obvious crime against the peace and security of mankind, but it also violates the laws and customs of war. Unlike aggression, for which the military and political leadership of the country is responsible, war crimes have been committed by servicemen ranging from privates to generals. It is important to properly investigate these crimes, to identify both those who directly committed them and those who gave orders. Russian society and the international community should be aware of how widespread these crimes are, of the deliberate attacks on the civilian population and indiscriminate use of weapons, and of the tactics of its own army that disregards the lives of civilians, prisoners of war and even its own servicemen.
Another category of crimes with a broader intent includes crimes against humanity, genocide and incitement to it. The systematic persecution of certain categories of the civilian population based on certain characteristics, mass killings of the civilian population, mass use of torture, sexual violence, mass relocation of Ukrainians to the territory of the Russian Federation, relocation of children from Ukraine and their subsequent “adoption” in Russia, systematic attacks on the energy infrastructure of the country to inflict suffering on the civilian population in the winter season — these and other actions should receive proper legal assessment. The International Criminal Court, which has the appropriate jurisdiction, should play a key role in the investigation of these crimes.
It is important for Ukraine and the world to act in such a way that the rights of victims and the interests of justice are a clear priority. The demonstrably contemptuous attitude of the current Russian leadership towards international justice should not serve as a deterrent.
Tens of thousands of criminal proceedings regarding war crimes have been instituted in Ukraine. While such an unprecedented scale of criminal activity poses a serious challenge to the national criminal justice system of Ukraine, the International Criminal Court will limit the investigation to only a few selected cases. At the same time, Ukraine must demonstrate the effectiveness of its justice system. Ensuring justice for all victims of international crimes can be facilitated by involving an international element in the judiciary of Ukraine.
Unfortunately, the procedures and institutions responsible for international justice are far from perfect. However, the scale of the Russian-Ukrainian war and possible consequences are driving the search for additional solutions. The primary objectives should be the legitimacy and highest degree of consolidation of the international community around effective accountability mechanisms for the crimes committed during the Russian-Ukrainian war. This would provide a stable basis for a dialogue with Russian society based on the established facts and reduce the likelihood of them being casually dismissed. The room for reaching a compromise will be limited by these “red flags”, and Russian society will be forced to reexamine universal human values such as the basis of the international order and global security. Therefore, in the long term, Russia will benefit from being held accountable regardless of its future state system and territorial structure.
Ukraine must show the world that it is open to cooperation and committed to the values of respect for human rights and the rule of law.
Russia must pay for the war it has unleashed and compensate Ukraine for material and moral damage. For this to happen, countries and international organizations should adopt a framework at the international and national levels to carry out an objective assessment of the damage caused to Ukraine and full payment of compensation by the Russian Federation.
According to the Ukrainian government, as of the beginning of 2023, Ukraine’s direct material losses from the invasion alone have reached 700 billion USD, and continue to grow daily. Indirect material damages (primarily lost economic momentum and the ability to work of millions of people, as well as future medical and social spending) have yet to be assessed. Moreover, the moral damage is unprecedented: Ukraine is entitled to demand compensation for the victims of the war and their families.
Since the outset of the invasion, more than 300 billion euros have been frozen from the currency reserves of the Central Bank of Russia under Western sanctions. The use of these funds as compensation for Ukrainian losses would be a logical step forward, although this requires changes to legislation and political courage from the US and EU countries where these funds are held. However, their imminent confiscation in favor of Ukraine looks unlikely as long as there is a theoretical possibility that the Russian Federation will agree to pay voluntary compensation to Ukraine at the end of the war. Until then, the frozen funds can serve as a security deposit for Ukraine.
Another source of compensation could be funds of private companies and individuals associated with Putin’s regime. The process of freezing such funds was initiated immediately after the onset of the invasion and is ongoing.
The international compensation mechanism can address the problem in two ways:
Some combination of the two options is also possible, especially since the first option can only be applied to state resources rather than the assets of private individuals and companies. More innovative mechanisms are also possible, such as an international tax on Russian exports, with the funds being directed towards reparations.
