Respecting Ukraine’s Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity

Respecting Ukraine’s Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity

November 3, 2022
Ambassador Jeffrey Hovenier

During the Women Peace and Security Forum in Pristina a few weeks ago, I joined hundreds of others to applaud as President Osmani awarded the women of Ukraine the Presidential Medal of Merits. We were all moved by Ukrainian Member of Parliament Yevgenia Kravchuk’s remarks when she accepted the medal on their behalf. Ms. Kravchuk shared how President Putin’s brutal, unjustified assault on Ukraine affected – and continues to affect – the lives of everyone in Ukraine. She described the horrific air raids against Ukraine’s peaceful cities, and how Ukranian children are growing up in a time of war – waking up and going to a bomb shelter instead of going to school. In fact, Ms. Kravchuk noted that at the exact moment she was speaking to us in Pristina, her daughter was in a bomb shelter to protect herself from missile strikes.

Russia’s invasion and ongoing aggression has inflicted a terrible toll on so many. We will continue to advocate for Ukraine’s sovereignty at the United Nations and provide support for the people of Ukraine as Russia does everything in its power— forced deportations and “filtration” operations, summary murder of civilians, constant threats to lives and livelihoods, and the installation of Russian proxies— to undermine it. And we will continue to work with our allies and partners to impose costs on Russia.

The United States welcomed Kosovo’s swift condemnation of the Kremlin’s unprovoked and baseless invasion and its expression of full solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Kosovo opened its doors to Ukrainians taking refuge here, to include the Ukrainian journalists now in residence in Kosovo, many of whom were also on stage to accept the medal bestowed by President Osmani. These journalists continue to bravely ensure that people around the world have access to reliable and accurate information about what is happening in Ukraine.

Kosovo also immediately aligned with U.S. and EU sanctions in support of Ukraine, demonstrating once again its commitment to being part of the world of free and sovereign democracies.

Our commitment to Ukraine is ironclad. The Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine are a direct assault on the UN Charter and its key principles: sovereignty, territorial integrity, and peace and security for states both great and small. The United States and our partners and allies have long supported these principles, which are the foundation of the international order built and sustained by countries from around the globe since the end of World War II. In defying these principles, Russia seeks to undermine the international system itself.

As President Biden said, “The world has sent a clear message: Russia cannot erase a sovereign state from the map. Russia cannot change borders by force. Russia cannot seize another country’s territory as its own.”

The Kremlin’s recent sham referenda were nothing more than a false pretext to try to annex parts of Ukraine by force. These propaganda stunts were an effort to mask Russia’s futile attempt at a land grab in Ukraine. The “results” were concocted in Moscow, not collected in Ukraine, and they represent the will of Moscow, not the free will of Ukraine and its people. Russia forced Ukraine’s citizens, who are trapped by Russia’s military, to cast ballots at gunpoint. On September 30, Russia tried to shield itself from accountability and responsibility by vetoing a UN Security Council resolution condemning its so-called “referenda” and annexation attempts. But Russia was isolated – not one single country voted with Russia.

We will never recognize these areas as part of any country other than Ukraine, and we will support Ukraine for as long as it takes. As Ukraine regains control over more of its own territory and the staggering human toll of Russia’s aggression is further unveiled, the Kremlin is desperately rushing to distract the world’s attention from its military losses and war crimes.

President Putin’s own actions have only further isolated Russia and bolstered international resolve to stand with Ukraine. His nuclear saber-rattling, the sham referenda, his forced mobilization, and the broad – and sometimes violent – crackdown on Russians exercising their own rights to express themselves have galvanized opinions, but not in the way that he intended.

In response, the United States and our allies and partners, including Kosovo, are imposing swift and severe costs targeting Russian government officials, their family members, Russian and Belarusian military officials, and defense procurement networks, including international suppliers supporting Russia’s military-industrial complex. From visa restrictions to sanctions, actions across the U.S. government continue to add to expansive economic measures imposed on Russia to hold it accountable for its unprovoked war in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s people have publicly and consistently expressed their desire for a free and democratic future. They are determined to remain independent and sovereign. Ukrainians are fighting bravely. They are fighting and resisting Russia’s efforts to change Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders by brute force.

We will continue to stand together with our partners, including Kosovo, in defending the core tenets of the UN Charter. And we will continue to assist the people of Ukraine and provide them with support to help them defend themselves and their territory against Russia’s illegal invasion.