Seven years ago, on September 18, 2014, President Petro Poroshenko addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress during his working visit to the United States. Mr. Poroshenko noted that the honor of addressing both chambers of Congress was not his, but it belonged “to the people of Ukraine, those brave men and women who are today on the forefront of the global fight for democracy!” he said.
Freedom, Mr. Poroshenko underscored, was the focus of his address and it was freedom that continued to be under threat, not only for Ukraine’s existence. He continued: “…The people of Ukraine stood up to the corrupt regime of [Viktor] Yanukovych. They stood their ground during this dramatic winter – and they are standing their ground right now!”
The victory on Independence Square during the Revolution of Dignity was a victory against police brutality, harassment by the state-controlled media, violence and intimidation – all threats that continue in Russia and in Russia-controlled territories, not only in Ukraine, he said.
“There is nothing more impressive than seeing hundreds of thousands of peaceful people forcing out a violent dictator, and changing the course of history,” said Mr. Poroshenko, who acknowledged the sacrifice of the Heavenly Hundred who were killed by sniper fire during the Euro-Maidan protests.
Mr. Poroshenko reminded his listeners that Russia violated the 1994 Budapest Memorandum by annexing Crimea in 2014 and he spoke about Russia’s behavior in 2008 in Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions, as well as in the Russia-created Transnistria region of Moldova. He sounded the alarm bell, noting that Russia was watching how the U.S. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) would respond to such threats.
The solution to such threats, he noted, included identifying common values and areas of cooperation and interdependence.
“I urge you to not let Ukraine stand alone in the face of this aggression. The United States made a commitment that it would stand behind Ukraine’s territorial integrity – and we hope that it will live up to that promise,” Mr. Poroshenko said.
Calling attention to the plight of Ukraine’s underequipped military units defending Europe from Russian aggression, and appealing for increased military assistance, Mr. Poroshenko reminded his audience that this is Europe’s war, America’s war and a war of the free world for a free world. Mr. Poroshenko famously reiterated that Ukraine does not need more blankets, but instead it needed lethal as well as non-lethal military equipment.
Mr. Poroshenko stressed Ukraine’s solidarity with and commitment to the Crimean Tatars, who have been targeted by the Russia-backed authorities there, and reminded his listeners that the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukrainian airspace was yet another example of Russia using terrorism to achieve its goals.
As Ukraine worked to throw of a legacy of rampant corruption, and while Mr. Poroshenko acknowledged that further reforms were still needed in Ukraine before the country could join Euro-Atlantic structures, it also needed investment from American companies in Ukrainian businesses, the former Ukrainian president said.
Mr. Poroshenko encouraged continued assistance for Ukraine, saying, “…By supporting Ukraine, you support a new future for Europe and the entire free world. By supporting Ukraine, you support a nation that has chosen freedom in the most cynical of times.”
Prior to his visit to the United States, Mr. Poroshenko also visited Canada, where he addressed a joint session of the Canadian parliament on September 17.
Source: “Poroshenko in United States Congress,” The Ukrainian Weekly, September 28, 2014.