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Resilience of Ukrainian democracy under the conditions of war – 26th Ukraine Breakfast Debate


How can Ukraine's progress in such key areas as rule of law and decentralisation be secured during the war and for the time after? At the Ukraine Breakfast Debate, we discussed this challenge and the role of civil society in it.

Ukraine has developed democratically in recent years through reforms. The expansion of the Russian war since February 2022 represents a caesura that has severely challenged both the Ukrainian state and civil society.

"The biggest threat right now is: we are losing our best people. People who could push the state forward are dying in this war", were the cautionary words of one speaker. To maintain democratic development, the success of the Ukrainian armed forces against the Russian aggressor is crucial above all.

As far as the local administration was concerned, surveys showed that a large share (42%) of the authorities were able to return to their former way of working within a few weeks of the invasion or liberation from occupation. Cooperation between local authorities and with international partners has proven to be important. More flexibility is required from foreign donor institutions due to the often rapidly changing conditions during war.

One clear warning concerned judicial reform. The disputes over the appointment of the Constitutional Court are threatening to endanger its independence in the long term. International partners should use their influence on the Ukrainian state. It is not without reason that the European Commission has made the judiciary a priority – five of the seven points of demand to Ukraine concern this area.

The 26th Ukraine Breakfast Debate took place under the title "Resilience of Ukrainian democracy under the conditions of war". The speakers were Mariia Zolkina, security policy expert from the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation (DIF, Kyiv) and currently Research Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Mykhailo Zhernakov, Co-founder and Chair of the Board of the DEJURE Foundation in Kyiv and Oksana Huss, researcher in the BIT-ACT research project at the University of Bologna and lecturer at the National University Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. The event was moderated by our colleague Ljudmyla Melnyk.

The Ukraine Breakfast Debates are part of the project "German-Ukrainian Researchers Network" (GURN 2) and are kindly supported by the German Federal Foreign Office.

Team & authors

About the GURN – German Ukrainian Researchers Network project: The cooperation between think tanks and politics are strengthened. GURN focuses on knowledge transfer, capacity building and bilateral dialogue. Current developments and German-Ukrainian relations are discussed in a variety of formats.

Image copyright: GURN