The first option would be preferable in terms of a comprehensive settlement, recognition by Russia of its guilt for the war and atonement for it, but this is only possible in the distant future, while the huge material losses require swift compensation.
Legal constraints constitute the main obstacle to the second option: its implementation would require significant legislative changes at the level of states that have frozen Russian assets and are willing to transfer them to Ukraine.
The search for political and legal solutions initiated by the EU and many countries, including the US, Canada, Estonia and Germany, to enable the transfer of frozen Russian assets to Ukraine within a few months is to be welcomed.
At the same time, to boost the credibility and effectiveness of Ukrainian diplomatic efforts regarding the seizure of frozen international assets, Ukraine should pursue its own policy of confiscating such assets within Ukraine, and primarily the assets of Russian oligarchs and associated individuals and companies close to Putin.
Separately, there is the issue of the immediate return of people forcibly removed from Ukraine, stolen and illegally adopted children, who should be returned unconditionally to their legal guardians in Ukraine without delay. Items of cultural value and archives stolen from Ukraine must also be immediately and unconditionally returned.
In its resolutions “Aggression against Ukraine” dated 2 March 2022, “Humanitarian consequences of the aggression against Ukraine” dated 24 March 2022, and “Suspension of membership rights of the Russian Federation in the Human Rights Council” dated 7 April 2022, the UN General Assembly recognized that the Russian Federation committed aggression against Ukraine, violating Article 2(4) of the UN Charter, which prohibits UN members from using force against the territorial integrity or political independence of other states. The actions of the Russian Federation disqualify it as a peace-loving state, which is the main criterion for membership in the UN (under Article 4 of the UN Charter) and in other international organizations.
Therefore, all international organizations should adopt resolutions on the expulsion, suspension or limitation of the membership rights of the Russian Federation. These decisions can be reconsidered only after Russia ceases its aggression, acknowledges that it is responsible and provides compensation for damage caused. Along with economic sanctions, participation in international organizations is one of the main levers of international pressure on Russia.
The priority should be to strip Russia of its seat on the UN Security Council and the UN as a whole as soon as possible. Ukraine's official position is that the gross and unprecedented violation of the UN Charter, which has been ongoing since 1991, when the Russian Federation bypassed the UN Charter procedure to inherit the seat of the USSR in the UN, should be rectified. In December 1991, this happened with the tacit consent of the member states of the Security Council and the UN Secretariat, thereby limiting the rights of all other UN member states to have their say on the matter through the General Assembly voting procedure, as provided for in Article 4 of the UN Charter.
Moreover, in clear contravention of the UN Charter, the Russian Federation usurped a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. After all, the words “Russian Federation” are nowhere to be found in Article 23 of the Charter, which lists the permanent members of the UN Security Council. Instead, it is listed as the “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics”. Changes to the Charter have not yet been made, and there has not been a single vote of the General Assembly in support of transferring the USSR’s seat in the Security Council to the Russian Federation.
As a result, Russia is now able to obstruct the actions of the UN Security Council, resort to nuclear and food security blackmail and evade responsibility for its crimes not only in Ukraine, but also in Georgia, Chechnya, Syria, Africa, etc.
This means that to achieve its goals of supporting international peace and security and to restore respect for its Charter, the United Nations should resolve to remove the Russian Federation as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and withdraw (or suspend) the Russian Federation's membership in the UN and, accordingly, in its specialized institutions and programs, such as, in particular, UNESCO.
This should also deprive citizens of the Russian Federation of the right to work in the UN Secretariat and prevent Russia’s involvement in UN peacekeeping missions (this is already low, as only 65 Russian citizens took part in UN missions in 2021, so this should not be a problem for the UN). It should also exclude, suspend or limit Russia's rights in UN organizations and agencies.
