By prioritising science, Ukraine is both richer and safer — Mykhailo Zgurovsky

Every war ends in peace. Having defended their right to live in their own sovereign state, the Ukrainian people will return to a peaceful life. We will have to rebuild the country. Some regions will have to literally rise from the ruins.

Undoubtedly, it will be necessary to build a new, efficient, modern country, with an economy focused on knowledge-intensive industries with high standards of innovation. At the same time, we will revive Ukrainian traditions; we will cultivate our national culture and restore our real history, not the history invented in Moscow.

All this will require people who are well educated, aware of current trends in technology, familiar with the latest scientific discoveries, able to cooperate with foreign colleagues and communicate in foreign languages.

They will need specific knowledge and skills in their field as well as an interdisciplinary approach and an understanding of the relationship between different disciplines, technologies and practices.

These future builders of a renewed Ukraine need to be prepared today, which is why we are trying so hard to maintain our traditionally strong scientific schools at universities, including the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, and, on the other hand, to deepen cooperation with international, especially European, educators and scientists.

Higher education continues

Ukraine did not stop teaching specialists during the war. Teaching continues, although not in the usual format. Both the armed forces and industry need competent specialists. The economy of Ukraine, which the invader is trying to destroy, must function in wartime conditions.

Ukrainian scientists are, I believe, now conducting more specialist research than before because it is necessary to respond quickly to our national defence needs. After all, science is an integral part of state security and defence.

The war has proved that it is not only soldiers on the battlefield who can win the war, but also advanced technologies and engineers and scientists in the field of electronics, computer science, new materials or mechanics.

Our enemy gets so upset when we receive shipments of modern, effective weapons from our Western partners. We are grateful, but to win we need even more new types and systems of modern weapons. Our armed forces are successfully using our domestic models of advanced weapons, such as the Stugna-P anti-tank missile system, the Neptune anti-ship missile that sank the Moskva missile cruiser or the Spectator drone, and others.

A war between civilisations

People should realise that this war is not just a war between Russia and Ukraine; it is a war between civilisations. A war between a modern 21st-century civilisation driven by human progress and an archaic civilisation centred on the long-abandoned 19th-century imperial model of conquering foreign territories and oppressing other peoples.

Previously, Russia only talked about this mission; now it is trying to impose a new world order, its own ideological imperative – the ‘law of power’. At the same time that it is asking the world for ‘special treatment’, it rejects all norms of international law and traditions of coexistence and is resorting to crimes against humanity.

This war has already drawn many countries into its orbit. Russia is using a hybrid form of aggression against Europe, blackmailing countries when it comes to energy supplies, threatening starvation for many countries in Africa and the Middle East and supporting far-right and far-left European parties. This, in turn, could cause a migration crisis and an increase in terrorism and other terrible phenomena.

Science and technology must be a priority

Ukraine wants to be a sovereign state, to keep the territory that historically belonged to it within its borders. To achieve this goal, the main priority for Ukrainian society should be the development of advanced technologies based on science.

We see how this governance model works in countries where all technologically advanced, innovative areas are politically supported and motivated. For countries that have to constantly guard their independence, such as Israel, South Korea and Singapore, advanced technologies and breakthrough scientific solutions are the highest political and state priorities.

The development of science should also be one of the highest policy priorities for Ukraine. After all, by creating highly intelligent products and protecting intellectual property, we will provide jobs and ensure GDP growth; instead of exporting raw materials according to the ‘grow grain-sell grain’ formula, we will offer high-tech products with high added value.

Thus, the country will become both safer and richer.

We have no other choice. This is the lesson of this war that leaders at all levels must learn – from the heads of scientific research institutions and industrial enterprises to the top political leadership of the country.

Professor Mykhailo Zgurovsky is a rector of the National Technical University of Ukraine ‘Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute’. This article is taken from an interview for the magazine Perspektywy.