Ukraine proved herself as a country in 2022. The Ukrainian political nation, together with its national and democratic identity, was finally established.

Ukrainians continue to endure Russian missile terror and all the hardships of life that come with the absence of electricity, water and heating. The Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) have grabbed the strategic initiative on the front and are preparing for a new offensive.

Ukraine has turned into an influential subject of international politics, while Russia is, on the contrary, increasingly becoming a foreign policy pariah.

Read more about these and other events of 2022 in the review prepared by the Information Defense Project.

Ukrainians are now a single political nation

A single European Ukrainian political nation with its own political identity was finally formed in 2022. Age, language and regional differences are gradually leveling off and disappearing. And although they still exist, they no longer have such a critically large difference.

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Ukrainians have been committed to democratic values, and the war, paradoxically, has increased this commitment. Before the beginning of the large-scale aggression, the number of our fellow citizens who considered “democracy to be the most desirable state system” was 56 percent. In the fall of 2022, their number increased to 68 percent.

Ukrainians finally decided on their civilizational choice and confirmed that Ukraine is a member of the European family of nations. When choosing between two models of social development - European and Russian - 70 percent of respondents prefer the European model, with just 0.5 percent preferring the Russian model.

Germany Arrests Two Over Military Base Attack Plot for Russia, Aimed at Undermining Support for Ukraine
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Germany Arrests Two Over Military Base Attack Plot for Russia, Aimed at Undermining Support for Ukraine

The main accused, Dieter S., is alleged to have scouted potential targets for attacks, "including facilities of the US armed forces" stationed in Germany.

Ukraine is a country that continues to show resistance

Russian President Putin, when ordering his unprovoked attack on Ukraine, expected our country to cease to exist as a sovereign, independent country.

But President Zelensky stayed in Kyiv and, in accordance with his constitutional powers, led the armed resistance, which was quite unexpected taking into account his previous lack of experience. Almost 90 percent of Ukrainians now support the actions of the Ukrainian head of state.

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The country’s political forces concluded an agreement on a temporary truce for the wartime period. At the same time, the political fight continues in the background, and not in public.

Despite the panic and desperation seen in the first days of Russian aggression, the infiltration of Russian agents into the state authorities and numerous cases of state treason, the system of state and military administration has shown its resilience.

The executive branch of power, the law-enforcement system, is  functioning continually, although not in public form, while Parliament - the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine - has only adopting bills from time to time (between Feb.  24 and Sept. 6, just 229 bills were passed). The country’s courts still hand down judgments and convictions.

Ukraine is fulfilling  its social functions

Hospitals continue to receive patients and carry out planned operations. Thanks to the dedicated work of doctors most of those wounded on the front can be saved and rehabilitated back to everyday life.

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Our children study at schools and universities. Now, it is true that the education process takes place until children and their teachers hear the sounds of air raid sirens, and classes are interrupted by movement to bomb shelters, but they take place, whether offline or online.

The social protection system is operating which, thanks to the efforts of volunteers, has acquired new qualitative changes.

At the same time, when volunteers and honest civil servants are doing everything possible to provide help to displaced persons, anti-corruption agencies are initiating criminal proceedings for the theft of humanitarian aid in the Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration.

Pensions are being paid out on time and without delay to more than 13 million pensioners. For this, we express "a big thank you" to the U.S. and the European Union for providing multibillion-dollar macro-financial assistance to cover the big deficit in the state budget.

Mobile communication and the Internet are functioning, albeit with interruptions. The railway system is working constantly. Trains regularly go to front-line cities (for example, to Kramatorsk, which is 60 kilometers from Bakhmut) and to de-occupied cities like Kherson.

Municipal and communal services operate in all cities of the country, except for the frontline ones. Energy companies, heating companies and water suppliers constantly repair and restore critical infrastructure systems that are destroyed as a result of missile strikes by aggressor state Russia.

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At the same time, about 6-8 million people, mainly women and children, fleeing the war, left Ukraine and live temporarily in many European countries.

