Surviving Winter: Understanding Ukraine’s Needs and Challenges

ukraine winter

On November 25th, GLOBSEC’s Ukrainian fellows Dmytro TuzhanskyiMaksak Hennadiy, and Zoriana Mishchuk came together in Brussels to discuss the evolution of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The event gathered participants from European institutions and the general public to explore how the European Union can help Ukraine through this winter. 

As the war in Ukraine continues, Russia is facing significant battlefield defeats. Kyiv remains reliant on substantial external support for its war effort, clearing mined areas, and rebuilding regions devastated by the war. In the meantime, Moscow has also ramped up its attacks on critical infrastructure in an effort to overcome Ukrainian defences, using missiles and a myriad of drones. At the beginning of November, Russia destroyed about 40% of the energy infrastructure in Ukraine, which could have devastating impacts during the winter.

This panel discussion, hosted by the Belgian NGO Promote Ukraine, presented the results of several research projects conducted by the GLOBSEC Ukraine Programme. The speakers highlighted that the risk of a war of attrition would be especially high in the coming months. The provision of military material, energy power generators, storage, and component parts to repair the infrastructure will determine the future of this war. Dropping temperatures, along with scarce electricity and water, could force even more Ukrainians to seek shelter in neighbouring countries. Meanwhile, refugees in the EU face an uncertain future and the dilemma of investing in their new lives in foreign countries while thinking of returning to their home country. 

The key takeaways of the discussion include the need for: 

  • Coordination: all actors involved in providing humanitarian support for Ukraine and welcoming refugees in the EU should increase dialogue and coordination among themselves.  
  • Communication: there is a risk that Ukrainians’ life-threatening situation will fade away from attention in the current maelstrom of crises. It will be crucial to explain why the country still needs a high level of support, why this is in the EU’s best interest, and how the EU can provide it. 
  • Courage: despite mounting costs and difficulties, the community of Europeans must find the courage to face Russian threats and aggression together and continue supporting Ukraine through this winter.