EU and Western Balkan States Articles
Creating Ukraine’s National Resilience System for Recovery After Russian Aggression
(Year 4, No. 1-2, 2023. EU and Western Balkan states)
20 Aug 2023 08:40:00 PM


Viacheslav SEMENENKO, PhD, colonel
Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine

Andrii IVASHCHENKO, PhD, col. ret.
The leading researcher of the Center for Military and Strategic Studies of the National Defence University of Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine


Abstract: The article by Ukrainian authors provides their view on the unprovoked and illegal military aggression by Russia, which became a real crash test for national resilience. It has caused a rapidly growing refugee crisis, a blow to the world economy, and a test of the resilience of European solidarity. They examine the key principles for forming a successful strategy for the recovery of Ukraine's national resilience system after Russian aggression


Keywords: resilience, Ukraine's National Resilience System, strategy for ensuring national resilience, Russian-Ukrainian war, Russian aggression, Ukraine, hybrid warfare.


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In May, Russia launched 566 missiles and drones (185 missiles and 381 drones) at Ukraine. Most of them were launched in Kyiv. As a result, our powerful Air Defence destroyed 88 % of them (496 missiles and drones: 154 missiles and 342 drones).

We remind you, the use of weapons of mass destruction against civilians is a crime against humanity and a violation of the four Geneva Conventions.

But we would like to notify you of another thing: after these attacks on Kyiv, the city is operating as usual, public transport, supermarkets, and restaurants are open, and many people attended the Kyiv Day events. 

This is a sign of a high level of real, not theoretical, resilience of our society, and Ukraine!


Ukraine became the object of unprovoked and illegal military aggression by Russia with the direct support of Belarus, which became the realization of the final phase of hybrid aggression. This aggression has been carried out without stopping all the time since the independence of Ukraine. Economic blackmail, gas wars, the Budapest memorandum, internal destabilization, the 5th column and Russian citizens in the Ukrainian government, the Russian church in Ukraine, the distribution of pro-Russian content in Ukraine’s information field, etc. All of these events were elements of Russian “soft power” against Ukraine which created favorable conditions for the final blow by the so-called 2nd army of the world.

The full-scale invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, 2022. But Ukraine is stable and inspires the world. All Ukrainians stayed together to fight against Russia. Our unity is the foundation of our resilience.

This war led not only to human casualties and significant losses for the economy of Ukraine but also became a real crash test for national resilience. The infrastructure, especially the energy sector, is partially damaged, and attacks and destruction continue. Maintaining national resilience in wartime is becoming more and more difficult. 

The war has caused a rapidly growing refugee crisis, with more than 4.5 million refugees and 11 million internally displaced people. The actual number is much higher. The longer and more persistent Ukrainian resistance is, the greater the probability of Russia’s use of a more aggressive strategy. It will take years to restore the national resilience system.

The hardships caused by war are not limited to countries at war. The war was a serious blow to the world economy, a test of the resilience of European solidarity. The President of the World Bank called the war in Ukraine “a catastrophe for the world”, emphasizing the fact that the impact of the war went beyond the borders of Ukraine.

Given the negative consequences of a full-scale war, early planning for the restoration of the national resilience system becomes especially important.

Therefore, a prolonged war allows for the consolidation of the gains achieved through the aid of other nations. After the active phase, there are opportunities for implementing transformative reforms, conducting a thorough evaluation of the reasons and effects of war, and finding solutions to political, economic, military, and security issues. This challenging task requires considering multiple, at times conflicting, aspects of the national resilience system. 

Ukraine faces several major challenges:

1) safeguarding national security and defence; 

2) reintegrating former combatants and refugees into a peaceful society; 

3) reconstructing critical infrastructure;

4) humanitarian demining; 

5) restoring investor trust;

6) enhancing mechanisms for ensuring the rule of law and justice during the transitional period.


Due to the massive destruction, this task will require substantial resources and may take several years to complete, even with optimal conditions. Discussions about reconstruction are already underway. At the same time, many questions remain open, including the possibility of using confiscated Russian assets to ensure recovery. 

So far, there is no detailed strategy for ensuring national resilience after the end of the active phase, but Ukraine’s status as a member of the EU and NATO will significantly contribute to its effective realization. 


By studying the recovery of other countries after a crisis, we can identify key principles for forming a successful strategy:

first of all, post-conflict recovery was largely managed by the host country or host countries, often funded by the US (such as Western European countries after World War II);

second, reconstruction and recovery contributed to economic liberalization (such as in Sudan, Egypt, Mozambique, Latin America, and others);

third, the impact of foreign aid on the growth of a war-torn economy can in some cases become negative: the country becomes dependent on aid and cannot implement an effective model of economic growth (such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mozambique, Uganda);

fourth, the strategy and practice of foreign aid hinder the creation of jobs necessary to raise the population’s standard of living, which does not contribute to ensuring national resilience and long-term peace (such as in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, and Iraq).


Other features of the strategy of forming a system for ensuring national resilience include:

1) the need for strict security guarantees similar to those of NATO members;

2) substantial economic load on both Ukraine and the international community;

3) a wide range of international actors that will participate in reconstruction: The United Nations, international financial institutions, development organizations, bilateral and regional donors, and non-governmental organizations;

4) disarmament, reduction of Armed Forces and reintegration of ex-servicemen, and various other aspects of security sector reform will become one of the key issues of ensuring national resilience;

5) post-conflict recovery and formation of the national resilience system must be started before the end of the active phase of the war;

6) economic recovery is a priority to support the national resilience system;

7) donors will not begin to support economic reconstruction if there is no national contribution to the creation of an environment that is conducive to ensuring the sustainability of such reconstruction;

8) the success of a national resilience system largely depends on the efforts of local governments, communities, individual activists, households, and businesses to boost economic activity after a war; although this approach puts local actors, institutions, and resources at the centre, it also recognizes the critical role of external assistance;

9) aid does not affect the growth of the population’s standard of living, but contributes to the formation of a national resilience system;

10) the strength of a nation's resilience is dependent on factors such as budget surpluses, inflation rates, and trade openness. A well-balanced and efficient domestic policy can provide aid for growth, but simply increasing aid does not guarantee national resilience;

11) typically, when aid is distributed, countries with a significant level of resilience are given priority;

12) resilience is not just about physical or economic recovery; it can never be completely separated from politics. And the challenges ahead will rarely be driven by humanitarian or economic needs alone.



Consequently, the decisions made by the West during the war suggest that the EU will be given a significant role in the reconstruction process. The West's response is becoming more decisive and cohesive, with a focus on ensuring stability in Europe, reducing energy reliance on Russia, and strengthening the European defence system. 

So, the resolution of the Ukrainian issue in the near future will be crucial for the future of European security and a test of the strength of European solidarity.


Good intentions must have fists! 

We know it one hundred per cent!


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