Ukraine’s Six Months of Resistance, Resilience, and Resolve
Ukraine, a country under attack by Russia since 2014, has now withstood half a year of massive bombings, sieges of cities, and atrocities against its people. Ukraine is fighting to defend not only its democracy, but its very survival as an independent country.
August 24th marks the 31st anniversary of Ukraine’s independence. Sadly, the day also marks six months since the Russian government’s unprovoked, full-scale invasion of Ukraine, an attack so shocking to the international community that it was thoroughly condemned by the UN General Assembly and spurred two new countries to seek membership in the NATO Alliance.
I arrived in Spain to serve as the U.S. Ambassador less than a month before this unprovoked and shameless invasion. Russia’s war against Ukraine has affected the Spanish people and economy, but I have been impressed by the outstanding response from Spanish authorities and the Spanish people, who have delivered both military and humanitarian assistance. Spain is always quick to respond as an ally and friend.
Russia’s aggression in Ukraine is one of the most consequential events for Europe since World War II. We have all seen the images of the aftermath of Russian bombs hitting civilians sheltering in schools, theaters, and hospitals. Independent media and humanitarian organizations have documented executions in cities like Bucha and Irpin, torture of uniformed and civilian personnel alike, and entire cities like Mariupol cut off from basic necessities while enduring devastation and brutal occupation.
The United States supports a range of international investigations into atrocities in Ukraine. This includes investigations conducted by the International Criminal Court, the United Nations, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The United States stands ready to support national courts around the world that have jurisdiction over individuals accused of committing international crimes.
Amidst all the death and destruction from Russia’s aggression, Ukrainians have sheltered in underground bunkers, risked their lives to gather evidence of atrocities, and fought—sometimes street by street—to keep their people, language, liberty, and identity alive. The resilience and tenacity of Ukraine’s people have inspired the world to support their fight for freedom. Ukraine’s armed forces have fought valiantly to defend values we all hold dear. We must remain united in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, democracy, and European aspirations. We also will continue to work with the international community to help Ukraine rebuild.
The consequences of Russia’s war are not confined to Ukraine. Russia’s aggression has upended the global grain trade, endangering food security for many populations. The current crisis also has accelerated inflation and retail prices around the world.
The United States continues to support all efforts to ensure Ukrainian food reaches world markets. We will continue to press Russia to adhere to the agreement allowing the transit of food shipments from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
Despite the enormous cost Vladimir Putin has inflicted on Ukraine and the world, sanctions by the United States, Spain, and our partners and allies are designed to compel the Kremlin to cease its violence and are taking a toll on Russia’s economy, which has required unprecedented (and unsustainable) Kremlin intervention to prevent significant damage.
The evidence cannot be hidden and is obvious for all to see. The Kremlin has failed to report key macroeconomic metrics for several months. Russia has already missed two debt payments and defaulted on its foreign currency debt for the first time in more than a century. Coordinated sanctions have also frozen more than half of the Russian Central Bank’s reserves, money the Kremlin would otherwise use to finance its war machine. The lack of access to imports and finished goods, particularly goods embedded with sophisticated technologies, will further impair production, transport, and the production and maintenance of military hardware.
Since Russia’s full-scale invasion began in February, more than 50 countries including Spain and the United States have joined together to deliver security assistance to Ukraine so the Ukrainian people can defend themselves.
The United States has committed nearly $10 billion in security assistance. including artillery systems and ammunition, armored vehicles, and advanced air defense systems for Ukraine. Amidst this crisis, Spain has actively participated in NATO defense efforts and has supported Ukraine’s defense through donations ranging from ambulances to ammunition.
Ukrainian civil society has expanded its humanitarian response efforts, reaching nearly 12 million people with assistance. The United States is proud to support their efforts with over $1.2 billion in humanitarian assistance this year alone.
Likewise, the Spanish people and Spanish government have opened their homes and hearts to Ukrainians seeking safe haven. I have witnessed this Spanish generosity of spirit first-hand. From the clothing drive at my son’s school, to the Spanish Society of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology filling the gaps and providing life-saving treatment to sick children, to the leadership of the Spanish government in granting temporary protection to over a hundred-thousand Ukrainians, Spain has demonstrated its solidarity with Ukraine through deeds, and not just words.
Broad support for Ukraine has demonstrated that unprovoked attacks on sovereign, independent states will not go unanswered and will come at a very high price. Working together with important and valued allies like Spain, we will continue to stand with Ukraine and support its fight for survival while also working to bolster European security and democratic values. We stand with Ukraine because borders and food supplies are not bargaining chips. We stand with Ukraine because human rights are incontrovertible. We stand with Ukraine because it is the right thing to do.