Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and honourable members of the committee.
It's a great pleasure and honour for me to speak in front of you here, together with my colleagues. We all represent the same party. Even though we are in the opposition we are great supporters of the success of our country. It's also the greatest pleasure and honour to be here before you as you celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada, because Ukrainians were one of the first nations that came to Canada, and they contributed to the success of this country. As well, Canada was among the first to recognize Ukraine as an independent state and stood with us and stayed with us, and I believe will stay with us in our success as well.
I know that you are very well aware of what is going on in Ukraine. You travel to Ukraine. You've been to Ukraine recently. I would like to share different perspectives of the issue with you that you are quite well aware of. Those would be the perspectives of the major lessons learned after three years of our greatest challenge in the war with Russia.
First of all, I would like you to understand to what extent we are successful. We are really successful as a state. Unfortunately, the war that we are now passing through is the result of that success. If Ukraine were a failed state, as Russia very often claims, Russia would not have a reason to occupy Ukraine because Russia would embrace Ukraine in its failure. It's true that we are struggling a lot to build our institutions, and it's true that we are still suffering big challenges like corruption. Iegor will be able to speak more about that. But it is also true that we have been undertaking enormous efforts in the course of war to build those institutions, and we have done a lot already.
The second lesson that I believe is very important to understand is that currently nobody can decide for Ukraine without Ukraine. We just came from Washington, and we heard a very interesting reference that for some people Ukraine is considered an obstacle in the relations between Russia and the U.S. We understand that it is predetermined by the long tradition of the last century when Ukraine was considered not as a subject but as an object while decisions were made between big powers on the world settlement. But it cannot be like this anymore because compared to that period, Ukraine has already experienced 26 years of statehood and has has evolved into a huge nation with a very strong identity and determination. The people of Ukraine will not allow somebody to decide for them without them.
I will bring you recent examples of how the people of Ukraine have changed the path of their history. You remember the revolution of dignity, which definitely changed the path of Ukrainian history. But even in the course of the Russian occupation, decisions were changed four times because of the people's will. The first wave of the Russian occupation started as the Novorossiya project. It was a regional coup to change the governments in the regions. It succeeded only in Donetsk and Luhansk. Do you realize why? It happened only because people in Dnipro, Odessa, and Kharkiv didn't support it. They said no to the FSN guys and decided to take a different path.
Because Russia failed in the first wave, the second wave was a military occupation by Russian proxies from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Russia put a lot of effort into destroying the Ukrainian army as an institution, and they expected to succeed. But Ukrainian volunteer battalions and Ukrainian volunteers actually challenged the Russian proxies, and they would have succeeded if Russia had not employed the regular army on Ukrainian territory.
Then the third wave started. It was an attempt at legal occupation. That was in Minsk, and it was through amendments to Ukrainian constitutions. Then again, when the Ukrainian people interfered and were so definite in saying no, the Ukrainian parliament didn't dare to vote for it.
Then Russia exploited the fourth wave of occupation, which was hidden economic colonization through trade with the occupied territories and the dependence of the Ukrainian economy on the occupied territories.
Again the people of Ukraine said no. Quite recently, you'll remember, there was a blockade of trade with the occupied territories. It was the decision of the Ukrainian people, of veterans who said no to this, and the government had to support the decision.
I'm giving these examples to have a common understanding that we should not even try—nobody should try—to decide something that the people of Ukraine would not support.
The final lesson concerns what we should do in this situation. The obvious idea is that, since Ukraine is now still weak as a state and as an institution, even though successful, we have to build more success in the territories we control by isolating temporarily the occupied part of Ukraine.
We have just to legally acknowledge the illegal occupation of Ukraine. With this instrument we can actually invoke international law in the occupied territories. We can protect, via international humanitarian law, people in the occupied territories and other prisoners of war. We can protect and we can support the Ukrainian army in this. We can also, of course, isolate the danger existing in the occupied territories.
It was like the case between western and eastern Germany when western Germany had to decide—Mr. Adenauer had to decide—between freedom and unity. They chose freedom at that moment to re-establish unity later on. When we spoke out on this to one of the very high officials in the EU, he told us that Europe could afford that, because Germany had an offer from the world. Germany had an offer from the EU and from NATO. The official said that they had not offer for us.
That is what was said, and we are quite aware that nobody except Russia has an offer for Ukraine right now, but Ukraine has an offer for the world already, because we believe that.... First of all we have the army. It is the biggest army in Europe, just so that you understand. Even though it may not be the best equipped, it's the most experienced, having its own unique experience and your soldiers, who are helping Ukrainians to raise their professional standards. They probably benefit from this experience as well.
We have a very great economic potential to develop, but most of all I believe we have the inherited memory and understanding of the Ukrainian people. I believe that this essential knowledge, which came from history and experience, has to be learned by all of us to understand how it can be used for the reset of the future international legal and security order.
With this, I would like to give you the floor for questions, because I believe you have a lot of them.
Thank you very much.