The indissoluble link between business and war: UBN held a second event in Kyiv

Friday, March 22, 2024
The indissoluble link between business and war: UBN held a second event in Kyiv

On a still cool but already spring day, amid a tangle of bad news and public concerns about the future hanging in the air of Kyiv’s streets, a circle of selected business investors, entrepreneurs and officials gathered to discuss the economic and political prospects that await Ukraine in the coming years.

The event was organized by UBN Network, which, in a private format, brings together industry leaders, business owners, and leading managers of domestic and international companies doing business in Ukraine. As part of the main goal of the community — to help businesses effectively navigate the Ukrainian market — co-founders Andrew Pryma and Mark McNamee facilitated the gathering, with its presentations and valuable networking opportunity, sharing with their guests exclusive information about the state of the business environment in Ukraine.

Before considering global macroeconomic forecasts, Ukraine’s strategic prospects, various scenarios and consequences of the war, as well as market dynamics, special attention was paid to the process of Ukraine’s integration into the EU and NATO.

To that end, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine Olha Stefanishyna spoke exhaustively about the fulfilled conditions of the EU, as well as Ukraine’s successes and obstacles on the way to joining the Union.

As Ms. Stefanishyna noted, despite the fact that Ukraine is just starting accession negotiations, in fact, in a number of areas it already has a high level of compliance with the main European standards. In addition, Ukraine is a large part of the EU market. Specifically, we are talking about integration into the energy and labor markets, customs, and trade liberalization. Equally important is the fact that even before the Russian full-scale invasion, Ukraine was one of the top 20 exporters of various products to the EU.


The indissoluble link between business and war: UBN held a second event in Kyiv
Olha Stefanishyna is speaking about Ukraine’s Euro integration process.


It is no secret that joining the EU will offer Ukraine a lot of financial resources and opportunities, so now the goal is to become a member of the EU as soon as possible. One of the driving forces that will shape Ukraine’s position in the negotiations should be the Ukrainian economy. And every legal and political decision should be made with the understanding that Ukraine will become a member of the EU, that is, in full compliance with the standards.

For now, Ukraine can highlight the main priorities of the association:

  1. accelerating legal rapprochement in agriculture and transport;
  2. awareness by Ukrainian and foreign enterprises operating in Ukraine that Ukraine is now part of the Eastern European market;
  3. green transition, fulfilling the obligations of the Paris Agreement to regulate measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

However, returning to the economy as a driving force in the process of European integration, the question arises about its state. As the last three or four months have been rather difficult, many businesses have felt the pressure.

Regardless, despite a certain level of pessimism arising from the fact that Ukraine will be unable to launch a large-scale offensive this year, general optimism remains.


First, the overall results for 2023 are actually very positive:

  1. 70% of businesses have reached their actual revenue targets;
  2. Even more companies have become profitable, which shows strong management;
  3. 60% of the market expects a certain level of growth, although 40% does not;
  4. 63% of businesses are confident that they will be able to achieve their goals;
  5. about 75% of the market is quite optimistic about business in Ukraine in the medium and long term.

Second, while global growth is not accelerating this year, it still exceeds expectations. Accumulated inflation of the last several years continues to weigh on growth around the world, despite the slowdown seen the last few months. Against this background, Ukraine’s growth rate – well above global growth rates – is more attractive than in most markets, and with the potential for a major acceleration amid reconstruction upon the war’s end.

Third, prices for energy, oil, metals and food products are moderating, helping reduce some of the pressure and offset higher labor costs. At the same time, Russia will be limited in financing the war. And while its economy now seems more or less resilient, it is short — term resilience. Unfortunately not fast enough, but Western sanctions are still gaining momentum.

Taking this macro environment into account, there was a discussion on planning business strategies through 2025 and beyond. It was attended by Chairman of the Board of Piraeus Bank in Ukraine Ioannis Kyriakopoulos, President of the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Gennadiy Chizhykov, as well as HR/Organizational Development Director and Member of the Management Board Winner Group Sergii Rud, and Partner at Dentons Law firm Volodymyr Monastyrsky. Speakers shared their experience in competent investment and effective talent management strategies and spoke about sales and pricing strategies this year.


The indissoluble link between business and war: UBN held a second event in Kyiv
Business Panel Discussion at UBN Network Live Event


Considering the prospects and possible scenarios for the development of the war, one positive piece of news emerges — most likely, next year, Ukraine may gain permanent advantages over the Russian Federation in the context of artillery, ammunition supply, and logistics.

“In fact, it is in the interests of the West itself to continue financing Ukraine. Since the main threat to the EU and NATO is the Russian Federation. And only Ukraine can resist it”, says former defense official Oleksii Reznikov.

At the same time, in his presentation, Reznikov, who “met” the full-scale war as the Minister of Defense of Ukraine, noted that it is critically important for Ukraine to develop its defense capabilities because, first of all, Russia produces at least twice as many weapons as the EU and the United States provide. Secondly, after the war, Russia “will not fly to the moon”, so there will always be the threat of a second offensive.


The indissoluble link between business and war: UBN held a second event in Kyiv
War discussion panel with Oleksii Reznikov and Pavlo Narozhyi


War is about mathematics, and modern war is even more so. Ukraine does not have sufficient human resources, but it should not, because it is a modern European army. Therefore, the focus should be on modern technologies, in particular, we are talking about the introduction of artificial intelligence in military affairs and the use of UAVs.

According to Pavlo Narozhnyi, the founder of Reactive Post, who has been working with artillery brigades on the front lines since 2014, drones, particularly FPV, are not able to completely replace artillery for several reasons.

“Since we do not have aviation, the hope should be on artillery, which performs 60-80% of all fire tasks. And just because we didn’t have a lot of artillery in Avdiivka, although we had a lot of FPV — the city was destroyed and occupied. The gunners had to fight with machine guns,” says Pavlo, noting that the severe shortage of artillery in Ukraine.

According to estimates of former Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny, 16 million shells are needed for a counteroffensive in the Zaporizhzhia direction, while the EU provides just a million. Although information about how many shells Ukraine produces is confidential, one of the manufacturers said about 200 thousand shells a year, which is a catastrophically small number.

Therefore, in order for the business environment in Ukraine to remain favorable, one of the priority tasks at the front in 2024 is the construction of fortifications, the defeat of enemy logistics points and scaling up the production and purchase of shells and UAVs.


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