Ukrainian Institute

How to respond to the «dialogues of reconciliation» between Russians and Ukrainians – Sheiko


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Director of Ukrainian Institute Volodymyr Sheiko took part in the conference about the «dialogues of reconciliation» between Russians and Ukrainians. This event was organized by British Academy in Cambridge University.

«In order to discuss or report on Russia’s war in Ukraine, it is essential to understand the nature of the conflict. Russia’s attempts to pacify, consume, homogenise, subdue, and colonise Ukraine have been going on for centuries», – Sheiko says and highlighted several theses:


  • Today’s Russian invasion is a neocolonial war on a sovereign and peaceful country, an attempt to restore Russia’s imperial geopolitical blueprint. Ukraine’s resistance is a decolonial struggle to break away from the former empire and to continue nurturing a pro-Western political nation. Therefore, both countries’ existential objectives are mutually exclusive.


  • Attempts of Western institutions to «reconcile» Ukraine and Russia and provide a platform for dialogue (which Ukraine didn’t ask for) are deeply colonial and arrogant. Such is the sentiment for «the great Russian culture» and refusal to suspend cultural cooperation with Russia. It is morally bankrupt to launch programmes to support Belarussian and Russian artists alongside Ukrainian artists because Ukraine’s suffering in this war is simply incomparable.


  • Any reconciliation with Russia can truly begin ONLY after Russia fully withdraws from Ukraine, including Crimea and Donbas, and an international tribunal holds Russia accountable for its war crimes. Putin’s reign must end, and the next democratic leadership, the media and the civil society must unconditionally condemn and apologise for the invasion of Ukraine. Any reconciliation can begin only after Russia takes full responsibility for its actions.


  • Until then, any hastened and premature «reconciliation» would be very dangerous, leading to a new round of re-colonisation of Ukraine on existing constructs and vocabulary. No dialogue should be possible without Ukraine’s consent and participation.


  • Not everything can be fixed and forgiven, we must accept this.


  • Decolonial studies have a huge challenge ahead: how to make sense of what to do with Russia after the war in Ukraine. This war is a chance to change and decolonise perspectives of Western intellectuals and academia.


The Ukrainian Institute (Ukrainian: Український інститут) is a public institution of Ukraine that represents Ukrainian culture in the world and forms a positive image of Ukraine abroad. The institute was founded by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in 2017 and is affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. It fully began its activities in the summer of 2018, after the appointment to the position of General Director Volodymyr Sheiko, as a result of an open competition and the creation of a team of specialists.


As mentioned before, Ukrainian Institute make a call to international academic institutions to suspend cooperation with Russia