The statement below was released by the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America on November 20 (after The Ukrainian Weekly’s November 22 issue went to press). We publish it here for the record.
For a land with centuries of tradition, November 21 is only a recent commemorative date in Ukraine’s history. On this Day of Dignity and Freedom, the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America joins our brethren across the world in celebrating the indomitable Ukrainian spirit that manifested itself in the growth of European identity among the Ukrainian electorate during the historic 2004 Orange Revolution, and the defense of these democratic values, rights and freedoms for which the Ukrainian people “laid body and soul” during the 2013-2014 Revolution of Dignity.
These historic revolutions transformed not only the lives of those living in Ukraine, but those of the worldwide Ukrainian diaspora as well. In the United States, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in the spirit of the Euro-Maidan, filling the streets of New York, Chicago, Georgia, Texas, Ohio, California and beyond. During the Orange Revolution, the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America organized the largest election observer mission ever registered by Ukraine’s Central Election Commission, with over 2,400 observers flying in from around the world to ensure that the 2004 Ukrainian presidential elections would be transparent, democratic and in accordance with international standards.
Throughout the course of both the Revolution of Dignity and the Orange Revolution, Ukrainians in the United States bore witness to an incredible outpouring of support from our friends and allies, especially those in elected office, whose numerous House of Representatives and Senate resolutions in support of Ukraine were passed with near unanimity, along with many more resolutions in local state houses and municipalities.
And yet, Ukraine today still stands denied of its international right of sovereignty over its own borders, and roughly 3.2 million people now live amid destruction or in dire need of humanitarian aid since Russia invaded Ukraine over a year ago. Over the span of 20 months, more than 2 million people have been forced to leave their homes, over 8,000 people have died, while close to 20,000 have been wounded as a result of Russia’s military campaign.
In the face of this aggression, the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, the nation’s largest representation of Americans of Ukrainian descent, stands united with Ukraine and its people, vigilant against recent international signals of rapprochement with Russia, the greatest threat to global stability and U.S. national security, and a state sponsor of terrorism. The fundamental ideas of freedom and dignity for which Ukrainians stood and died on the Maidan must not be sacrificed chasing the hope that a mad dictator will change his ways. If a wounded and strained Western alliance begins to doubt its ability to safeguard our principles and freedoms, we must rally to remind them of the folly of appeasement.
Ukraine’s Day of Freedom and Dignity stands in direct contradiction to the resolutions of the Yalta Conference, and the concepts of spheres of influence or Finlandization. When millions of everyday Ukrainians gathered together at the height of Kyiv’s winter, propelled by prayer and in song, they demonstrated their Europeanness, dignity and desire for freedom, astounding the world and exceeding its expectations about Ukraine. So too must the rest of the world exceed our expectations of them, and stand united with Ukraine in defense of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and against Russian aggression worldwide.