President of Ukraine

Democracies all over the world have proven their ability to unite and face tyranny – speech by the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine at the Hudson Institute entitled "The Decisive Moment for Ukraine"

14 November 2023 - 10:00

Democracies all over the world have proven their ability to unite and face tyranny – speech by the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine at the Hudson Institute entitled

Ladies and gentlemen, friends!

First and foremost, I would like to thank you for having me here. It's a great honor and pleasure to speak before the community that has been a stronghold of democracy and freedom Since the hottest times of the Cold War.

This place was created to ponder the improbable for a better and safer future. And today, Herman Kahn's "Thinking about the unthinkable" principle seems to be more relevant than ever. That's what we all have to do. To imagine the impossible to make it happen.

For 628 days of the full-scale Russian invasion, Ukrainians have been proving that the impossible is only what hasn't been done yet.

It seemed impossible to stop the Russian invading forces. It seemed impossible to implement comprehensive sanctions against the aggressor country. Standing firm against the terror and nuclear-armed state's blackmail also seemed impossible. As well as imposing our own agenda on them. But Ukraine holds on. Defends. Lives. We have already liberated half of the occupied territories. We have busted the myth of the 'second army in the world.' Now it is the 'second army in Ukraine.'

This became possible because we are not alone. America has once again demonstrated its leadership. It confirmed its status as a beacon of freedom. It was the first to help a nation fighting against tyranny. Ukrainians are immensely grateful to the people, Congress, and President Biden for this. But your assistance is not charity. It is an investment in a safer world.

Together, we have created a new geopolitical reality. Ukraine’s resilience in defending freedom and the value-driven choices of our allies under the United States leadership have caused tectonic shifts. Democracies all over the world have proven their ability to unite and face tyranny. Fortitude of the Ukrainian people, valor of our defenders, and the joint efforts of our allies have made Russia's blitzkrieg fail.

But two years into the full-scale war, Russia is still not defeated. What's more, amid a barrage of fake messages emanating from Moscow, there is one undeniable truth: they are not going to stop. They hope to outlast and out-endure the unity of democracies. They know that their success depends on the West adopting a Realpolitik approach rather than a values-based policy.

To this end, Moscow has revived the axis of evil. Let’s set the record straight: it had been doing it long before President Bush coined the term. For decades, it had been forming a coalition of autocratic regimes, fringe movements, and terrorist organizations. And now this coalition of archaically-minded monsters poses an ever-increasing threat to humanity.

Restoring the status of a superpower has become a real obsession of the Kremlin. Russian leadership is fixated on revenge for the Cold War, and they repeatedly refer to its practices.

In the modern world, in a world built on partnership and consensus of interests, Russia does not have competitive advantages. The only chance for them is to create a situation where the difference between peace and war becomes illusionary. They put all their efforts into this. We see what is happening in the Middle East. We know that the flames of conflict are being fanned in the Balkans. We have witnessed attempts to ignite the Sahel. Points of instability will arise worldwide until Ukraine prevails. Therefore, this is not only our strategic interest; it is the interest of the United States as well.

Present-day Russia is a state created for confrontation. That means one thing. We can't effort fatigue. None of us. Ukraine stands and wins – the rules-based order stands and wins. As Ronald Raegan put it, "We have come to a time for choosing." It's either up to freedom, law, and order – or down to totalitarianism.

Ukraine's choice is clear. We are firmly committed to restore Ukraine's sovereignty over all its internationally recognized territory. Against all odds, Ukraine's Defense Forces have gained a foothold on the left bank of the Dnieper. Step by step, they are demilitarizing Crimea. We have covered 70% of the distance. And our counteroffensive is developing. We know how to achieve victory. President Zelenskyy has a clear plan. Among the priorities, he identifies the development of our defense industry and the deployment of our own arms production. 

But that will be later. Meanwhile, we need weapons right now. Russia still has air superiority. It still is capable of producing missiles due to circumvention of sanctions. Not to mention the Iranian drones and North Korean artillery rounds. So, we need more restrictions against them. And we especially need air defense systems. I'll tell you the truth: this winter will be tough for us as well. They will again resort to trying to terrorize our citizens by attacking power grids and infrastructure. Strengthening air defense will be a guarantee for recovery. For the reconstruction of Ukraine, a reliable umbrella is needed. Its reinforcement, in particular, will allow us to reopen one of the airports in Ukraine. We are already working on it with our partners. It's a sign that a turning point in the war is approaching. The next year will be decisive in this regard.

Let me assure you: we can and do account for every defense item we get. Transparency matters. We are absolutely aware of that. President Zelenskyy and our team are employing this principle everywhere. Ukraine is successfully reforming despite the war. The European commission's recommendation to start the accession talks is clear evidence. The myth of the most corrupt European country is officially busted. The myth of the frozen transformation is busted. And the myth of democracy decline is busted, too.

Of course, reforming while fighting is very hard. Frankly speaking, both cost enormous money. But why not make Russia pay for Ukraine's defense? Reconstruction won't have much sense if we don't win.

We seek peace. But not just any peace. In our case, ending the war through compromise is nothing more than pausing it. Ukraine won't repeat the mistakes of Minsk. And I believe that the only right Normandy format is the one described by Ronald Raegan: "We’re bound by reality. The strength of America’s allies is vital to the United States, and the American security guarantee is essential to the continued freedom of Europe’s democracies".

My people are enormously grateful to the United States for your following this path today. And I hope that America will play a leading role in filling the framework of security commitments established with the G7 Vilnius declaration.

Security in all its forms, from nuclear to food to environmental, is one of the three pillars of President Zelenskyy's Peace Formula that I'm sure is globally applicable. The remaining two are justice and humanity. Restoring Ukraine's integrity is just. Punishing the aggressor is just. Making them pay is just. And regarding humanity, we need to return all the hostages the Russians have taken, both prisoners of war and civilians. But first of all, we need to bring back Ukrainian kids. Tens of thousands of them have been abducted. We are working on all these tracks together with our international partners.

These streams are joining in what I believe will soon become an action plan to implement the Peace Formula. 

I'm sure that the Formula can become a universal algorithm for conflict resolution. For the first time in history, it opens the opportunity for leadership to all responsible countries that respect international law.

Yes, the Formula is Ukrainian. But the action plan for its implementation will be a collective effort. The Formula is a platform that promotes peace and dialogue. Today, more than 80 countries are already working on its implementation. Importantly, among them, an increasing number are from the Global South. We are literally uniting the world. But this Coalition of Willing would never come to life without America's involvement.

We have already held three meetings of security advisors to create an action plan for the implementation of the Peace Formula. The first meeting was attended by representatives from 15 countries and organizations. The second had 42 participants, and the most recent one had 66. For us, this is a positive sign. Peace needs co-authors. And when a critical mass is gathered, Russia will have to submit.

Let me emphasize, it's gonna be our common action plan to make the rules-based order work again. The world would benefit. Ukraine would benefit. America would benefit. And what's more, it would secure its role as a global power of good. For implementing the plan requires effective and decisive leadership. The leadership that will put an end to aggression.

In Woodrow Wilson's famous Fourteen Points, he stated: "We cannot be separated in interest or divided in purpose. We stand together until the end." Just like a century ago, determination and unity have given us a unique opportunity to change the world. Let's do it.

Thank you very much!

Glory to Ukraine!