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Ukraine's diaspora: what will we do?

Presentation: Dr. Andriy Gaidutskiy. Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority

Written by: Jeenam Kang. CTMS Communications Officer

CTMS hosted the "International Migration Round Table" in which students from Seoul National University Graduate School of International Studies participated in the first half of 2022. A total of seven roundtables were held throughout this time. The final 7th session, held on June 22, presented a special online lecture by Andriy Gaidutsky, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority. Gaidutsky, a PhD in economics, is an expert with over 20 years of experience in Ukraine's state and private institutions related to economy, finance and migration. He is also a visiting professor at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv and an advisor to the State Investment Promotion Agency ‘Ukraine Invest'. He also shares deep ties to Korea, having obtained a Master's degree in Business Administration from Korea Development Institute (KDI).

Gaidutsky gave a lecture on the topic of ‘Ukrainian Migration As a Result of Russian Invasion’. He shared the reality of the Ukrainian diaspora caused by the Russian invasion, and gave advice on what Ukraine and the international community should do in this situation. We highlight the main points of this presentation.

Ukrainian Population Halved After Independence

source : Andriy Gaidutskiy

Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Ukraine had a population of 52 million at the time. However, as large-scale overseas migration has continued ever since , the country's population is expected to be 30 million at the end of this year, which counts for half of the initial number.

The migration of Ukrainian people abroad is largely divided into four periods. First, from 1991 to 2000, around 3 million people left the country as the national economy deteriorated during the process of transforming itself into a market economy after independence. In 2005~2010, another 3 million people migrated mainly to Poland and the Czech Republic due to the expansion of the European Union. . When the citizens of Eastern European countries newly joined to the European Union moved to Britain and Germany, Ukrainians left their home countries to make up for the shortage of labor in these countries. Third, Third, after Russia occupied parts of Crimea and Donbas between 2014 and 2017, 5 million Ukrainians were forced to flee their homes. The fourth and final period is the present. About 3 million Ukrainians have fled to the European Union by land for about a month since the invasion of Russia began on February 24th of this year. The number of Ukrainians leaving the country this year is estimated to be 7 million.

Russia has failed to take control of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv and its surroundings. However, it greatly increased its occupation in the Crimea and Donbas areas in eastern Ukraine. Russia's ambition is to further expand its occupied territory in Ukraine, providing a direct link from Russia to Crimea. Under these circumstances, Ukrainians have moved to Poland (1.5 million people), the Czech Republic (780 thousand people), Bulgaria (360,000 people) and Canada (130,000 people). It is also known that 1,200 Ukrainians have applied for entry into South Korea.

Severely Forced Migration through 'Filter Camps'

The situation's seriousness steams from the issue that not all Ukrainian nationals migrate abroad voluntarily. Between 2014 and 2021, 2.5 million people were forcibly moved to Russia by Russia from the Crimea and Donbas regions. The number of Ukrainians forced to move to Russia this year is estimated to be between 1.3 million and 2 million.

Currently, Russia has established 20 so-called Filtration Camps in Crimea and the Donbas region. In these camps, the Russian separates Ukrainian people into pro-Russian and anti-Russian groups, and forcibly relocates Ukrainians who are not loyal to Russia to the poorer regions of the Russian Far East. 1.2 million people have already gone through the filter camps, including 200,000 children.

Urgent Policies to Support Diaspora

The Ukrainian government should put in place policies to support people who have migrated abroad and to other parts of Ukraine. Ukrainian immigrants are divided into four main groups.

Group 1 is a group of migrants who have gone abroad, have found jobs and received financial support from foreign governments. The Ukrainian government should develop an incentive program that will entice them to transfer more money to their home countries and return home to do business there. Group 2 is a group of migrants who have gone abroad but have failed to find work and have not received financial support from foreign governments. The Ukrainian government must engage in negotiations to ask the country's government to provide people with financial support and to arrange jobs.

Group 3 are displaced people, but still live in Ukraine, have jobs, or have regular incomes. Group 4 is people who live in Korea after losing their jobs and regular income. The government should create new business opportunities for Group 3 to actively participate. This will lead to job creation for Group 4.

Korea's Advanced Technology and Economic Reconstruction Experience Can Be of Great Help

International financial aid to Ukraine is still weak and unstable. Only the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union have fulfilled their promised funds, while many countries have yet to do so. Some countries are sending funds in the form of loans. Many others are unable to speed up their support for Ukraine due to the increasingly visible economic recession.

However, the international community's support for Ukraine is very important. Russia's current target is Ukraine, but could be Poland next. Hitler's German forces invaded Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland and the Soviet Union in that order. The same history can be repeated.

source : Andriy Gaidutskiy

I believe the Korean government can help Ukraine in many ways. Broadly divided into three areas, Korea can help Ukraine in △Recovery Assistance, △Investment Attractiveness Assitance, and △Diaspora Engagement & Immigrants Attraction.

With priority recovery assistance, South Korea can assist in the restoration of damaged assets and collapsed infrastructure in Ukraine. We will be able to support Korea's advanced construction equipment and machinery for infrastructure reconstruction, and pass on the experience of public-private joint development to Ukraine. Such recovery assistance will increase the level of confidence in the Ukrainian government.

Korea can support the development of mechanisms that increase the attractiveness of investment in Ukraine. We can help investors and entrepreneurs have a transparent and predictable judicial system and support export-oriented economic development. This investment attractiveness support will increase capital inflows into Ukraine.

Finally, Korea can support the development of a program that motivates expatriates to send more money to their home countries, and a program that encourages Ukrainian diaspora to return to their home countries to do business. The experience of Korea sending tens of thousands of people to Germany and other countries to send money to their home countries will be a good reference for Ukraine. In addition, Korea will be able to help simplify the immigration policy aimed at attracting immigrants from Ukraine. This support for diaspora and immigration will increase Ukraine's labor resources and increase the influx of human capital.

A Prolonged War... Ukraine's Urgent Reconstruction Needs

The damage caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine is estimated at $150 billion. The European Union recently estimated that Ukraine's restoration could cost up to $1 trillion. It is expected that it will be much longer before the war is over as the Ukrainian government decides to fight to reclaim all its territories from Russia.

At the beginning of the war, many Ukrainians fled their homeland. Some come back, but the reality is that more and more people are leaving. One of the main causes of the ongoing diaspora is that the war has caused Ukraine's currency to plummet, leading to lower salaries.

To rebuild Ukraine, we need to make the country more attractive for investment. We need to provide incentives for Ukrainian expatriates and overseas investors to send money and invest in Ukraine. I hope the Korean government and Koreans will be interested and help us a lot.

Andriy Gaidutskiy

  • 우크라이나 항만청 감독위원회 위원장
    (Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority)
  • 우크라이나 국가투자진흥기관 ‘우크라이나 인베스트’ 고문
    (Advisor to the State Investment Promotion Agency ‘Ukraine Invest’)
  • 타라스 쉐프첸코 키이우국립대 방문교수
    (Visiting Professor at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv)
  • 한국개발연구원 국제정책대학원 경영학 석사
    (MBA degree from the KDI School of Public Policy and Management)