In the future, when Russia re-embraces the rules of the civilized world, it can re-acquire the rights of an ordinary member of the UN on general terms, in accordance with the procedure laid down in the Charter. However, it cannot be granted permanent membership in the UN Security Council again. Until the UN Charter is reformed (which is a very complex issue), the USSR's seat on the Security Council should remain vacant.
As a result of the significant violation of the member state's obligations, the OSCE should suspend Russia and Belarus and apply, following the Yugoslav precedent in 1992, the consensus minus one principle. Russia and its citizens should also be excluded from all OSCE bodies and missions.
The ODIHR and High Commissioner on National Minorities should start monitoring the democratic process, human rights and minority rights in Russia. The normalization of relations between OSCE and Russia is contingent upon whether Russia fulfills all the requirements of the ODIHR and the High Commissioner regarding compliance with the “third basket” of requirements for OSCE members.
Should other OSCE members block decisions, the organization would either have to be dissolved or re-established, respecting the principles upon which it is based, but with only those countries that are willing to support the exclusion of Russia and its satellites, and its working methods reviewed (the consensus rule for all decisions abolished).
The Council of Europe excluded Russia in March 2022. The Council of Europe will not greenlight Russia’s return until it fulfills all the membership criteria, in particular regarding the proper implementation of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and other key conventions of the Council of Europe, as well as the recognition of the primacy of decisions adopted by the European Court of Human Rights.
The G20 should decide to completely boycott or refuse to invite Russia to summits and other meetings in the G20 format until it ceases its aggression and provides full compensation for the damage caused (and provided that Russia still has sufficient economic clout to be accepted as a G20 member).
International economic organizations and financial institutions (the WTO, IMF, World Bank, FATF): a number of Western countries have revoked Russia's most favored nation status under the WTO; the World Bank has suspended all its programs in Russia; the FATF has limited its rights (but has not expelled or blacklisted it); the IMF, however, is yet to impose any restrictions. This is not enough: all international institutions must agree on Russia's expulsion, suspension of membership or restriction of rights until the latter ceases its aggression and provides full compensation for the damage caused.
Russia should be excluded from all IAEA governing bodies in order to minimize its impact on the decisions and policies of this organization. New Russian nuclear power facilities and employees of Russian companies should not be granted certificates of compliance and consequently guarantees that the facilities meet the best international standards. Any Russian nuclear facilities must be considered a threat to the national security of the countries where they are located so that all countries voluntarily terminate cooperation with Russian companies.
The strategy for Russia’s withdrawal from its war in Ukraine after its military defeat should focus on the mitigation of the consequences of Russian aggression in a fair manner, giving unconditional priority to the interests of Ukrainian society and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Due to the irreparable human losses, the mass migration of millions of Ukrainian citizens and damage to its demographics, economy and critical infrastructure, Ukraine is entitled not only to expect repentance and atonement on the part of Russian citizens, but also to demand justice for the crimes committed by them and clear guarantees that there will be no potential for future aggression. Russia should also withdraw from all aspects of life in Ukraine, so that Ukrainian society alone, without any pressure or interference, can determine its future and protect its identity.
The adoption of this plan will also signal that the international community no longer tolerates Russia's imperial claims to Ukraine as part of its sphere of influence, thereby creating safeguards against further aggression.
Ukraine’s accession to the European Union and NATO is the number one prerequisite for sustainable peace.
EU membership sets an internal framework, shaping modernization reforms and enshrining a commitment to the rule of law and democratic principles (i.e., it provides an answer to the question "what should Ukraine be?"). Ukraine will work to strengthen democratic institutions, build on the achievements of decentralization, public and corporate governance reforms and implement European standards in all sectors with the sustainable development goals in mind, while avoiding a slide towards authoritarianism and the monopolization of power, risks many post-war countries face.
In turn, NATO membership guarantees an external security framework. The pursuit of EU and NATO membership are two processes that are inextricably linked, although they will not necessarily be completed at the same time.
