February 27, 2023
Thank you, everyone.
For over a year now, I have witnessed the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people from afar. Today, I see it in person.
The strength of the Ukrainian military. The resilience of Ukraine’s government. The courage of the people of Ukraine. Faced with a brutal and unprovoked invasion, you are standing strong.
One year ago, some believed that Russia would secure a quick and decisive victory over Kyiv [kee-eve]. Russian forces had advanced within sight of this very school. But today, Ukraine still stands. The victory that Putin expected has turned into a strategic failure. Putin’s troops have faced defeats on the battlefield. The Russian economy is weaker and more isolated. And NATO and our global coalition stand united behind Ukraine.
The foundation of Ukraine’s successful resistance has been the remarkable resolve and resilience of the Ukrainian people. We see that here at this school – where students and teachers came together to resist the Russian advance.
I know that this fight has come at great cost to all of you. Many of you have lost family members and close friends. Across Kyiv and Ukraine, we see evidence of the brutality of Putin’s military. The bombing of hospitals. The destruction of cultural sites. Deliberate attacks on civilian energy grids designed to cause widespread suffering in the middle of winter.
But you have fought on despite it all. As you do, I want you to know this: you are not alone. We are with you. The United States has your back – and we will stand with you for as long as it takes.
From the start, we have been proud to support you. Not only with words, but with actions. We have a basic moral duty to stand by you in your darkest hour. But as President Zelenskyy has said, our support is not “charity.” It’s an investment in “global security and democracy.” It is in our vital interests to see a free and stable Europe. And it is critical that we deter any other would-be aggressors who may be emboldened to otherwise seize territory.
Today, I’d like to focus on the importance of two pillars of our support for Ukraine. First, we are providing direct assistance that is critical for Ukraine’s resistance – including economic support to shore up its government and economy. And second, we are leading an unprecedented multilateral sanctions coalition to impose severe economic costs on Russia for its war.
The United States is proud to be Ukraine’s largest bilateral donor. Over the past year, we have provided close to $50 billion in security, economic, and humanitarian assistance. We’re also proud to be joined by an international coalition of partners, including the European Union and other members of the G7.
Much of the public focus has been on the critical security support we are providing for Ukraine’s brave military: tanks, air defense systems, ammunition, and more. But my visit to Kyiv today underscores the importance of our economic support.
The United States has provided $13 billion in economic assistance to Ukraine. Today, I am proud to announce the transfer of an additional amount of over $1.2 billion. That’s the first tranche of about $10 billion in direct budget support that the United States will provide in the coming months.
Our economic support is helping keep the Ukrainian government and critical service providers operational under extraordinary circumstances. Just as security assistance bolsters the front lines, I believe that this economic assistance is fortifying the home front – thereby strengthening Ukraine’s resistance.
First, our funds are helping keep government civil servants on the job. Ukraine’s military successes are first and foremost the product of the bravery and skill of Ukrainian soldiers. But a sustained military effort cannot succeed without an effective government at home. The Ukrainian government serves as a bedrock of stability for the nation at a time of war. Maintaining an effective government is indispensable to Ukraine’s capacity to respond to Russian attacks and other emergencies.
Second, our economic support is keeping essential public services running. These services help maintain economic and social stability for Ukrainians. They help mitigate the emergence of an even greater humanitarian crisis. Our funds help pay for emergency personnel: from firefighters who answer the call when missiles strike to medical professionals who treat sick and wounded civilians. They help fund teachers – at this school and many others – so they can continue to educate Ukraine’s youth. Our assistance also helps provide aid to Ukrainians who are bearing the biggest brunt of the war, such as those internally displaced.
Third, we are working with our partners through the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to keep basic infrastructure and supply chains working. A functioning Ukrainian economy is vital to its ability to finance a robust defense effort. We are providing access to working capital for businesses in critical sectors like agriculture, energy, and transportation. For example, our funds are helping repair civilian power grids damaged by Russia’s barbaric missile strikes. They also enable the continued export of grain.
