The invasion that Vladimir Putin thought would last for days is now entering its fourth month. The Ukrainian people surprised Russia and inspired the world with their sacrifice, courage and success on the battlefield. The free world and many other nations, led by the United States, sided with Ukraine with unprecedented military, humanitarian and financial support.
As the war continues, I want to be clear about the goals of the United States in these efforts.
America’s goal is clear: we want a democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous Ukraine with the means to deter and defend itself against further aggression.
As Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has said, this war will ultimately “end definitively only through diplomacy.” Every negotiation reflects the facts on the spot. We took swift action to send Ukraine a significant amount of weapons and ammunition so that it can fight on the battlefield and sit in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table.
That is why I have decided that we will provide the Ukrainians with more advanced missile systems and ammunition that will allow them to attack key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine more accurately.
We will continue to work with our allies and partners on Russia’s sanctions, the toughest ever imposed on a major economy. We will continue to provide Ukraine with advanced weapons, including Javelin anti-tank missiles, Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, high-powered artillery and precision missile systems, radars, unmanned aerial vehicles, Mi-17 helicopters and ammunition. We will also send billions more in financial aid, as approved by Congress. We will work with our allies and partners to address the global food crisis that is exacerbating Russia’s aggression. And we will help our European allies and others reduce their dependence on Russian fossil fuels and accelerate our transition to a clean energy future.
We will also continue to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank with forces and capabilities from the United States and other allies. And recently I welcomed applications from Finland and Sweden to join NATO, a move that will strengthen the overall security of the US and the transatlantic by adding two democratic and highly capable military partners.
We are not seeking a war between NATO and Russia. As much as I disagree with Mr Putin and find his actions disgraceful, the United States will not try to secure his impeachment in Moscow. As long as the United States or our allies are not attacked, we will not be directly involved in this conflict, either by sending American troops to fight in Ukraine, or by attacking Russian troops. We do not encourage Ukraine to strike outside its borders. We don’t want to prolong the war to hurt Russia.
My principle during this crisis was: “Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.” I will not pressure the Ukrainian government – private or public – to make territorial concessions. It would be wrong and contrary to established principles to do so.
Ukraine’s talks with Russia are not deadlocked because Ukraine has turned its back on diplomacy. They have stalled as Russia continues to wage war to take over as much of Ukraine as possible. The United States will continue its efforts to strengthen Ukraine and support its efforts to negotiate an end to the conflict.
Unprovoked aggression, the bombing of maternity hospitals and cultural centers and the forced displacement of millions of people make the war in Ukraine a profound moral issue. I met Ukrainian refugees in Poland – women and children who weren’t sure what their lives would be like and whether the loved ones left behind in Ukraine would be okay. No conscientious conscience could remain unmoved by the devastation of these horrors.
Assisting Ukraine in its hour of need is not just the right thing to do. It is in our vital national interest to ensure a peaceful and stable Europe and to make it clear that may not make up for it. If Russia does not pay a heavy price for its actions, it will send a message to other potential aggressors that they too can conquer territory and subjugate other countries. It will endanger the survival of other peaceful democracies. And it could spell the end of the rules-based international order and open the door to aggression elsewhere, with catastrophic consequences around the world.
I know that many people around the world are concerned about the use of nuclear weapons. We currently see no indication that Russia intends to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, although Russia’s occasional rhetoric of rattling the nuclear saber is in itself dangerous and extremely irresponsible. Let me be clear: any use of nuclear weapons in this conflict, on any scale, would be completely unacceptable to us and the rest of the world and would have dire consequences.
Americans will stay on track with the Ukrainian people because we understand that freedom is not free. That’s what we’ve always done when the enemies of freedom try to bully and oppress innocent people, and that’s what we’re doing now. Vladimir Putin did not expect this degree of unity or the strength of our response. He was wrong. If he expects us to waver or break in the coming months, he’s just as wrong.