Democratic countries will only be willing to provide the highest security guarantees to Ukraine (through Article 5 of the Washington Treaty on the establishment of NATO) if they are sure that Ukraine is sincere and consistent in its efforts to achieve high democratic standards, the rule of law, a social market economy and overcome corruption. The pursuit of EU membership and respective transparent criteria acts as a safeguard against straying off this course.
As a result of the invasion in 2022 we no longer need to invent a new security architecture: the idea of this “new security architecture in Europe” proposed by Russia has been rendered bankrupt once and for all. In fact, this was a euphemism for Russia’s desire for a “new Yalta”, or the division of Europe into spheres of influence.
The idea of the “non-alignment” or “neutrality” of Ukraine was rendered bankrupt even earlier, back in 2014: the non-aligned status, which was enshrined in Ukrainian legislation as of March 2014, did not in any way protect the country from the annexation of Crimea and start of the proxy war in the Donbas. The renewal of discussions about Ukraine’s non-alignment/neutrality is counter-productive since this status does not secure the peace and territorial integrity of Ukraine, creating the grounds for the armed expansion of the Russian Federation into Ukraine and annexation of its territories with impunity.
As a result of Russia's unilateral actions, the invasion has quashed fears that the further accession of new members to NATO could worsen relations with Russia as they have reached absolute low even without any new accession. The invitation of Sweden and Finland to join the Alliance in 2022 was an important step forward. The precedent of rapid accession, bypassing the Membership Action Plan developed for peacetime, can still be applied, especially in the context of Ukraine’s extensive experience since 2009 of implementing Annual National Programs aimed at meeting membership criteria.
Ukraine obtained EU candidate status in June 2022 and further accession process will continue through the proper negotiations and the implementation of criteria for strengthening democratic institutions, the rule of law, the competitiveness of the Ukrainian economy and the resilience of Ukrainian society.
Today, the risk of Ukraine’s non-accession in the EU and NATO (maintaining a “gray zone”, which creates a constant temptation for unpunished aggression from the Russian Federation) far exceeds the previously debated enlargement risks (to provoke the Russian Federation or accept inadequately prepared countries).
From the outset, the invasion essentially put an end to an important factor that generated skepticism about Ukraine’s membership in the EU and NATO; the alleged weakness of Ukraine, which some saw as an incapable, failing state that would not be able to adapt. Ukraine has passed the ultimate test in its war with Russia and has resisted both militarily and in the context of social resilience and fortitude an aggressor that is significantly superior. With this experience behind it, Ukraine should become a significant contributor to European security and stability rather than merely a client state.
Ukraine’s success in its EU and NATO accession will enable the creation of an effective safeguard against potential future attempts to restore the Russian imperial space, which require the presence of a “gray” buffer zone not covered by effective security guarantees (provided by NATO) or harmonized rules for the functioning of the democratic state, society and the market (provided by the EU).
Stereotypes about Russia in the West have been shaped over centuries. Today, these stereotypes include ideas about Russia’s grandeur, invincibility and overarching success in contrast to the secondary status of Ukraine; Russia’s right to have a sphere of influence; Russia’s exclusive right to Soviet heritage (including the moral heritage of the victim of and as the victor over Nazism); acceptance of the Russian version of history with respect to the countries and peoples of Eastern Europe and Northern Eurasia; Russian ownership of certain territories of Ukraine; the exceptional grandeur and importance of Russian culture, etc. These stereotypes have been reinforced by incredibly effective Russian propaganda and disinformation programs. At the same time, Russia’s imperial ambitions and aggressive actions, the collapse of democracy and the degradation of human rights in Russia have been downplayed. Economic cooperation with its authoritarian regime and the weak response to the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 gave Russia the confidence and financial resources to unleash the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The above stereotypes led to the West both overestimating Russia and underestimating Ukraine. That is why the West has been constantly surprised by Ukraine's resilience and its pursuit of integration with the West, contrary to all Russia’s efforts. The unanimity of the nationwide referendum on the independence of Ukraine in 1991, the Orange Revolution of 2004, the Revolution of Dignity of 2013-2014 and the armed struggle of 2014-2023 have challenged anti-Ukrainian stereotypes.
