January 24, 2022 — New York
There is a popular hashtag now in social media: Stand with Ukraine. I proudly stand with Ukraine, as we have since 1991, when the country was re-born free of Soviet rule, and as recently as two weeks ago, when AJC took a solidarity visit to Kyiv to express in person, on the ground, our concern, our solidarity with Ukraine.
Let’s be clear. The stakes couldn’t be higher at this moment in time. Russia has deployed well over 100,000 well-armed troops that are along the border of Ukraine to the north, to the east, to the south. Why are they there? They are there to instill fear, to intimidate, to threaten, to engage in brinkmanship.
President Putin has said as early as 2005 that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century. His goal is to re-constitute as much of the so-called Russian sphere of influence as he possibly can – as he has tried to do in Georgia, in Moldova, now in Kazakhstan, in Belarus, and already in parts of Ukraine, including Crimea and Donbas.
This is a moment of definition for the rest of the world, and the rest of the world must be led by the United States. We must be absolutely crystal clear in our solidarity and in our messaging.
Russia does not have the right to determine the future of another sovereign nation.
Ukraine has the right to protect its own fate, to protect its own sovereignty, its own territorial integrity, and to determine in which direction it looks.
Whatever it decides, Russia’s attempt to try and accuse Ukraine of somehow threatening Russia or being part of Russia or an otherwise artificial country, must be rejected for the nonsense that it is.
So, let’s make sure that there are no cracks in the wall. We’ve seen a few from Germany. Hopefully, these cracks can be repaired, because any – any – division in the West will be seen and exploited by the Kremlin.
Let’s also be clear about one other thing. This is, yes, about the fate and the destiny of Ukraine. But it is also something else. In Beijing, in Tehran, in Georgia, in Pyongyang, North Korea, be assured, the leaders are watching this very carefully. They are testing our will, our strength, our resolve, our unity. And we dare not be found wanting.
And so, for us at AJC it’s clear. The hashtag is absolutely clear. Stand with Ukraine. We stand with Ukraine.