U.S. Ambassador to Kosovo Jeffrey M. Hovenier
I hope you have the chance to pass by the U.S. Embassy in Pristina today.
If you do, you’ll see a large banner on prominent display. It reads, simply, “United with Ukraine.”
That’s because 32 years ago today, Ukraine re-established its independence as the Soviet Union disintegrated. The international community rushed to recognize and welcome Ukraine to the growing community of democracies, seeing the country’s promise for a future world at peace.
Unfortunately, the Kremlin has repeatedly undermined attempts to maintain peace in the region through interference in Ukrainian internal affairs, leading to Russia’s invasion and occupation of Crimea and Donbas in 2014 and culminating in its all-out and brutal war of aggression on Ukraine beginning in February 2022.
As we congratulate Ukraine on this historic day, we reiterate our steadfast support to defend its independence, territorial integrity, and sovereignty. As President Biden said last month, “Our commitment to Ukraine will not weaken. We will stand for liberty and freedom today, tomorrow, and for as long as it takes.” Putting it in simple terms: President Putin’s brutal, full-scale invasion of Ukraine is an action that threatens the peace and security of not just one country, but of all of Europe and beyond.
Over the two past decades, Russia has invaded two neighboring countries, interfered in multiple foreign elections, used chemical weapons to conduct assassinations on foreign soil, wielded gas deliveries as a political tool, and violated international arms control agreements.
Just last month, Russia withdrew unilaterally from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which previously had brought approximately 33 million tons of grain exports to global markets. Well over half of that grain and two-thirds of the exported wheat had been sent to developing countries.
Days later, the global price of grain rose 17 percent, while Russia announced record grain exports. The Kremlin played the market to exact a high price for itself at the expense of the world’s most vulnerable even as it surged its attacks on Ukraine’s ports and grain.
Here, the people of Kosovo have demonstrated tremendous solidarity and partnership to support Ukraine. We recognize the importance of your contribution to this shared global effort to stand firmly against aggression, to support democracy, and to oppose Putin’s attempt to thwart the global world order as we seek to achieve a Europe that is “whole, free and at peace.”
Kosovo’s solidarity matters and has had an impact. As I’ve said before: what you, Kosovo, stand for, and whom you stand with, matters. The people of Kosovo are integral to this global effort to reject Putin’s brutal challenge to an independent and sovereign nation. The United States, Kosovo, and our partners will continue to stand united with Ukraine today, as we observe Ukraine’s national day together, and every day in our support of democratic values and European security.