We welcome President Zelenskyy’s ardent commitment to handling these funds in the “most responsible way.” Our delivery partners at the World Bank have instituted robust safeguards for transparency and accountability. And the U.S. government has deployed independent, third-party monitors to bolster oversight. Even before the war, President Zelenskyy pursued an agenda to strengthen good governance. We share his recognition that these standards are just as important in wartime as in peacetime. These standards enable vital assistance to reach people in need. They bolster Ukraine’s European Union ambitions. Transparency and accountability will become even more important as Ukraine rebuilds its infrastructure and recovers from the impacts of the war.
As the U.S. continues to support Ukraine economically, we will press for more action by our allies and partners. We expect to see the IMF move speedily toward establishing an ambitious and fully financed program. And we are ready to support Ukraine in making sure this happens in a timely way. We are also committed to supporting Ukraine in its eventual reconstruction effort. In preparation, Ukraine, the United States, the European Commission, and the rest of the G7 have established an inclusive platform to mobilize donors from across the globe and coordinate assistance flows.
As heroic Ukrainian soldiers repel Russian attacks, we are also leading a multilateral coalition to impose heavy costs on Russia for its barbaric war. We have one objective: to help end Russia’s war. Toward this aim, our coalition of over 30 countries has mounted the swiftest, most unified, and most ambitious sanctions regime in modern history.
We have taken coordinated actions to degrade Russia’s military-industrial complex and deny Russia the revenue to fund its war. We are systematically disrupting Russia’s military supply chains. This is making it harder for Russia to replace the over 9,000 military vehicles, artillery, and other pieces of equipment it has lost on the battlefield. We are going after Iranian drone companies and facilitators that have supplied weapons to Russia. We have also enacted export controls to restrict Russia’s access to cutting-edge technology. These measures are particularly powerful because the U.S. and our allies are the main producers – or in some cases, the only producers – of many critical military inputs. In the past year, Russia has suffered production shutdowns at key defense-industrial facilities. And it’s struggling amid shortages of inputs for tanks, aircraft, and submarines.
The United States and our partners have also taken a range of innovative actions to reduce the revenues that the Kremlin can use to fund its war. We have cut off major parts of the Russian financial system from the global economy. Our coalition has also immobilized vast central bank reserves that Russia was counting on to fuel its war effort. We have implemented price caps on Russian seaborne exports of crude oil and refined products. These caps have helped drive Russian government oil revenues nearly 60 percent lower last month than they were immediately after the invasion.
As you saw with our new actions last week, we will not rest until the war ends. A central piece of our strategy in 2023 will be to disrupt Russia’s attempts to evade our sanctions. We will improve coordination with our allies. We will target dual-use inputs that Russia has been repurposing for its war effort. And we will raise the pressure on companies and jurisdictions that are backfilling or facilitating sanctions evasion. Let me be clear: the United States will not hesitate to use our authorities to disrupt entities that help the Kremlin evade our sanctions.
Ukraine has now entered the second year of a full-scale war it did not choose. It is engaged in a battle – not to dominate, but to defend. To defend not only Ukrainian lives and territory – but freedom and the free world itself.
The great Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko once wrote: “the history of my life is a part of the history of my homeland.” That was true in 1991, 2004, and 2014. It is especially true now. The grief of Bucha, the resistance in Mariupol , and the counteroffensives in Kherson and Kharkiv – I know these are events seared into your and your nation’s consciousness.
I am honored to stand in Kyiv today with you. There will be difficult days ahead. Many of you have endured more suffering in the past year than most people do in their entire lifetimes. And yet, you have told me that what you’ve been through only hardens your resolve.
Just as your life is a part of the history of Ukraine – I believe that Ukraine is a central part of the history of the free world. And you are writing our history right now. As you do, I hope you know this: America stands with you in this fight for freedom. And we will be by your side to help you rebuild.