President of Ukraine

For many in the world, Ukraine is now a personal moral choice - President's speech at the Yalta European Strategy Forum

8 September 2023 - 16:07

For many in the world, Ukraine is now a personal moral choice - President's speech at the Yalta European Strategy Forum

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen!

Thank you very much for the invitation and I welcome you all to the annual Yalta European Strategy Forum.

The theme of this year's Forum is "The Future is Decided in Ukraine". But when we say "in Ukraine" now, do we mean only the state of Ukraine?

The war against Ukraine is a war against morality. And the defense of Ukraine is, above all, the defense of morality.

In fact, when people talk about Ukraine, they are talking about the aggression against our country and our ability to win. About the courage of Ukrainians. About our land, sky, our Black Sea. That is, about the human and geographical space of our country, where the fate of not only Ukraine's independence, but also global stability and the rules by which most of the world is accustomed to live peacefully is decided.

However, there is something that is not so obvious in the conversations about Ukraine today.

For many in the world, Ukraine is not just a country in Europe that is defending itself against Russian aggression. For many, Ukraine is now a personal moral choice. A choice of what is really valuable to them. A choice of what they really want to believe in. A choice of what you put as your highest and true priority. Ukraine now symbolizes a standard of freedom in which people from different countries recognize their own standards. Recognize their attitude to life and the value of life. A decent, protected life. A life in which people matter. So when we talk about Ukraine now, we are actually talking about a huge moral space, and it is much wider than just the territory of Ukraine.

This is the space from the Ukrainian trenches in Donbas, in the east to discussions in the world's leading political offices and even between friends, if they are talking about some fundamental things. This is the space that starts from the positions of our anti-aircraft gunners in Odesa region, who are protecting ports from Russian missiles and Iranian "Shaheds", and goes all the way to the positions of state representatives in international organizations who have to defend international law and things like global food security. This is the space between our Ukrainian people, who are defending the state and life, and those in the world who are strengthening us with their weapons, their sanctions against Russia, their leadership that consolidates others. And this is a space that begins with Ukrainian combat medics driving evacuation vehicles to take wounded soldiers off the battlefield and ends with gadget screens in the hands of people who see something about Ukraine and at that moment choose which interview to watch, which tweet to like, which news to share, which donation to make. All of this is a huge space of constant daily moral choices for many people in many countries.

And it is in this wide space that the future is born.

Dear guests! 

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen!

Remember where we were on February 24, when this terrible and brazen full-scale Russian aggression against our people, against our lives, against everyone, against Ukraine began. Putin expected Ukraine to be left alone, because some of its partners would be indifferent, some would be afraid, some would act too slowly. And if that had been the case, Ukraine could have been occupied. Then Russia's military madness would have turned into further aggression against other neighboring countries. The war would have spread. But would it have targeted only the territory of states?

This is the whole point. We are defending ourselves, among other things, because the vast moral space of the world has united and is helping to defend Ukraine. Ukraine and thus a reflection of our own values. And Putin is attacking not only Ukraine, but also this moral space, which is ultimately capable of bringing to justice any terrorists and murderers, any aggressors. It is capable when it is morally mobilized.

When we are talking about this war, we are always talking about morality. Everything that is said about Ukraine and this war has either a moral basis, a moral digression, or a shocking lack of morality. In fact, choosing between any of the options: supporting Ukraine or choosing indifference instead, acting together or instead expecting all necessary actions to be taken by Ukraine alone, insisting that Russia must be held accountable for genocide - because it is genocide! - or hinting that the main thing is to cut costs, and the problem of genocidal aggression will supposedly disappear if you close your eyes for a minute - all of this is definitely about morality. And all this is about the future, in which human life and international relations will either have a moral basis or... not. Then all of humanity may remain slaves to such "putins" who are capable of killing for their own whims.

Please, every time you talk about Ukraine, remember what you are talking about.

Human morality must win this war. And this is not only a matter for Ukraine as a state, it is a matter for Ukraine as all of us. Everyone in the world who values freedom, who values human life, who believes that people must win.

And our success, the specific success of Ukraine, depends not only on us, on Ukrainians, but also on the extent to which the entire vast moral space of the world wants to preserve itself. On the extent to which the world remains morally mobilized. And I strongly believe in this. And that is why we are here.

Glory to Ukraine!