Administrator Samantha Power at a Press Gaggle

Office of Press Relations
For Immediate Release
October 6, 2022


Administrator Samantha Power at a Press Gaggle Following Her Visit to KyivTeploEnergo Pipes Winterization Site

Kyiv, Ukraine

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: This is my first trip back since 2015. Obviously, a lot has changed. Many of the reforms that were quite nascent back then have kicked in. And, obviously, the war has come to Kyiv – Putin’s invasion – the horrific atrocities that have devastated so many communities in Ukraine. So, the resiliency of the people: completely inspiring; the devastation wrought needlessly by Putin and his forces: heartbreaking – those are my initial impressions.

I’m here as USAID Administrator and we are working in this community to support the restoration of heat and hot water because of missile strikes early in this round of the conflict. Back in March in this area, about 10 residential buildings and two schools lost access to heat and hot water. And so, you can see the repairs around here are aimed at restoring the pipes that have been shattered by Putin’s offensive, and the work that we’ve done up to this point is restoring heat and hot water for about 22,000 people.

But today, I’m also announcing an additional $55 million dollars investment in winterization, in supporting communities across Ukraine. This is support for the restoration of heat and winterization that will reach up to seven million Ukrainians. And this matters a lot as we head into winter, as Ukrainians worry a lot about what winter will bring as Putin seeks to weaponize energy and heat – in a sense to weaponize winter in the same way that he has weaponized food and attempted again to inflict violence and inhumanity on the people of this great country. So, we are coming in support of our Ukrainian partners, who have shown such stunning and inspiring resilience.

But these resources really matter because obviously, there are a lot of demands on the Ukrainian government, on resources. So, this support is to provide generators, to provide the heated tents when heat goes out in emergency circumstances, to provide pumps, valves, pipes, and technical support. We’re hopeful this will provide some inoculation, again, heading into what will be a different winter, we know, for the people of this country.

We’ll have more to say over the course of the day. But this community, at least, should see the benefit very soon. We heard at the school that because of the repairs that have been made, I think 88 percent of the windows in the school were shattered. Because of the blast impact in this area, 189 doors were blown off their hinges because of the blast impact. Because of the repairs that have taken place there, students will actually be back in school in about a month’s time. And that’s 1,500 students who have been learning online, tried not to have their studies disrupted by the war, but now we’ll be able to gather in classrooms where they most want to be. Thank you.

CAL PERRY: Can you talk about the level of destruction that’s here in Ukraine? You traveled to Pakistan, the Horn of Africa, all over the world, how does this compare to what you see around the world and how do you convince Americans that USAID and the funding is important?

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: The level of destruction here, in Kyiv, was blunted by Ukrainian forces’ incredible victory over the invading forces. I mean, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the first defeat of Russian forces – the first historic defeat – occurred right here because of the resilience and the determination of these communities. That said, as we see all over the country where Russian forces recede, horrific atrocities and devastation, sexual violence, mass graves are unearthed in their wake.

And of course, that is what happened on the outskirts of Kyiv. So, there’s the long range missile damage of the kind that we see here in this community. And then, wherever Russian forces are in positions of occupation, however short that period is, this searing brutality that they inflict on the communities that they are occupying. We see it again and again. And now, I’m sure we’ll be seeing it in the south, just as we’ve seen it recently in the east and as clear here, in Irpin, and Bucha several months ago. U.S. support for this cause is so worth it. We have provided now, more than $25 billion in a combination of military security assistance that everybody’s familiar with, also direct budget support – $8.5 billion budget support. That is what is helping the Ukrainian government pay the salaries of people who work in government ministries who keep the heat on in the winter. It is helping pay the salaries of health workers, who are caring not only for the wounded, but in a steady state actually just caring for Ukrainians in order to keep society moving. USAID funds everything from training of independent media to anti-corruption programs that are going to be absolutely critical, also, to holding Ukrainian authorities accountable as some of this assistance flows.

So, what’s at stake here is the question of whether a large power can invade a neighbor and get away with it. What’s at stake here is whether freedom-loving people get to decide for themselves how they live, under whom they live, whether they get to choose their own leadership, whether they get to live their national identity, their culture, speak their language – the essence of the values that define civilization are at stake in this conflict. And we need to remember that this war will be won on the battlefield, for sure, but it will also be won by virtue of supporting civil society and the Ukrainian people – partnering with those who have demonstrated historic resilience. But fundamentally, also, we need to get through the winter. And so, to combine the security assistance support with humanitarian assistance, with winterization support with technical support.

I just met with a group of young people who are starting their own businesses. They’re off to the races in trying to capture European markets, American markets, they are already living the integration that this country seeks with Europe and with the West. And we, in the United States, have an interest in supporting the choice that Ukrainians have made to integrate, to democratize, to build a rule of law. And that’s what our program is.

MISSY RYAN: Just to ask a follow up question. So you talked about why it’s worth it to provide funding to Ukraine, and clearly USAID is providing a lot of assistance right now, but at the same time, there have been increasing calls from some Republicans questioning why the United States should be providing this massive amount of security assistance and development assistance. And I’m just wondering for the longer term, you know, how do you – what’s your message to the people who are saying well, we have problems at home and we don’t think that we should be giving these volumes of funding to Ukraine for the longer haul?

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: If aggression – naked aggression – were to pay off, that would be destabilizing and devastating for everyone. And certainly for Americans. If a people who have chosen democracy, the rule of law, integration with the United States with Europe, if we were somehow to walk away from supporting that will to live freely, that would be not only harmful for the people of Ukraine, but I think ultimately harmful for the cause of democracy which Americans hold dear.

I think there are very reasonable questions that Americans are asking about – how is the money being spent? And is there sufficient oversight? And that’s one of the things that USAID is very determined to be able to answer those questions. And I think one of the reasons I’m here is to look at our programs up close, and make sure that we have sufficient guardrails, sufficient oversight. But I will say that while there are voices in the United States, of course, along the lines of what you’ve described, it was just a matter of days ago that Congress came together and authorized, in an overwhelming bipartisan way, an additional $4.5 billion in direct budget support. And that’s on top of the $8.5 billion in direct budget support already provided.

So, I think that the American people can see the fight and the heart of the people of Ukraine, they can see the stakes here, of standing up to aggression – naked aggression – they can see the stakes of standing up for democracy, and for the values that we cherish in the United States as well. And that bipartisan support that we see in Washington, which is quite rare these days, is really a reflection of what we see across the country, which is still tremendous solidarity with the people in this country and and frankly, a sense of inspiration. As we see Ukrainians succeeding on the battlefield against a much bigger neighbor, I think you’ll see Americans themselves feeling inspired by that, that will – a will to protect one’s family and to be free of aggression, but a will for freedom. And that’s what is at stake here. And I think Americans see that.