To overcome the stereotypes, the following approaches should be implemented:
The experience of Russian aggression proves that propaganda at the state level regarding war and genocide should elicit a strong response from the global community, up to the introduction of sanctions. The failure to respond to the propaganda campaign in support of the war ultimately leads to far worse consequences.
There will be no stable and sustainable peace in Europe if it contains a country that, in the worst tradition of the Dark Ages, has no respect for human rights and does not uphold them even with respect to its own citizens; that remains an empire that denies rights to its colonized indigenous peoples and national minorities; that uses the politics of historical memory, NGOs, religion and courts to justify and maintain totalitarian power;that pursues an aggressive foreign policy and expansive militarism instead of guaranteeing its people freedoms and other fundamental rights. The Russian Federation's aggression against Ukraine has shown the importance of decolonizing the Russian Federation and tackling the totalitarian nature of its power structures.
To ensure stable and sustainable peace in Europe, Russia must, first and foremost, bring its constitutional system, social structure and political systems in line with modern-day standards, de facto as well as de jure. This must happen before we can begin any discussion on the normalization of relations with Russia.
Firstly, the constitution of the Russian Federation should be brought in line with the internationally recognized standards stipulated in the recommendations of the Council of Europe and the Venice Commission. Firstly, this constitution should encompass:
Secondly, the systems in place in Russia should be brought into compliance with its constitution, which requires the following:
The experience of many countries that have rejected totalitarianism also testifies to the positive impact of abandoning one-person rule (monarch or president) and organizing power structures on the basis of political pluralism and parliamentarism.
As long as Russia remains an empire which rules over colonized peoples without recognizing their right to self-determination, and exploits the territories of the regions of the Federation in the interests of the political center and oligarchy, the chances of Russia becoming a democratic law-based European state are slim to none. This means that colonized and indigenous peoples, including residents of colonized territories, should be given the political support to exercise their right to self-determination as recognized by the UN's founding documents, if this is the clearly expressed will of these peoples. We should not be afraid of the possible formation of new independent states but should promote the democratic and peaceful nature of this process.
In addition to bringing the constitution and legislation in line with civilized standards, we should create the conditions for the transformation of public consciousness from supporting the imperialist aggressive concept of the “Ruskiy Mir” to respecting the dignity and freedoms of all nations and peoples. One tool to drive this process of transformation is lustration, a statutory ban on holding public positions and participating in public life (including teaching and speaking in the media) for 25 years for active participants in Putin’s totalitarian regime, which has cultivated hatred towards other peoples and anti-Western hysteria, revived Russian imperialism and justified its past crimes, resorting to the illegal use of armed forces in Chechnya, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine and committing crimes of genocide in Ukraine. This includes members of parliament who voted for the aggression against Ukraine; judges of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation who recognized the legality of the annexation of Crimea; managers, editors and journalists from political shows on state television channels; the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church, Muslim clerics and other religious figures who have promoted and approved the war; generals of the armed forces and employees of the FSB; members of the government and officials of the Russian presidential administration, etc.
The Cheka, NKVD, KGB and FSB should be recognized as criminal bodies in order to prevent any future attempts by their employees to seize power. Civilian control of the security sector should also be ensured.
The “normalization” of Russia is impossible without proper humanitarian policy measures. Similarly to the denazification of Hitler’s Germany after its defeat, this policy in the case of Russia should be focused on its “derashization”. This by no means implies the prohibition or infringement of Russian identity, language and culture (unlike what the Russian authorities did to Ukrainians and other peoples) but rather overcoming Russia's identification with “Great Rus” and the “Ruskiy Mir”. This identification contributes to the idea of “Russian Greatness” and resulting state policy, a sense of the historical exceptionalism of Russia as a separate civilization, and territorial claims toward allegedly “unhistorical” neighboring nations and attempts to establish a monopoly over their history.
