Distinguished Dr. Robin Niblett,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me start with words of appreciation.
It is my true honor to speak today at the Royal Institute of International Affairs.
I shall thank the distinguished audience for your genuine interest in Ukraine.
But above all, I thank for your support of and solidarity with my country.
The reason for this is not just our fight against aggression and against the return to the world of disrespect and “deliberate territorial grabs”.
The reason for this is our common fight for the future of Europe.
It's also about the future of the Free World - one, which believes that freedom is a real thing and not a decoy to keep others under control.
The one, which is based on the “rule of law”, not “the rule of force”.
The one, which helped us live in peace throughout decades.
Until very recently, unfortunately.
We all know the complexity of challenges we face today.
The world has sleepwalked into a time of trouble.
We are challenged with so many problems – be it terrorism or growing radicalism, xenophobia or migration, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or climate change.
Autocratic leaders feel free to violate human rights and international law.
They display complete disrespect to our demands and appeals for peace.
Thus, there is no surprise that many are tempted.
They are tempted to choose ...
Between values - and so-called "pragmatism".
And between commitment to international law - and appeasement.
Many think that it is just a matter of time before the dust settles and things will get back to normal – to “business as usual”.
I’m afraid it's not going to happen.
Things eventually will get back to normal - but it will be a new normal.
Remember what the great Briton, Winston Churchill, said back in January 1940 – in the early days of the World War Two: I quote
“Each one hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough, the crocodile will eat him last.
All of them hope that the storm will pass before their turn comes to be devoured.
But I fear – I fear greatly – the storm will not pass.
It will rage and it will roar, ever more loudly, ever more widely” (end of quote).
There is one place where this truth is as obvious today as it was in the UK back then.
This place is Ukraine.
And there is a crocodile, whom some – if not many – would love to feed today to be safe tomorrow.
Many think: once Russia is fed - it won't be a threat anymore.
I have to disagree.
Russia doesn't have a hunger problem.
It has an attitude problem.
It doesn't believe in things like democracy and human rights.
It believes in things like "world domination" and "zones of influence".
It doesn't play by the rules.
It believes in only one rule: "Russia wins. Always. No matter what".
You see it in politics. You see it in sports.
You see it in a fake-news reality that it tries to impose on our world.
A famous British publicist and TV-producer Peter Pomerantsev said it best: "Nothing is true and everything is possible".
That's indeed their ideology.
No wonder, that instead of tackling the pressing challenges, which erode the Global Order, Russia weaponizes them in its own interests.
That is what we call “the hybrid warfare”.
It's "hybrid" because it works across the board and has many faces.
Misinformation, assaultive propaganda, deliberate hacking and lie - that's only a small part of it.
Moscow is not just rejecting the world order.
It is trying to build an alternative reality based on alternative values:
Tyranny instead of democracy.
Intolerance instead of respect.
A zero-sum game instead of win-win.
It violated the Budapest memorandum, of which the UK is also the party.
It violated every single piece of our bilateral treaties, in which Moscow recognized and guaranteed Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
It violates its countless promises today – within the Minsk process.
NO effective ceasefire.
NO release of hostages and illegally detained persons.
NO access for international humanitarian organizations.
There is no other party to be blamed for it, but Russia.
It continues sending troops, heavy weapons and ammunition to Ukraine.
It turns Crimea into the world's biggest military base.
It stays deaf to demands and arguments for peace.
We don't have peace for one reason:
Russians are not interested in reaching peace.
They are interested in exerting control.
I felt it again this Monday, when together with Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande held telephone negotiations with President Putin.
It was another display of Moscow’s empty promises.
It was another display of their attitude: "if you want peace, you can have it: but only on our conditions".
No compromises. Just – the rule of force.
It proves that we have no other way round but to seek peace through strength, not appeasement.
Sometimes I hear people asking: why should we care about Ukraine?
To be clear: I'm not referring to Secretary Tillerson, with whom I had a great telephone conversation last week before he met with Putin.
I think political and diplomatic America has a clear view of Ukraine's role.
But what about all the people in the west, who occasionally buy the narrative of the Russian propaganda about Russia "just wanting to be itself" and about the clash of civilizations in which "the West went too far"?
First – it's not a "clash of civilizations", but a clash between the world of rules and the world of blunt force.
We chose to be the part of the world of rules - and get punished for it.
Winning or losing this fight is a precedent that will tilt the scale one way or another.
Second – Ukraine is an investment into security of all. Including Russia.
Ukraine can't be defeated.
But it can become successful only with the help of its allies.
And a successful and stable Ukraine means a successful and stable region.
Third - Ukraine is a test, whether the EU is indeed in decline (as Russia claims).
In Ukraine you don't answer "the Ukrainian question".
You answer "the European question".
Fourth – Ukraine is an invaluable asset in nuclear non-proliferation.
If the Budapest memorandum’s guarantees to Ukraine are forgotten, what is the lesson for the nations contemplating whether to go nuclear?
And finally, the fifth – Ukraine is a fighter.
If you look for someone guided by principle, not fear - look at Ukraine.
We spend annually 5% of our GDP on defense – more than some NATO members.
Currently, Ukraine’s army ranks 8th in Europe.
It is the only army that not only faces the Russian aggression but also is capable to contain it, effectively.
It can make you feel safe and secure.
It keeps the aggression away from your homes.
Is it not something the western audiences should care and understand in the first place?
I think they should.
They should also understand that the Kremlin is obsessed with its imperial past.
Russia’s drive for hegemony will not stop with Ukraine.
Yesterday it was Transniestria and Georgia.
Today it is Syria and Ukraine.
Who will be next?
Let me reiterate: it's not a hunger problem, but a problem of attitude.
And Russia's attitude is different not only from ours, but also from the Soviet one.
The Soviet Union was thinking along the line "we are good - they are bad".
Kremlin leaders thinks along a different line.
And the line is: "they are bad - so we are allowed to be bad too".
This doesn't leave much space for a positive agenda.
Give it a thought. Contemplate the consequences.
My call is simple.
What we need is three things.
(1) We need to be strong.
(2) We need to be united.
(3) And we need to be in it for a long time.
This is our winning formula of antidote against aggression.
What is also in needed is your firm support of Ukraine’s reforms.
It is not easy to make transformations through the war and against Russia's attempts to destabilize Ukraine.
Yet, we proceed and deliver, because that's what these last three years have been about: becoming a better nation.
To proceed that way we also need sanctions to stay firm on Russia.
Don't believe those who say sanctions bring nothing!
First of all: less killed Ukrainians is not "nothing".
Second of all: if it wasn't for sanctions, Russian tanks would be standing much deeper in Europe.
Putin started his "campaign" in Ukraine with a sense of impunity.
Because of the sanctions and because of Ukraine's readiness to fight back, he has a sense of hesitation now.
He must end up with a sense of inevitability.
Inevitability of a coordinated response of the West.
Aggressors of the world must know: they will be held accountable for their crimes.
Ukraine is doing its part. Fighting the war.
Be strong, united and support Ukraine!
And, please, remember the words of wisdom by Margaret Thatcher:
“Wars are not caused by the buildup of weapons.
They are caused when an aggressor believes he can achieve his objectives at an acceptable price”.