August 24th marked a sombre milestone for the people of Ukraine.
What should have been a celebration of 31 years of independence instead marked six months since the Russian government’s unprovoked, full-scale invasion of Ukraine, an attack that was thoroughly condemned by the United Nations General Assembly.
The worldwide reaction to Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine has been so visceral because in the conduct of this war, we have seen evidence – on a nearly daily basis – of Russia’s violence, destruction, devastation, and death.
As members of the UN Security Council, the United States and Ireland have stood together with the international community to call for an end to Russia’s unjustified war on Ukraine. Ireland has also been at the forefront of EU member states supporting Ukraine’s bid for EU membership.
The Irish people have also shown their tremendous generosity in welcoming nearly 50,000 people who have been forced from their homes by Putin’s war.
Ireland’s commitment to humanitarian ideals stands in stark contrast to the brutality of Russia’s actions. As President John F. Kennedy said in his speech in Dáil Éireann in 1963, “Let them remember the constancy, the faith, the endurance, and the final success of the Irish.”
We will continue to stand together. Ukraine remains sovereign and independent. As Russia’s war stretches on, Ukraine’s courage, strength, and freedom will endure and prevail.
There is evidence that Russia intends to attempt to annex additional Ukrainian territory by force, rolling out a version of the “annexation playbook” we saw in 2014, installing illegitimate proxy officials to arrange sham referenda on joining Russia. Annexation by force would be a gross violation of the UN Charter and the United States will not allow it to go unchallenged or without cost. No state should be able to change its neighbour’s borders.
In addition, Russia’s war in Ukraine will have negative ramifications for global food security and the global economy for years to come. Russia’s aggression has upended the global grain trade, endangering food security for many populations. The current crisis also has accelerated inflation, energy, 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 use forums such as the G20 to press Russia to adhere to the recent deal allowing transit of food shipments from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
With Russia’s brazen attack on the port of Odesa only 24 hours after concluding this deal, along with continued attacks on transportation and agricultural infrastructure, international pressure to unlock Ukrainian food exports will continue to be critical.
Despite the enormous cost Vladimir Putin has inflicted on Ukraine and the world, sanctions by the United States, the EU and our partners and allies are designed to compel the Kremlin to cease its violence. We know they are taking a toll on Russia’s economy, which has required unprecedented (and unsustainable) Kremlin intervention to prevent significant damage.
Economists predict that, in the longer term, as sanctions are expanded and tightened, the Russian government will run out of stalling tactics and the true costs of its actions will become painfully real for the Russian people.
Sanctions and other measures will remain, and their costs on the Russian economy will keep compounding, as long as the Russian government continues its war of choice against Ukraine.
We don’t know when this war will be over, but we know this: Ukraine will be a strong sovereign and independent nation. The United States will continue to stand united with Ukraine and help it defend itself for as long it takes.
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.
From Main Street to the Maidan, Capitol Hill to Leinster House, 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. In this, the United States and Ireland are more united than ever.
Ukraine is fighting to defend not only its democracy, but its very survival as an independent country. The significance of this fight does not need to be explained to any Irish person.
Ireland has used its position on the world stage and consistently supported action at an EU and UN level to call for an end to Russia’s unjustified war on Ukraine. The United States and Ireland will continue to stand together, and I proudly echo the view of the hundreds who stood in support outside the Ukrainian Embassy on Ukrainian National Day.
Claire D. Cronin is U.S. Ambassador to Ireland