Remarks by Ambassador Miller Marking the One Year Anniversary of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine – February 24, 2023
Madame State Secretary, Excellencies, Members of the National and Cantonal Government, Representatives from the City of Bern, and other distinguished guests, good evening.
I must express my deep gratitude to Ambassador Iryna Venediktova for providing me with the chance to restate, with utmost conviction, the unwavering support of the United States for Ukraine and its people.
As we solemnly mark the one-year anniversary of the illegal and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine, and continue to condemn Moscow’s reprehensible attempt to weaken the very foundations of global peace and security, it is imperative that we continue to stand with the Ukrainian people in their fight for sovereignty and self-determination.
Those principles, forged in the ashes of the second world war and born out of a shared hope for peace and stability, are the common ground upon which we have built our global community, and the bedrock of our shared vision for a better tomorrow. But after 75 years, those ideals are at greater risk than ever before.
One year ago, Putin’s Russia launched a cowardly and brutal assault against Ukraine, drawing no distinction between armed forces and unarmed civilians. But the Ukrainian people stood firm, resolute in their determination to defend their families, their culture, and their way of life. They have fought valiantly, not just for themselves, but for all of us who believe in the principles of justice and freedom. Putin’s attempts to take Kyiv were in vain — and today, in more than 50 percent of the territory controlled by Russia at the height of the invasion, the Ukrainian flag waves proudly as a symbol of courage and unity.
We must acknowledge, with heavy hearts, the unbearable suffering that the people of Ukraine have been forced to endure. Tonight, more than 16 million Ukrainians will go to sleep having been pushed from their own homes by Putin’s invasion. Millions more have been forced to make untold sacrifices, to witness the loss of loved ones, to endure unimaginable hardships at the hands of a dictator. Through it all, the Ukrainian people have remained steadfast in their commitment to their nation and the principles of freedom and democracy.
It is important to recognize that throughout the past year, the women in Ukraine have been at the forefront of the war effort. The world has seen the power of women’s leadership and the strength of voices like Ambassador Venediktova and First Lady Olena Zelenska. Ambassador Venediktova, we recognize the resilience and courage you and millions of other Ukrainian women have demonstrated in this conflict. Today, we affirm our commitment to proudly stand with you as you advocate for peace and justice.
When the day of reckoning comes — as it did nearly three-quarters of a century ago — the world will look back to see what was done to help Ukraine and its people in their hour of greatest need. The United States and its allies and partners must make every effort possible to continue to support Ukraine and bring an end to this senseless war, not just for those engaged in the struggle for peace today, but for generations yet to come.
The defense of freedom is an ongoing fight, one that requires vigilance, determination, and unwavering commitment. In the face of Putin’s unrelenting aggression, democracies around the world must stand united in defense of freedom — today, tomorrow, and forever.
The solidarity of the international community in condemning Putin’s war has been nothing short of remarkable, but we cannot rest on our laurels. We must redouble our efforts to provide critical economic and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, to ensure that its people have the resources they need to weather this storm and rebuild their homeland.
As President Biden said during his trip to Kyiv this week, “Ukrainians remind the world every single day of the meaning of the word courage. Ukrainians remind us that freedom is priceless; it’s worth fighting for, for as long as it takes.”
As we gather tonight, the world is at a decisive moment. The fate of Ukraine is the fate of every nation that cherishes freedom, democracy, and self-determination. We stand with Ukraine tonight, tomorrow, and forever, to show the world our unyielding belief in democracy, and that our defense of freedom is unbreakable.