President of Ukraine

Speech by the President and the First Lady of Ukraine to the U.S. government and business representatives, media and Ukrainian community

22 September 2023 - 12:02

Speech by the President and the First Lady of Ukraine to the U.S. government and business representatives, media and Ukrainian community



First Lady:

Thank you. Dear friends! Volodymyr and I have never made such addresses before. But never before has our country had such reasons to be grateful.

There were different times in the long history of the Ukrainian people. Ukrainians did not stop fighting for freedom – this is in the character of our men and women. Equally. 

Now I am not afraid that Ukrainian freedom will fall. In general, freedom will never fall again. The world can be sure of that, because it can be confident in America. 


This Monday, after arriving in New York, my team and I immediately went to Staten Island – to the hospital where our guys – our heroes, who were seriously wounded in battles, are recovering. Soldiers, sailors, sergeants… Ordinary guys. Some of them are now learning to walk again. They get used to prostheses. But they are the ones who would not agree to the occupation.

They are strong guys – with brave spirit. I am proud of our soldiers! Each of them. And what I noticed there, during the meetings with the doctors of the Staten Island University Hospital… in their eyes… I noticed that the people who work there, in the hospital, and return our guys to a normal life, – Americans, – they are also proud of Ukrainian warriors. 

Never before have Americans been so proud of the power and strength of Ukrainians. Thank you so much!

It’s a big privilege to be here. Thank you! Dear friends!

Dear Americans! 

Among the documents I saw here today at the National Archives of the United States, was a telegram from Abraham Lincoln to General Grant. An inspiring document… Absolutely.

“Hold on with a bulldog grip, and chew and choke as much as possible,” – President Lincoln's words reflect the courage and faith that helped America. Such words reflect exactly how Ukrainians fight. In our victorious battles for Ukraine and Kharkiv and the Snake Island in the Black Sea. In our battle for Bakhmut, where our soldiers are pressing forward – no matter the challenges. In our battle for every inch of Ukrainian land.

Every day of this war, Ukrainian soldiers hold-on with the grip of a bulldog. They chew and choke the Russian occupiers as much as possible. Never before has the Russian dictatorship met such strong resistance. And never again will Russia manage to destroy any other nation.

Putin's list was long. Just recently. After Ukraine, if we fall, half of Europe would again be in danger of being in Moscow’s sphere of influence. 

But American investment in Ukrainian security and global protection of freedom is working. One hundred percent. Every cent. Now Putin’s list of goals is different – instead of dictating terms to America, Europe and the whole free world, Putin is forced to humiliate himself by personally entertaining a delegation from Pyongyang and trying to find favor with Tehran. This is his clear weakness. Yes, it’s true.

Ukraine pays the highest price for defending freedom and global security. Every day and night our soldiers sacrifice their lives holding their ground in the trenches on the front line. They lose their comrades in battle. They lose limbs tripping Russian mines. Every day and night, Russia continues its terror with missiles and Iranian drones. But every day and every night, our unity stays strong. You support us. And we know we shall not fall. And we see how our freedom keeps the snatch of a bulldog. And we are confident that other nations will not have to throw their armies into this battle, because Ukraine is capable of ending this war with a victory that will become our common victory. It is not the evil empire, but the lack of unity that can bring freedom to its knees. We will do everything to ensure that our unity – the unity of Ukraine, the United States and the entire free world – becomes stronger than ever before. And that all people, women and men, adults and children, every family... People's desire to live and not the artillery or missiles, would determine life on Earth.

First Lady:

Over the past year and a half, we’ve all experienced many important things. And we did many things for the first time.

I personally made my first official visit to the U.S. a year ago and spoke in the Congress.

At that time, my husband could not leave Ukraine for a foreign visit – while the fate of Ukraine was yet to be decided. Never before has the First Lady from another country addressed the Congress. 

And never before had asked for weapons to defend her country. 

But, even if we do something for the first time, something extraordinary, and it is for the sake of salvation – it delivers the response. 

I saw the tears of senators and congressmen. This proved better than words – we value life equally. It is equally important for us that life wins.

The stories of Ukrainian children killed by Russian missiles, which I told Congress about, are not out there somewhere. They are here. 

Perhaps never before has the world felt so strongly that global means small. That the trouble of some is the trouble of all, that violation of rights in one end of the world is violation of the rights of all.

I returned home with your support, with weapons – such as anti-aircraft defense that gives protection to our people – adults and children… Such was our path to the “Patriots” in Ukraine. And thousands of lives have now been saved. This is so important – when the Congress hears, when America hears! 

I came back with the feeling that we understand each other.


Today, there are different people here – doctors and soldiers, politicians and businessmen, adults and children… Ukrainians, Americans. There is not a single soul here today who would not care what happens to freedom. And there is not a soul in Ukraine that does not feel gratitude to you, America. To you – the people who help us not because you have to, but because your heart cannot let you do otherwise. Thank you. That is humanity. This is what makes us Ukraine. That's what makes you America.

Today, we’re here together with Olena to express gratitude to all of you, to the Americans – ordinary people who have done and are doing extraordinary things at the call of their hearts. American hearts beat just like the hearts of Ukrainian people. And all the most important historical achievements of nations are a reflection of whether people are capable of being extraordinary for the sake of life, for the sake of freedom. Never before in human history has this been more vital than it is now.

I want you all to know that America has saved millions of Ukrainian lives. Millions! Men and women, children and adults, in cities and in villages… Millions of Ukrainian children can now be with their mothers… Men on the frontline now hear their children waiting for them in cities and villages deep in the rear. It is possible because most of Ukraine is free. And we must free all of our land, our people. And I thank every American, everyone in the world who is helping, for every life saved in Ukraine.

