What a Month!

What a Month!

  • Michael Cholod
  • Apr 30th, 2024

After 21 eventful months in Kyiv, I never thought one would stand out above all others, but April 2024 was incredible. In March, the world was divided regarding how to finance Ukraine's resistance and rebuilding. The US government seemed permanently paralysed when it came to releasing essential aid money, and the brave defenders of this beautiful country were despairing that their victory would become victim to partisan politics. In fact, young Ukrainian men, worried they’d be drafted into an army without weapons and ammunition, started planning how to flee the country to avoid conscription. 

Then April arrived with warm spring weather. The flowers and trees began to bloom and hope from many sources returned to the streets of Kyiv.

Canada to the rescue

For over 18 months, we at The Peace Coalition have been working hard to support a groundbreakingpiece of legislation called the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA). SEMA provides a means for the Government of Canada to seize 'frozen' Russian assets and repurpose them to support rebuilding and restitution for Ukrainian victims of Russia's illegal war. SEMA is the brainchild of Senator Ratna Omidvar, an amazing legislator and former refugee who proposed the world’s first asset repurposing legislation to ensure that aggressors who don't respect international human rights are punished where it hurts most - in their wallet.

SEMA is a great start because it gives nations a legislative template to repurpose Russian assets. However, even if all the frozen assets are given to Ukraine, it still wouldn’t be enough to pay for the destruction Putin has wrought. Consequently, we’ve also been working with Canadian Member of Parliament, Ryan Turnbull, a tireless champion of sustainable financial innovation, to develop alternative ways to fund Ukraine including using a Special Purpose Vehicle to lure private capital investors and makeup the funding shortfall.

Thanks to the constant support of a proud Ukrainian-Canadian, Deputy Prime Minister, Chrystia Freeland, the Government of Canada announced unwavering support for Ukraine and the intention to play a leading role in establishing consensus among the G7 nations on how to repurpose Russian assets in the 2024 Federal budget on April 16th.  

ReNew and ReBuild 2024

The day after the Canadian Budget, The Peace Coalition hosted our inaugural ReNew and ReBuild conference in association with the Institute of International Relations at Taras Shevchenko University. Over 150 people attended Kyiv’s first reconstruction-focused conference targeting the next generation of Ukrainian leaders and diplomats. It was a wonderful event that we accomplished thanks to the dedication and support of my local colleagues and a gang of enthusiastic student volunteers.

The conference was divided into three separate tracks with over 20 presenters and panellists discussing the most pressing issues in Ukraine's post war recovery. We kicked off with presentations from some of the most esteemed legal and financial minds in the world weighing in on Financing Reparations for Ukraine introduced by Senator Omidvar. We were honoured to have Jozef Hrabina from GeopoLytics moderate the panel on Geopolitical Dynamics and the Western view of Ukraine's Recovery introduced by former Canadian Justice Minister and Ambassador to the UN, Allan Rock. We ended the day getting our hands dirty with a lively discussion on how to create A Sustainable and Inclusive Roadmap for the Recovery of Ukraine introduced by MP Ryan Turnbull. I’m thrilled to report that the directors of the Institute said it was the best conference they’ve ever hosted and we’re invited back anytime.

You can view a recording of the conference here 

Just when I thought it couldn't get any better...

April delivered the best Easter gift Ukraine could wish for when House Speaker Mike Johnson broke the political gridlock in Washington by putting forward a vote on the REPO Act, the American version of SEMA allowing for the seizing and repurposing of Russian assets. Furthermore, the much delayed $61 billion financial support package for Ukraine was included as well. Contrary to what Trump and his colleagues would have you believe, both passed with an overwhelming bi-partisan majority.

A month ago, Ukraine seemed to be on the ropes, running out of time and ammunition to prepare for the inevitable Russian military spring offensive. But as we’ve seen so many times since February 24, 2022, count the Ukrainians out at your own peril - just ask Putin.

Slava Ukraini! Heroiam Slava!