To achieve this goal we need to: :
Modern Russia is the result of many centuries of bloody colonial expansion, the destruction of nations, cruel exploitation of people and suppression of human rights. The long history of oppression of both its neighbors and its own population has continued unchallenged into the modern era in which democracy, human rights and the principles of peaceful coexistence have become the basis of the modern world order. Without fundamental changes to its cultural, political and administrative traditions, even after its defeat, Russia risks turning into a revanchist state that poses a threat to future generations.
That is why Russia must be demilitarized, disarmed and prevented from starting a new war in Europe. The plans of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation to increase the armed forces to 1.5 million troops in the years 2023-2026, the creation of two new military districts (Moscow and Leningrad) and new mechanized and artillery divisions, the transformation of airborne and marine brigades into divisions, and the deployment of the army corps on the border with a future NATO member, Finland, indicate that, after some time, Russia will be willing to engage in aggression with larger and better-prepared forces using tactical nuclear weapons. By restoring the Soviet-era offensive divisional structure, the Russian Federation is transforming its armed forces to engage in strategic offensive actions.
There are several possible countries that could be Russia's next target. Aggression against the Baltic states and Poland is highly probable. Moldova and Romania in the south, Slovakia in the middle and Finland in the north of NATO’s eastern flank may become the next targets of Russian aggression. Unless the world seizes the momentum to fully demilitarize Russia while it is weakened by its lost war with Ukraine, it will soon have to deal with a new wave of Russian aggression. This will involve the use of tactical nuclear weapons, because Russia will never be strong enough with conventional weapons alone.
Ukraine will always be the first barrier to aggression from the east. And this is why Ukraine should be in NATO. We are not pursuing our future membership only in the context of security guarantees for Ukraine. Under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, our aim is to be, together with our NATO neighbors, the eastern shield of the Alliance against Russian aggression. Ukraine must be equipped with the best weapons and military equipment. NATO membership would be our contribution to common European security. Ukraine can become the cornerstone of NATO’s collective defense strategy.
As a nuclear aggressor state that has attacked a nuclear-free state, threatened to use nuclear weapons, seized nuclear energy facilities risking a large-scale nuclear accident, undermined the global nuclear non-proliferation regime and accelerated the development of such weapons in threshold countries, the demilitarization and denuclearization of Russia should be a vital component of the international community's response.
As a country that has resorted to aggression involving war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocidal practices, Russia should be prohibited from having a military presence outside its national borders, either in the official capacity of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation or through private military companies. All military bases outside the internationally recognized borders of the Russian Federation should be decommissioned. In order to prevent a new war in Europe, restrictions should be placed on Russia as part of new Conventional Armed Forces and Arms Control negotiations in Europe.
Demilitarization of the aggressor should include the following:
As an ally of the aggressor that provided its territory for an attack on Ukraine, Belarus should also be demilitarized.
The need to denuclearize Russia is dictated by the unprecedented attack by a nuclear state on a non-nuclear NPT signatory country, which voluntarily gave up its nuclear weapons. We believe that the United States, as the leading nuclear power, and other members of the “nuclear club” such as the United Kingdom, France and China — as countries responsible for the fate of the world — should initiate the process of the denuclearization of the Russian Federation. Denuclearization should be a precondition for the lifting of sanctions on Russia, and any attempts at evading denuclearization should lead to their strengthening up to the point of complete economic isolation of Russia as a potential threat to peace in Europe.
Russia has been using energy as a weapon, so its ability to continue to do so should be limited.
Achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions and the implementation of the EU Green Deal have already called into question the future use of all fossil fuels, including Russian oil and gas. Russia’s war against Ukraine should accelerate this process: the percentage of Russian energy resources in the European market is already being reduced to zero and will be replaced by renewable energy sources. Exports to the global market should be monitored by the international community.
