Countries should promote peace and resist warmongers

A view shows an apartment building damaged by shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine February 26, 2022. [AP Photo]

At a time of global instability, our two nations have much to gain in banding together around our shared belief in democracy and the right to self-determination. Ukraine and Kenya appreciate the need to defend themselves from larger and more powerful aggressors to ensure our future independence.

The world is a very dangerous place right now. Regional conflicts could very easily escalate into something much bigger causing unthinkable levels of destruction and societal collapse. In such a perilous environment, countries like Ukraine and Kenya should act in unison to strengthen the cause of peace and resist those who crave war and conflict.

Coming at this time of global crisis, my visit to Kenya is an opportunity to meet lawmakers, government, and civil society to discuss how we can build closer relations for our mutual benefit. I believe there is a strong basis for greater unity to ensure a prosperous future for our two countries.

My background as a human rights lawyer means I value freedom and our democratic institutions. The war in Ukraine has taught me that those values we hold dearest must be defended with vigour and determination. Tragically, there are larger, bullying powers in this world who have no regard for our independence and the right to govern our own affairs.

Kenya had to fight for its independence. It was a bitter struggle against colonialism that echoes to the present day. We feel a great deal of empathy as our own territory is compromised and overrun by invading Russian forces. Smaller yet vigorous nations like Kenya and Ukraine must band together to make our voice heard on the global stage and defend our interests and values.

This is not just about our shared values, but about practical cooperation. In many sectors, we have much to gain from more collaboration in the years ahead. Agriculture is an obvious area. The whole issue of food insecurity concerns millions of people as they struggle to put food on the family table.

The success of our agriculture sector is of key importance to Africa, and we are determined to ensure the supply of wheat, corn, and other affordable food products despite the disruption caused by Russia’s invasion of our country and attempts to wreck us economically.

Ukraine rightly views Kenya as a grain hub for the African continent where we and your country work together to make sure families do not go without their daily bread. What could be more essential than guaranteeing this basic need? Following a meeting between our two presidents at the United Nations last year, our governments agreed that this was a goal for which we should strive. The alternative is too terrible to contemplate as food supplies could be cut off by Russian aggression or become very expensive and beyond the reach of many consumers.

Ukraine is as appalled as Kenya that Russia has chosen to weaponise the supply of food and energy to other countries. This has caused widespread misery, instability, and poverty. It is the deliberate creation of unnecessary hunger to achieve Russia’s goals. Yet despite the efforts of Moscow to halt grain supplies, Ukraine has done its utmost to find routes to bring these foodstuffs to Africa without delay. But sadly, the Kremlin continues to play politics with food.

To protect our agricultural sector in this time of war, we have developed cutting edge technologies. Drones used for surveillance on the battlefield during the Russian invasion have been deployed to bring farmland back into use for growing foodstuffs. For example, tackling those areas currently inaccessible to farmers because of Russian mines or the poisoning of soil by chemicals.

Some of these drones can even spray pesticides with incredible precision. Not only can this Agri-Tech be rolled out in Ukraine, but we can share this expertise, developed in the heat of war, with our friends and partners in Kenya.

Like Kenya, we have been wrestling with our colonial past having freed ourselves from the former Soviet Union and now find ourselves fighting once more for our independence from Russian armed aggression. One way we have addressed this issue is by growing our digital sector to become a global champion. We recognise that digital is key to our future strength and security. Our use of digital has been driven by the requirements of war but increasingly we are identifying peaceful applications that could benefit both our countries.
 
One of our ambitions is to create a digital state with all our public services easily accessible online by Ukrainian citizens. This includes documents like passports, student cards, and vehicle registration.

The private sector in Ukraine has been following the government’s lead and digitising their activities, which has encouraged entrepreneurs and increased the rate of business formation.

This digitalisation of public and private sectors has strengthened our society creating better governance and accountability. It also enhances public satisfaction in their interactions with state bodies and companies. This is an area where we would value collaboration with Kenya sharing ideas and expertise.

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