WASHINGTON — As Ukrainian forces battle back a stalling Russian invasion, government officials hailing from Kyiv told a conference in Washington, D.C., that they are eyeing a future defined by digital innovation, defense know-how and high-tech investments.
“We want not only to fight, but also to continue our development, our digital transformation,” Georgii Dubynskyi, Ukraine’s deputy minister of digital transformation, said Sept. 9 at the Billington Cybersecurity Summit. “And we are ready to take any modern technology and to test them in Ukraine and to develop a digital country, develop a digital state, and show the rest of the world.”
Dubynskyi’s remarks followed a prerecorded video played at the conference in which Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov pitched “a big vision of turning Ukraine into a top tech country.”
“Strong security and military solutions,” he said in the video, could become the Eastern European country’s key export and expertise.
Ukrainian leaders have in past months solicited international spending to reinvigorate industries and rebuild its economy, both ravaged by Russia. The World Bank in April predicted Ukraine’s economy would shrink 45% this year, noting the magnitude of the contraction depends on the length and severity of the war.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sept. 6 remotely rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange and launched Advantage Ukraine, an initiative seeking foreign investments in opportunities the government says total hundreds of billions of dollars. Key sectors include defense, infrastructure, metallurgy and digitization.
Some three months prior, Zelenskyy welcomed Palantir Technologies CEO Alex Karp to Kyiv, where they discussed Russian cyberattacks, defense cooperation and the opening of a corporate office. Karp’s trip to the capital marked the first made by an executive of a major Western company since Russia launched its invasion in February.
Palantir is known for its data analytics and software development capability. The company has been involved with Project Maven, a Pentagon effort to develop artificial intelligence capabilities that could help flag and decipher aerial surveillance footage.
Zelenskyy at the time described the rendezvous as a “positive signal that, despite a full-scale war, Ukraine is open to business and ready for cooperation.” The president also said he was “delighted that Palantir is ready to invest in Ukraine and help us in the fight against Russia on the digital frontline.”
The in-person dialogue involved Dubynskyi and Fedorov, according to photos shared by Zelenskyy’s office.
Colin Demarest is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covers military networks, cyber and IT. Colin previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration — namely Cold War cleanup and nuclear weapons development — for a daily newspaper in South Carolina. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.