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Ambassador Murphy’s Remarks at the Exhibition “There is Light Even in the Darkest Times”
February 28, 2023

U.S. Ambassador MurphyGood afternoon, distinguished guests, representatives of the media and the diplomatic corps.  I would like to thank the organizers for inviting me to speak at this solemn, yet inspiring event.

Today marks one year since Russia launched its brutal, unprovoked, and illegal full-scale invasion of Ukraine.  Russia’s horrifying violence has killed thousands.  It is a time to mourn the tragic loss of life, but it is also a moment to applaud the spirit of the Ukrainian people who are defending their country, their democracy, and their freedom.  It is also a moment to reaffirm our commitment to Ukraine, and to acknowledge the immense international response – in Europe and around the world – to Russia’s aggression.  Russia has suffered, and will continue to suffer, strategic losses until it ceases its military activity and withdraws from Ukraine.

Russia’s attack on Ukraine did not start in 2022.  This war is a continuation of Russia’s illegal seizure of Crimea and parts of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts in 2014.

Russia’s aggression has separated families and driven millions from their homes.

People have lost their livelihoods; educations have been disrupted; medical treatments have been interrupted; and millions of households have gone without reliable electricity, heat, or water.  Parents have lost children, and children have lost parents.  The scale and lasting impact of these losses is incalculable, and horrific to contemplate.  Members of Russia’s forces have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, and evidence of atrocities continues to mount.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine violated the UN Charter and the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity enshrined within it.  Russia violates international law, wreaks death and destruction on cities and civilians, orchestrates cruel filtration operations, tears Ukrainian children away from their parents, and brazenly loots and destroys cultural heritage in Ukraine.  Russia’s aggression and attempt to redraw borders or force Ukraine into a frozen conflict are an assault on the rules-based international order.

President Putin thought he would break the West and roll over Ukraine – he was wrong.  He underestimated the resolve and capability of the people of Ukraine to defend their country, their democracy, and their freedom.  He also underestimated the United States’ resolve and the unwavering unity of allies and partners to stand with Ukraine as long as it takes.

One year after Russia’s unprovoked, illegal full-scale invasion, our commitment has not wavered.  As President Biden put it on his historic visit to Kyiv earlier this week, “One year later, Kyiv stands.  Ukraine stands.  Democracy stands.  America – and the world – stands with Ukraine.”

From the moment this war began, the American people have stood proudly with Ukraine to ensure that it has the financial, humanitarian, and security assistance that it needs.  When Ukraine’s freedom was threatened, American people from every walk of life – like generations of Americans before us – did not hesitate to provide unequivocal and unyielding support for Ukraine.  Ukraine’s fight is part of something much bigger.  The American people know that if we stand by in the face of such blatant attacks on liberty and democracy and the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, the world will surely face worse consequences.  America stands up for freedom.  America stands up for democracy.  America stands up to bullies.  It is who we are.

But we are not doing so alone.  This is a worldwide effort.  The United States is leading a coalition of more than 50 countries – from North America to Europe to the Indo-Pacific – that are providing military assistance to help Ukraine.  The United States has provided $27.5 billion in military assistance since 2021.

Since February 24, 2022, we have provided more than $1.9 billion in humanitarian assistance to support the displaced, including refugees, and other vulnerable populations and communities both inside Ukraine and throughout the region.  And we have imposed severe, unprecedented sanctions and export controls on Russia, making it harder for the Kremlin to wage its brutal war.

Russia chose this war, and the world will hold Russia accountable for the atrocities it is committing in Ukraine.

Russia has already failed in its strategic objective to overthrow the democratically elected government of Ukraine and subjugate the Ukrainian people.  Russia has lost the battles for Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Kherson, and its military has suffered thousands of casualties and massive equipment losses.

Russia has become a global pariah, relying on countries like Iran and North Korea, while Ukraine is supported around the world.  Even countries friendly to Russia have warned it against reckless talk of escalation.  The UN General Assembly has repeatedly, overwhelmingly voted to condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and its violations of the UN Charter.  Russia faces condemnation and even exclusion from a range of international bodies.

Putin wanted less NATO and is instead getting more NATO, with Finland and Sweden on the verge of becoming the two newest Allies.  Today, NATO’s one billion people are stronger, more united, and more vital than ever.  The Russian economy is becoming less vibrant and less productive day by day.

We want this war to end as quickly as possible, but on just terms that respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  Russia remains the sole obstacle to peace in Ukraine.  Russia’s continuing savage attacks on Ukraine demonstrate that Putin currently has no interest in meaningful diplomacy.  If Russia stops fighting and withdraws, the war ends.  If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine ends.  Putin cannot count on “Ukraine fatigue.”  The United States, together with our Allies and partners, will continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes.  And we will continue to work to hold Russia accountable for the war crimes and atrocities being committed in Ukraine.

The spark that sustains the global coalition for Ukraine is the Ukrainian people.  They have proven their skill on the battlefield and determination to defend their freedom.  The bravery of Ukrainians has inspired leaders and ordinary people around the world and reminded us about the importance of the universal values of life and liberty.

The world has admired the leadership of Ukraine’s elected officials and the courage ordinary Ukrainians have displayed in the face of Russia’s aggression – be they schoolchildren who continue with their lessons in bomb shelters; brave medical professionals rescuing the injured on the front lines; civil society leaders collecting evidence of Russian atrocities; determined volunteers delivering food to the liberated territories; or the resolute utility workers who labor around the clock to keep the light on despite Russia’s continuing bombardments of critical civilian infrastructure.  Despite the hardships of war, Ukrainians continue to show us the best humanity has to offer.  As President Biden said in Kyiv a few days ago: “President Zelensky and all Ukrainians remind the world ever day what courage is.  They remind us that freedom is priceless.  And worth fighting for.  For as long as it takes.”

Thank you again for organizing this moving exhibit and today’s event to mark Russia’s invasion and celebrate Ukrainian resilience and our unwavering support.