The threat of recession coming to the Ukrainian economy

According to forecasts by experts, the fall in the country’s GDP will reach about 33 percent for 2022, and inflation will hit 31 percent. The country’s foreign debt increased by $10 billion dollars for the year and now stands at almost $58 billion. Revenues from taxation and customs to the state budget have decreased significantly.

The following areas of the economy have been most affected and require large investments or are related to logistics: metallurgy, mechanical engineering, and tourism.

Most of the large industrial enterprises in Eastern Ukraine, for example in Mariupol, are located in temporarily-occupied territories, and have either been destroyed or simply no longer operate.

As a result of missile terror on a massive scale, national energy-generating facilities were destroyed, which had led to a shortage of energy, as well as the energy infrastructure itself, which makes it impossible to ensure power transmission to consumers.

Small and medium size businesses have received heavy blows, but have demonstrated the miracle of adapting to new realities. Some entrepreneurs have relocated their offices, plants and enterprises or simply adapted to new business conditions.

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Some 45 million tons of grain and legumes were harvested this year, which is 40 million tons less than in 2021. The arable lands of Mykolaiv, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson Regions were not cultivated this year due to their territories being occupied by Russian invasion forces.

Neither was there a catastrophic "banking collapse" this year, with the banking system demonstrating strong stress resistance. The value of the hryvnia to the dollar fell by 50 percent (!). And this is in wartime conditions.

Most Ukrainians have survived. They have survived in spite of the lack of heat, electricity and water, the brutality of war and the threat of dying, the difficult economic conditions, rising prices and the impossibility of finding a decent job.

None of these privations prevent them from being optimistic about the future and believing in the country’s victory over the Russian invaders.

AFU are main guarantor of Ukrainian  independence

The AFU have grabbed the strategic initiative on the front and are getting ready for a new offensive.

As a result of brilliant operations by the AFU, the Russians sustained terrible losses near Kharkiv and Kherson, 28 percent  (or more than 41,000 square kilometers) of previously occupied territories were de-occupied. Now, 96 percent (!) of Ukrainians trust the AFU, and about the same number of people trust volunteers.

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The AFU have gained invaluable combat experience; they are gradually being modernized in line with modern NATO standards, and are receiving modern weapons and equipment. The AFU are the guarantor not only of Ukraine’s independence; they are also the guarantor of the security of NATO countries.

Ukraine is an influential subject on the world political stage

Ukraine has increased its influence on the decisions of the G-20, which unites countries that control more than 80 percent of the world economy, on the decisions of the UN and G-7, which actually turned into the G-8 due to Ukraine's informal entry into it.

An influential anti-Russian coalition has been formed, the main engine of which is the United States. The UK, Poland, Baltic Countries, Czech Republic, and Slovakia all take a firm position of support for Ukraine.

It is through the Rammstein format, which brings together about 50 countries, that the supply of weapons to Ukraine has been coordinated.

Ukraine has become a candidate for joining the European Union and is doing its "homework" with this end in mind under the sounds of air raids and missile attacks.

World geopolitics has become largely Ukrainian-centric. The course and results of the Russian-Ukrainian war have already impacted the relations of countries located on the other side of the globe, such as China and Taiwan, and they will also determine the new architecture of the World Security Organization, founded back in 1994, in the near future.

Ukraine’s now a strategic partner of U.S.

Over the past year, the U.S. has gone from "preventing the quick defeat of Ukraine" in February 2022 to "ensuring the victory of Ukraine, preventing the quick defeat of Russia and direct military conflict between NATO and the Russian Federation" at the end of 2022.

The last formula determined the speed and volume of arms deliveries to the U.S., which came to more than $21 billion in 2022. According to preliminary forecasts by Western experts, the supply of modern Western weapons could lead to an uncontrolled escalation of hostilities, Russia’s rapid defeat and its disintegration into separate territories, the "spread" of nuclear weapons and/or their use against Ukraine and NATO countries as the "last argument of kings".

