Dear Congressman Levin, Your Excellencies, Dear friends of Ukraine,
I would like to welcome you all here today and to thank the Center for US-Ukraine Relations and, namely, Walter Zaryckyj, for guarding this great tradition to gather such a distinguished audience and to have the U.S.-Ukraine Security Dialogue here in DC.
In addition, I very much appreciate the fact that I had an opportunity to participate at CUSUR events in the past – many times as member of expert community and now as Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States.
I would like to recognize incredible efforts in support of Ukraine from the Ukrainian Congressional Caucus and, in particular, from Representative Sander Levin, present here today.
Congressman, the Ukrainian people and the large community of Ukrainian-Americans will always remember that it was your great effort and your sponsorship of a Law on the Hill that allowed Ukraine to have a Memorial to Holodomor victims of 1932-33 on the U.S. Federal land. Moreover, I am proud that last November, together with you, we unveiled the Memorial in the heart of DC.
I would like to thank the United States Administration and the American people for their unwavering support to Ukraine while it faces unprecedented challenges.
The Russian war against Ukraine proved that weakness provokes aggression, while a strong country can deter the bully and get the situation under control. Therefore, Ukraine needs enhancement of its defense capabilities, stronger armed forces, alongside good governance and efficient economy.
Not only assistance but also a clear understanding that investment in Ukraine is an investment in global security and security of the US. Now when Budapest Memorandum security assurances failed to work, we need the US vision and the vision of the regional strategy. Resuming work of U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Partnership Commission is a right mechanism for aligning this vision with Ukraine producing this clear vision can be Strategic Partnership Commission to fill the security vacuum in this part of the world, where Ukraine is at a core of the developments.
The issue of the internal developments in Ukraine, the fight against corruption, which must go on, should not shift a focus away from the security effort. There is no sign that the situation will get resolved by itself and very quickly. On a contrary, there can be further escalation of the conflict from the Russian side and from the side of the Russian-backed separatists and therefore, today, we need to keep the sanctions for implementation of the Minsk agreements. The sanctions do work and this is where the U.S. position is key. Secondly, we need continuation and expansion of the military and technical cooperation between the U.S. and Ukraine.
Support to Ukraine will have positive externalities that include preventing, quieting or resolving conflicts around the globe.
I would like to urge you not to rest, not to move focus away from the situation in Ukraine and Europe. Because after Russia’s occupation of Georgia’s South Ossetia and Abkhazia in 2008, illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and invasion in Donbas the international security architecture is undermined. Today inter-linkages with these aggressions and other instabilities are obvious. The repercussions can become even stronger.
Moreover, regular statements of Russian leadership on possible attacks on Baltic countries and even use of nuclear weapons do not allow to rest but to be more consolidated and more resilient.
Ukraine is the bleeding edge in a war in the geographic heart of Europe where the desire of its citizens to live in a society defined by the principles that underlie western civilization are a threat to Russia’s totalitarian regime. This root cause for aggression that has claimed casualties in more than 2,000 military personnel and 10,000 civilians.
Ukraine has rebuilt its army from scratch in less than a year. It has shown readiness to fearlessly defend its freedom, can also train partners on how to defend themselves against a new phenomenon - hybrid warfare, and has proven to be a responsible ally, respecting international and humanitarian law.
In the point of massive Russian invasion in August 2014, the international solidarity with Ukraine, positions of France, Germany coordinated with the U.S. and reinforced by the sanctions have stopped full-scale war. Now, coherence, solidarity, coordination and leadership are key to reach full resolution.
A frozen-conflict in the heart of Europe can become a source of constant instability, arms and human trafficking, which will further jeopardize European stability and global security.
Ukraine issue has tested but reaffirmed European and transatlantic solidarity thanks in large measure to US leadership. That leadership was critical but is increasingly indispensable as Russia seeks to destabilize Europe and break its unity by straining European society to the breaking point by coordinating its military actions in Syria with disturbing domestic politics of European Member States.
The United States has historically invested in the European reconstruction and integration both for the greater good but also to protect its national interests. We should not forget the two major world wars which started in Europe and we should spare all effort to keep it united and at peace. Our immediate neighbors in Europe need no special emphasis because they are already intimidated by Russian hostile behavior and rhetoric.
The U.S. holds a stake in the European success story in the 20th Century. And today U.S. leadership on issues of sanctions against Russia until the Minsk agreement is implemented in full is paramount. Russia and the Russian-backed rebels have not implemented a single provision of the Minsk.
Only coordinated, consistent and continuous pressure on Russia to implement the Minsk agreements will bolster the credibility of diplomatic efforts to the point needed to resolve the Syrian crisis. The Statement of the International Syria Support Group, called to establish cease-fire and deliver the peaceful, mirrors many provisions of the Minsk. Allowing Russia to sidestep its obligations under the Minsk will only embolden it to treat its commitments in Syria in a similar duplicitous fashion.
Support in defending Ukraine by the US and partners will contribute to the international non-proliferation effort. The Iranian deal reached by the U.S. Administration was an important milestone. Support provided to a country that voluntarily has given up its arsenal in1994 and enriched uranium in 2010 will boost the confidence in the future implementation and legacy of the Iranian deal and the non-proliferation movement, in general.
Once again, support of Ukraine, our defense capacity, to our domestic reforms, strengthening of our democratic institution, recognition of Ukraine’s provisional success and motivation to move forward - these are all very important factors to our success. This approach will provide the strongest weapon against the Russian aggression and will become one of the most needed remedies and contributions to the security in the world.
Thank you very much for your attention!