Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk delivered an impassioned address at the AJC Global Forum last night.

“Shalom. Thank you for your support. Thank you for your open hearts and minds,” said Yatsenyuk. “We will never surrender. We will fight and win. We will succeed.”

The prime minister, who traveled especially from Kiev to Washington in order to address the AJC Global Forum’s World Leaders Plenary in person, spoke to an audience of more than 2,000, including diplomats from 30 countries, and representatives of Jewish communities from across the U.S. and more than 70 countries around the world. Fifty Ukrainian Jews came to Washington for the event, as did leaders of the Ukrainian American community.

The prime minister spoke about the aspirations of the Ukrainian people to chart their own destiny, to forge a stable, strong, democratic country, and to confront the menace of a Russia that wants to turn back the clock of history.

But, he emphasized, this is not Ukraine’s fight alone. “Ukraine matters for the unity of the European Union and the unity of the free world,” he said.

“Today, Ukraine is the only country in the world fighting against the regular Russian army,” said Yatsenyuk. “This is a war not just between Ukraine and Russia. This war is between the past and the future, between day and night, between freedom and dictatorship.”

The prime minister also said the situation Ukraine faces today will have implications for global nuclear non-proliferation. He reminded the audience that in 1994 Ukraine signed an international agreement, known as the Budapest Memorandum, to relinquish “one of the largest nuclear arsenals in the world” with the understanding that the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine would be assured.

“With no weapons, we lost Crimea and parts of Eastern Ukraine,” said Yatsenyuk. “This is the lesson. Ukraine matters too much for nuclear non-proliferation and for peace and security in all of Europe.”

Yatsenyuk declared that unity of Western democracies would help Ukraine win the war. “We will regain control of Donetsk and Luhansk, and Crimea will again be part of Ukraine.”

AJC has applauded Prime Minister Yatsenyuk for his government’s determination in the face of overwhelming adversity, and urged Western governments to stand in solidarity and respond with appropriate support. In 1991, AJC became the first Jewish organization outside Ukraine to call on President George H.W. Bush to recognize the country's independence from Moscow. Since then, it has staunchly supported a free and democratic Ukraine.

In February, an AJC leadership delegation, led by Executive Director David Harris, met with the prime minister in Kiev, the third such visit to the Ukrainian capital since April 2014. Also, AJC sent Dr. Sam Kliger, AJC Russian Affairs Director, to represent the organization in Kiev for four months last year, to show tangible, on-the-ground support.

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