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Cheney In Ukraine

Vice President Dick Cheney visited Ukraine recently to express U.S. support for Ukraine's security and self-determination.

The United States, said Mr. Cheney, has a clear message for Ukraine: "For almost two decades, we have stood by you to help you secure your independence, sovereignty and integration into the international community." The U.S. is determined to strengthen its bond with Ukraine not just now, but for the long term.

Speaking to the Russian invasion of Georgia during his visit to the Ukraine, Mr. Cheney said the Georgian people are looking to both the United States and Ukraine "and the rest of the free world, to support them in this time of great trial and testing, and we must answer the call."

"Russia's actions," said Vice President Cheney, "have cast grave doubt on Russia's intentions and its reliability as an international partner – not just in Georgia, but throughout the region."

Ukraine declared its independence in 1991 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Since then it has worked hard to consolidate its democratic gains. A critical aspect of that consolidation is the development of ever-stronger ties of cooperation and security throughout Europe, and across the Atlantic. A closer strategic relationship is in the interest of all, said Mr. Cheney.

As free countries, the U.S. and European nations, believe in the right of men and women to live without threat of tyranny, economic blackmail, or military invasion or intimidation. "Ukraine's best hope to overcome these threats," said Mr. Cheney, "is to be united -- united domestically first and foremost, and united with other democracies."

Ukraine clearly supports the cause of freedom around the world. As President George Bush noted in Kyiv some months ago, Ukraine is the only non-NATO country supporting every NATO mission, from Afghanistan to Kosovo. Ukrainians have a right to choose whether they want to join NATO. And NATO, said Mr. Cheney, has a right to invite Ukraine to join the alliance when Ukraine is ready and the time is right.

"Having seized their independence," said Vice President Cheney, "the people of Ukraine are writing a new and momentous chapter in the history of this land -- one that has important implications, not just for Ukraine, but for the future peace and security of our world."