‘Peacekeeping in Europe is gone,’ says Cambridge University Ukrainian finance professor as protesters get rowdy
Ukrainians and pro-Ukrainians alike protested Russia’s invasion of their homeland in a vigorous “Stand with Ukraine” demonstration on Friday night, while a Ukrainian-born finance professor at Cambridge Judge Business School said the best tactic against Russian aggression is to demand “transparency” in all financial dealings with Russia: past, present and future.
Addressing the Cambridge IndependentProfessor Andrei Kirilenko spoke about the historical context of the King’s Parade protest.
“It’s not the first war, it’s not the last war for the Ukrainian people,” he said. “What this war has changed is the system of collective security agreements in place since World War II – and peacekeeping in Europe is gone. Whatever agreements are made after this war will not be what existed before.
“Even if it ends – and I hope it ends – the ‘hot’ phase may end, but Ukraine is surrounded to the north, east and south by authoritarian regimes. They will have to keep fighting – they have no choice. If the Ukrainians fight Russia, the Belarusians or Kazakhstan will come closer to their freedom.
Professor Kirilenko says that this new war is not “military against military, it is military against a nation”. He suggests that a complete disentanglement of Russian money from Western financial systems is the best strategic response, and that this strategy can only be achieved by tracking all movements of Russian money as it enters, exits and weaves its way through Western economies, cultures and organizations.
“Russia is an exporting nation,” says Professor Kirilenko. “It exports a product: corruption. Corruption comes from its hydrocarbon industry, misinformation, corruption from other institutions, industries and businesses – corruption comes in any way possible. Thanks to their gas pipeline, they will export corruption. That’s how it works.
“You can see how Russian corruption has infected the fundamental pillars of British society – and that includes legislative bodies, sports clubs and cultural and educational institutions. It’s happened and it’s very effective and very stubborn, and it needs to be cleaned up.
The sanctions are part of an overall strategy – a strategy which must include the issue of laundering dirty money through the City of London.
“If you ask me what I think is the best course of action, I would say transparency. Number one is the sun. Number two is “let it be known”. Tell people, “This is where Russian money is invested. Don’t hide behind secret investments. We know of a few people like this in the UK, but you can guarantee there are thousands, if not tens of thousands, more.
Professor Kirilenko, whose mother still lives in Mariupol in the southeast of the country where he grew up, spent 12 years at the IMF and served as chief economist at the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
“Transparency is truth,” he says. He also believes that removing Russia from the Swift – Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications – payment system would help the process of distancing Russian money from conventional finance, as was the case for Iran, which was decoupled from Swift in 2012, partially reconnected. in 2016 then disconnected again in 2018.
“I understand it would be nice if that happened,” Professor Kirilenko said of Swift’s possible retribution. “But if the goal is to isolate Russia and Russian financial institutions from the civilized world, yes it will have a very big impact but will it lead to regime change? This was not the case in Iran.
Meanwhile, in Mariupol, there is “shelling and a tank attack”.
In the streets of Cambridge, the mood was a mixture of concern, belligerence and dismay.
the Cambridge University Ukrainian Society announced the King’s Parade event on social media, saying, “In light of yesterday’s full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, we would like to come together today [February 25] to support all students, faculty and staff at the University of Cambridge who are of Ukrainian origin as well as all those affected by the latest acts of Russian aggression against Ukrainians at the University of Cambridge.
“My cousins ran away from home to Lugansk,” said one woman. “Now they tell me: ’20 meters from our house there is fighting.’ With their daughters and grandson, what are they going to do? Please we must do everything we can to stop this war.
A Ukrainian-born man said: “I think of Kyiv where I grew up for the first 14 years of my life,” he told a crowd of around 200 at King’s Parade. “Now imagine it’s London. It’s not just Ukraine, it’s attacking you wherever you are. There is a saying: “If you appease the bear, you don’t save your own skin.”
A Russian man said: “We are not our government – I’m sorry.
“Georgia has also suffered greatly,” said the next speaker, a woman, speaking of the Russian invasion of that country in 2008. “Russia’s military aggression must be stopped. In recent years, he has been quite closely tied to one person.
Cue some chants from the crowd. “Real Sanctions Now”, “Ban Swift’s Russia”.
And some curses shouted from the crowd in Ukrainian, which was translated as “Russian warship, fuck you” – the last words of 13 Ukrainian soldiers before being bombed.
“The world has responded extremely well to Covid,” said Paul Browne, Cambridge’s chairman for Europe. “We are all united. We knew we had to do it to save lives and we can do it again with this. Putin is far more of a threat to our way of life than Covid. Everyone here needs to write to your MPs and say ‘we need a better response’.
“Do you really think they will stop in Ukraine and not continue in Poland?” asked the woman who followed. “I know that Europe is preparing to accept refugees but we don’t want to become refugees.”
Someone called Steve says: “I want to remind people of the amount of Russian money in the UK and urge you to write your MP to tell him to stop accepting Russian money and bribes- Russian winemakers.”
“Don’t be ignorant, don’t be silent,” pleaded the last speaker before the singing of the national anthem, which became a hoarse ruckus from Russian leader Vladimir Putin. “Defend democracy, defend the values we all stand for.”