On August 24, 1991, Ukraine declared its independence from the Soviet Union and began to forge its own future. Russia, however, refused to accept Ukraine as a sovereign state and has been chipping away at its territory, undermining its institutions, sabotaging or coopting its leaders, and attempting to dictate its foreign policy to block Ukraine’s sincere aspirations for greater integration with Europe and the West. In short, Russia has for years worked to cripple Ukraine’s ability to function as a sovereign democratic state.
In 2014, the people of Ukraine ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, who chose to scrap Ukraine’s planned signing of an Association Agreement with the European Union and instead turned toward Russia. Subsequently, Russia invaded and occupied Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. It also then attempted a takeover of Ukraine’s Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts under the guise of a “separatist” uprising.
“Nowhere in Ukraine are people free from Russia’s malign activities,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“Moscow has sought to undermine Ukraine’s democratic institutions, interfered in Ukraine’s politics and elections, blocked energy and commerce to intimidate Ukraine’s leaders and pressure its citizens, used propaganda and disinformation to sow mistrust, and launched cyberattacks on the country’s critical infrastructure. The campaign to destabilize Ukraine has been relentless.”
With one hundred thousand Russian soldiers amassed on Ukraine’s borders with Russia and with Russia’s close ally Belarus, “Russia is poised to go even further,” said Secretary Blinken.
“Russia justifies its actions by claiming that Ukraine somehow poses a threat to its security. This turns reality on its head. Whose troops are surrounding whom? Which country has claimed another’s territory through force? Which military is many times the size of the other? Which country has nuclear weapons? Ukraine isn’t the aggressor here; Ukraine is just trying to survive.”
“The governing principles of international peace and security … established in the wake of two world wars and a cold war, reject the right of one country to change the borders of another by force; to dictate to another the policies it pursues or the choices it makes, including with whom to associate; or to exert a sphere of influence that would subjugate sovereign neighbors to its will,” said Secretary of State Blinken.
“This is not only about a possible invasion and war. It’s about whether Ukraine has a right to exist as a sovereign nation. It’s about whether Ukraine has a right to be a democracy.”