Oleksiy Arestovych: Ukraine's Quest for Future and Identity

Oleksiy Arestovych: Ukraine's Quest for Future and Identity
Image created by Steven Alber & AI

Oleksiy Arestovych, a former military officer, blogger, and columnist from Ukraine, who served as the Strategic Communications Adviser to the Office of the President of Ukraine from December 2020 to January 2023, recently expressed his views on Ukraine's current challenges and its historical role. During a broadcast with Yuriy Romanenko and Sergey Arkadyevich Datsyuk, Arestovych discussed the issues surrounding Ukrainian national identity and the country's strategic direction.

Arestovych highlighted the problem of mobilization in Ukraine, noting a lack of a unifying national project that people are willing to fight and potentially sacrifice their lives for. This, he argued, is a practical reflection of a broader issue: the absence of a clear ideological direction and a desire to withdraw from the historical process.

He criticized the prevailing attitudes in Ukraine, categorizing them into two main ideas: a direct flight from history and a passive existence under the protection of NATO. Arestovych expressed his belief that both ideas are unviable and that Ukraine, with such a mindset, cannot sustain itself.

The former adviser stressed the importance of defining Ukraine's historical idea, especially within its 1991 borders, suggesting that Ukraine's geographical position makes it impossible to remain ideologically neutral or historically insignificant. He lamented that Ukraine has often positioned itself as a victim in history, except during brief periods of assertiveness.

In contrast to Ukraine's situation, Arestovych pointed out that Russia has successfully fostered the idea of a "great Russia" among its citizens, alongside universal ideas aimed at the global stage. These narratives, he noted, have been effective in bolstering Russia's military strength and volunteer recruitment.

Arestovych concluded that Ukraine's immediate victory would be its "Return to History" and the restoration of its dignity. Without this, he warned, Ukraine risks being overshadowed and consumed by more assertive global forces. This statement underlines the critical juncture at which Ukraine finds itself, seeking a clear and robust national identity and strategic direction.