As one of the key players in the global energy market, Russia has consistently failed to manage the revenues received from the sale of natural resources wisely, and instead of developing the prosperity of its regions, the revenues are frittered away due to corruption or spent on destroying the domestic opposition and waging wars against other countries. The non-interference of buyer countries (especially EU members) in what gas and oil funds are spent on is among the reasons for the wars initiated by Russia in Georgia and Ukraine, as it has pumped its huge profits into the Moscow regime. As global trade in oil and gas will continue for decades to come, changes are required to the principles of trade.
Better coordination of oil and gas importing countries will limit manipulations and blackmailing in the energy sector. The application of price caps and coordination of restrictions on maritime trade in Russian oil have proven that the world can benefit from a unified front.
The European Union has already started the process of joint gas purchases among member states. Creating an association of the largest buyers of energy resources to counterbalance OPEC and influence global energy policy could be a win-win.
Under the sanctions for violating international law and joint efforts to restore Russia’s contractual capacity, any sale of natural resources should be effected through a special account held by a specialized international agency, which will ensure that funds are invested only in the development of infrastructure and the welfare of Russian regions as well as in support for human rights. This agency should also redirect part of the profits to financing the recovery of Ukraine. Having suffered the severe destruction of more than 50 percent of its energy system, Ukraine would be justified in demanding that it be rebuilt using these funds on the principles of climate neutrality.
Learning the lessons of Russian aggression for the future of the energy sector means:
We, the authors of this manifesto and representatives of Ukrainian civil society, believe that the implementation of the ideas herein will prevent future aggression and ensure sustainable peace in the interests of all people — not only in Western Europe, but also in Central and Eastern Europe — through the motto “Never Again”.
Olga Aivazovska, Head of the Board Civil Network OPORA
Andriy Andrushkiv, Sergeant of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, MA in theology
Kostyantyn Batozskyy, political scientist
Oksana Dashchakivska, Head of representative Office of International Renaissance Foundation in Lviv, in her individual capacity
Orest Drul, editor, “Zbruč”
Mykhailo Gonchar, President of the CGS Strategy XXI, Chief Editor of the Black Sea Security Journal
Nataliya Gumenyuk, journalist
Yevhen Hlibovytskyy, CEO, pro.mova think tank
Hanna Hopko, Head of ANTS Network, co-founder of the International Center for Ukrainian Victory, Head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Ukrainian Parliament (2014-2019)
Volodymyr Horbach, Executive Director, Institute for Northern Eurasia Transformation
Yaroslav Hrytsak, professor, Ukrainian Catholic University
Pavlo Klimkin, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine (2014-2019)
Ihor Koliushko, Head of the Board, Centre for Policy and Legal Reforms
Oleksandra Matviichuk, head of the Center for Civil Liberties
Masi Nayyem, serviceman of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, attorney
Bohdan Pankevych, co-founder, member of the Board of the Ukrainian Galician party
Svyatoslav Pavlyuk, executive director of Energy Efficient Cities of Ukraine Association
Valerii Pekar, adjunct professor of Kyiv-Mohyla and Lviv business schools
Roman Romanov, Human Rights and Justice Program Director, International Renaissance Foundation, in his individual capacity
Dmytro Shulga, “Europe and the World” program director, International Renaissance Foundation, in his individual capacity
Taras Stetskiv, Member of the Parliament of Ukraine for five convocations
Oleksandr Sushko, Executive Director of International Renaissance Foundation, in his individual capacity
Mykola Vyhovskyy, civil activist
Alim Aliev, deputy director general of the Ukrainian Institute, executive board member of the PEN Ukraine
Maria Berlinska, civil society activist, veteran
Yevhen Bystrytsky, Ukrainian Philosophy Foundation