Today here is Ivan. Hi, Ivan. Please, come. We see you. A Ukrainian boy, he is only 17 years old. He lost his leg when a Russian tank crushed the car his family was traveling in. His stepfather died then, his mother was wounded. Now Ivan not only walks and runs, he surfs and knows that he has a chance for a full life.

Today here is a Ukrainian girl Sasha, she is 10 years old. Her family tried to leave Bucha at the beginning of the Russian invasion. Russian soldiers fired at the car – Sasha received a serious injury to her hand. There was a long time of treatment and rehabilitation. According to the “Unbreakable” program – just like Ivan – now Sasha also has a full life ahead, I am grateful for that.

Grateful for thousands of such children and adults who were helped by American doctors! 

We want to thank all the doctors!


Here is Peter Harsh, a doctor. Where is Peter? Thank you. Who helped Ivan and many other boys and girls, men and women. Here is Yakov Granidar, a doctor. Please, Yakov, come to us. A co-founder of a foundation that gave a chance for a full life to more than a hundred Ukrainians. Here is Genadii Fuizailov, professor of Harvard Medical School, doctor, founder of the foundation that provided treatment for children with extremely serious burns. Here is doctor Robert Montgomery. He himself lives with a donor heart, and at the same time he travels to war-torn Ukraine and helps people’s hearts to beat – he operates himself. Here is Michael Corcoran, a doctor, the founder of medical clinics. He has been helping the military for a long time. Here is Oksana Jackson, a pediatric plastic surgeon. Since 2013, she has been coming to Ukraine to operate on children. After the start of the war, her patients became soldiers who needed facial operations. Here is Walter Ulrich, chief of a charitable organization that supplies medical equipment to Ukraine. More than 175 tons of such equipment are already saving lives. Thank you so much. Here is Vitaliy Dubil, who helps hospitals in Ukraine, in particular, the largest children's hospital located in Kyiv, as well as military doctors of our country. Here is Alla Lopatkina, the president of the foundation that sends ambulances and fire trucks to Ukraine, dozens and dozens are already in Ukraine. Here is Yuriy Deichakivskyi, cardiologist, volunteer, man who helps…

If America did not have such people, there would be no freedom left in the world but for such great hearts.

First Lady:

We said that this defense conducted by Ukraine is a protection of values. Such as a right to life and personality. These are not only physical things, but also intangible values. The defenders of Ukraine are very different people – of different views, beliefs, or not religious at all. 

But they all clearly feel that they are fighting against evil. Against the worst that might be borne within a human – a conscious effort to kill, destroy, grab, enslave. Therefore, it is also a spiritual battle. Sincere gratitude to everyone who fights together with us in spiritual dimension and dimension of values.

I have the honor of knowing Archbishop Borys Hudziak personally. And he is known to thousands of Ukrainians – soldiers, displaced persons, and many others whom he helps. And young people who, thanks to him, get a great education. 

And also here is the rector of the Church of St. Andrew and chaplain of the US Air Force Volodymyr Shtelyak and our honorary consul in the city of Seattle and pastor Valery Holoborodko… Leaders of their communities who help others.

First Lady:

I would like to invite to join us Mr. Peter Gelb, the general director of the “Met” – the legendary New York Opera, – which has become one of the largest centers of support for our fight with the language of art. Peter's tremendous work has helped us to achieve the cultural solidarity we need – a culture that fosters freedom, that gives strength to stand in the struggle.


Thank you so much. Here today are the leaders of the Ukrainian community in America, activists, volunteers, benefactors. Michael Sawkiw, Andriy Futey, Yaroslav Dzwinyk, Iryna Mazur, Lilia Popovych, Jonathan Freedman, Maryna Bayduk, Dora Chomyak, Nadia Shaporynska, Iryna Vaschuk, Cristopher Michael Manson.

Those who work tirelessly 24/7 to help and bring the time of our victory closer. Thank you so much.


I remember how the journey of confidence that we are on now began. When I spoke with President Biden early in the morning on February 24, 2022, the first day of the Russian invasion, the world did not really believe in Ukraine. The endless columns of Russian tanks and vehicles that invaded our territory seemed invincible to many in the world. But I assured President Biden then, that we – in Ukraine – will not give up. And he assured me that America will be with us as long as it takes. The United States Congress supports us. The President supports us. People support us. Ukraine will always be grateful for this. Never before has there been such a powerful unity between Ukraine and America. But what could be more convincing than when even America’s children are eager to help defend freedom?

Ryan, Mr. Hirschhorn, please join us! Ryan is a strong man, he is 13 years old. Together with his father he launched a very inspiring project – using hearts. It is a blue and yellow sculpture that reminds other people, other communities and nations what freedom is all about. This project fundraised big donations to buy medical equipment for Ukrainians. Ryan could just spend time with a PlayStation – he’s a real man, but he’s a teenager. But Ryan has a strong, great heart, golden heart, such hearts take freedom seriously, they don’t just play with it. Thank you, Ryan! Thank you, our friend!


It is a great privilege to honor all of you with state awards of Ukraine! On February 24th, we in Ukraine could not have known that we would be supported by so many people and such kind of people! But now we see it could not be otherwise. Ukrainians, Americans – we do not betray ourselves, we do not betray freedom.

Let our open hearts win! And now I ask everyone to applaud every great heart!


Thank you America! God bless America!

Слава Україні!