At the same time, the U.S. is gradually changing its policy. The recent  decision to supply the Patriot air defense/anti-missile systems has become a kind of signal to other Western countries to increase  military-technical assistance to Ukraine. Deliveries of Leopard-2 tanks and Swedish JAS-39 Gripen fighters to Ukraine will become reality in 2023.

Bipartisan support for aid to Ukraine, which will reach $45 billion in 2023, still remains after the midterm elections to the U.S. Congress. At the same time, the conditions for providing it will become tougher, and reporting for its use will be more transparent and stricter.

"Old Europe" and Ukraine: new political friendship against  backdrop of war

The change in the position of the countries of "Old Europe", primarily Germany and France, has become even more dramatic. These countries have always tried to build relations with Putin's Russia as a democratic, civilized country, developing economic ties with it, and gradually integrating it into the common European civilizational, humanitarian and informational space.

The beginning of large-scale Russian aggression led to huge disappointment in "Old Europe" in its hitherto pro-Russian policy. This duly became especially dramatic after the genocide carried out by Russian invaders in the towns of Bucha and Irpin.

The quintessence of a new understanding of the place and role of countries of "Old Europe", primarily Germany and France, was expressed by Federal President Frack-Walter Steinmeier in his program article - the previous policy towards Russia was wrong, and there’s a need to step up European security, abandon the consumption of Russian energy resources, which turned out to be a kind of weapon of political and economic blackmail, and modernize its own armed forces and strengthen NATO.

The path to this position was quite long and not always straight. And at the beginning of December 2022, French President Emmanuel Macron even returned to the "old mantras", declaring the need to provide some security guarantees to Putin and Russia.

However, on Dec. 12, a statement was adopted by G-7 leaders, which "guaranteed" Putin only a fair trial in accordance with the norms of international law.

Formation of new bipolar world

The Russian-Ukrainian war has led to the formation of a bipolar world - the American-Chinese one. The final such bipolarity was formalized on the eve of the G-20 summit in November 2022 in Indonesia during the meeting between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Russia claimed the role of second pole, but its actual military and political defeat in Ukraine has nullified all its claims.

Exacerbation of the elite conflict as a result of Russia's defeats

The AFU was victorious over Russian occupying forces near Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Kherson and actually determined Russia's defeat in the war. The losses suffered by Russian occupying forces as of Jan. 1, 2023 came to at least 103,000 people.

Such a catastrophic turn of events for the aggressor seriously exacerbated the contradictions between various influential groups that make up the Russian political class. The conflict is already a public one, which undermines the legitimacy of the Putin regime. At the same time, the vast majority of Russian society supports the Putin regime and Russia's aggressive war against Ukraine.

Decline of Russian economy

According to estimates, the decline in Russia's GDP will reach about 3-4 percent. The setting of ceiling prices for oil has reduced its selling price.

Yes, Russia sells oil to India for $32-34, way  below the limit set of $60. This leads to a significant fall in state budget revenues, problems with financing social programs, and increased tension within society.

In 2022, mega international corporations with combined revenues of $36 billion left the Russian market, and several dozen more companies with revenues of $87 billion are preparing to exit.

Around 15,000 millionaires may have left the Russian Federation by the end of the year. This has been a powerful blow to the Russian economy but is set to have even more impactful consequences in the medium and long terms, especially in high-tech areas.

Russia is international outcast of the year

As a result of political, economic and personal sanctions, the international isolation of Russia has taken hold on the international arena, and its traditional humanitarian and financial ties, and oil and gas markets, are being destroyed.

Traditional allies, primarily China, are trying to distance themselves from the aggressor state.

Instead of an expected collapse, NATO has stepped up the coordination of its security efforts. Finland and Sweden are now very close to having their applications for membership of NATO ratified, which will lead to  Russia's land border with NATO increasing by 2,000 kilometers.

Ihor Zhdanov is a co-founder of the Open Policy Foundation, a non-government organization (NGO) in Ukraine.

The views expressed are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.

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