Larysa Denysenko, writer, human rights defender
Andrii Deshchytsia, acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine (2014)
Andrii Dligach, head of the Board, Coalition of business communities for modernization of Ukraine, professor, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv
Vladimir Dubrovskiy, Senior Economist at CASE Ukraine
Oleksandra Dvoretska, human rights defender
Evgen Dykyi, veteran of the Russian-Ukrainian war, publicist, biologist, director of the National Antarctic Scientific Center of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine
Leonid Finberg, Director, Center of Jewry Studies, National University Kyiv-Mohyla Academy
Serhii Filimonov, commander of Honor Special Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine
Oksana Forostyna, Opinion Editor at Ukraina Moderna, Europe’s Futures Fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences (Vienna)
Alyona Getmanchuk, Director, New Europe Center
Olena Halushka, International Center for Ukrainian Victory, co-founder
Yurij Holovatch, academician of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, chief researcher, Institute for Condensed Matter Physics, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
Cyril Hovorun, Professor of the University College Stockholm
Ihor Hyrych, Head of the 19th - Early 20th Century Ukrainian History Source Study Department at the M. Hrushevskyi Institute of Ukrainian Archaeography and Source Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
Ihor Isichenko, archbishop emeritus, professor of V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University
Sayid Ismahilov, head of Ukrainian Center of Islamic Research, military paramedic
Vakhtang Kebuladze, philosopher, writer, professor at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv
Maryna Khromykh, civil activist, Executive Director, DEJURE Foundation
Boris Khersonsky rector of KICPP, Academic Honoris Causa (Belgium), poet, translator
Vakhtang Kipiani, journalist
Marianna Kiyanovska, writer
Oleksandra Koltsova, songwriter, singer, media manager
George Kovalenko, rector of Open Orthodox University of Saint Sophia the Wisdom
Andriy Kurkov, author, member of PEN Ukraine
Svjatoslav Litynskyj, PhD, NGO Nezalezhni
Andriy Lyubka, writer
Myroslav Marynovych, Vice-Rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University
Hennadiy Maksak, Executive Director, Foreign Policy Council “Ukrainian Prism”
Gennadiy Mohnenko, pastor, founder of the "Mariupol Chaplain Battalion", president of the "Pilgrim" Charitable Foundation
Alina Mykhailova, deputy of Kyiv Council, servicewoman of the Armed Forces of Ukraine
Olesia Ostrovska-Liuta, theorist of culture, director of the National Art and Culture and Museum Complex “Mystetskyi Arsenal”
Serhii Plokhii, Professor, department of History, Harvard University
Yurko Prokhasko, author, translator, psychoanalyst
Vsevolod Rechytskyi, Associate-Professor at the Ukrainian Catholic University, Head of Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group Council
Olga Rudnieva, CEO Charitable Organization “Charitable Fund “SUPERHUMANS”
Mykola Riabchuk, Honorary President of PEN Ukraine
Oleh Rybachuk, head of Centre of United Actions NGO
Alla Samoilenko, casting director, Ukrainian Film academy board member
Akhtem Seitablayev, director, actor, director of the State Enterprise "Krymskyi Dim", junior sergeant of the Armed Forces of Ukrane
Iryna Solovey, philosopher, Garage Gang NGO
Vlad Troitskyi, director, founder of the Dakhabrah bands, the Dakh Daughters, NOVAOPERA project
Taras Vozniak, Editor-in-Chief of the Independent Cultural Journal Ï
Mychailo Wynnyckyj, Professor, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy
Oleh Yaskiv, scientist, cultural expert, vice-rector for scientific work of the Ukrainian Catholic University, officer of the Armed Forces of Ukraine
Oleksandr Yabchanka, officer of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, medical doctor, lecturer of Ukrainian Catholic University
Volodymyr Yermolenko, philosopher, president of PEN Ukraine, chief editor of UkraineWorld.org
Ihor Yukhnovskyi, academician of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
Rev. Andriy Zelinskyy, military chaplain UGCC, lecturer at the Ukrainian Catholic University, co-founder of the Ukrainian Leadership Academy, Head of Supervisory Board at the “Ukrainian Veterans Foundation”