February 27, 2023
I am honored to gather with you today. St. Michael’s Square reminds us of the deep history of this city – a history tracing back around 1,500 years. And yet we are also reminded today that the future is not preordained. People who stand up with courage have the capacity to shape the course of history.
Over the past year, Ukraine has been writing the next chapter of its history – with its heroic fight for freedom. Today, I am witnessing firsthand the devastating toll of Putin’s brutal war. I know that what I’m seeing here in Kyiv reflects just a small fraction of the hardship that Ukrainians have faced over the past year. Thousands of innocent civilians have been killed; so many more livelihoods shattered.
And yet, Ukraine still stands strong. The Ukrainian resistance has inspired millions of people across the globe. In the face of trying circumstances, the Ukrainian military has fought valiantly in defense of the Ukrainian homeland and the universal principles of freedom and dignity. More broadly, the Ukrainian people’s strength and resilience have captivated the globe. Ukraine’s blue-and-yellow flag hangs down the hall from my office at the Treasury Department in Washington. That is only one example of how Ukraine’s fight for justice has inspired the world.
We have pledged to do our part to support the Ukrainian people. Not only with words, but with actions. We will continue to work with our international coalition to provide military, economic, and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. And we will continue to impose severe costs on the Kremlin for its illegal war. As President Biden has said, we will stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes.
Ukrainian courage takes different forms. Last December, during Russia’s brutal assault, you lit a Christmas tree in the middle of Old Kyiv, just a few hundred feet away. It had not been planned. But as Kyiv’s mayor said, “we wouldn’t let Russia steal the celebration…from our children.” You called this tree – “the Tree of Invincibility.”
History will note the brutality of this war. It will also remember the heroes – some sung and many more unsung – who fought for human dignity, self-determination, and freedom in Ukraine’s darkest hour. It is an honor for me to stand with the people of Ukraine in this fight.