24 February 2023
Hello. I’m Mark Brzezinski, United States Ambassador to Poland.
Thank you for the invitation to address this meeting of the Europe of the Carpathians conference and for convening this timely and important series of discussions.
Today marks one year to the day since Russia unleashed its barbaric, full-scale assault upon Ukraine, causing more than eight million people to flee their homeland, seeking safety.
Three hundred and sixty-five days of innocent civilians forced to fear for their lives and the nation they call home. Fear that the act of buying food to eat or fuel to keep warm will place them in mortal danger. Fear that Russia’s aggression will destroy their country – physically; politically; permanently.
For many, to flee was the only option for the safety of their children and their families, while their brave compatriots resist Putin’s war of choice.
Russia chose to begin this war, and Russia chooses every day to needlessly continue its brutality.
All of us – the United States, Poland, our Allies and partners, and each of you – all of us choose the opposite: to stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
We have met a year of death and depravation inflicted upon the Ukrainian people with boundless compassion.
The humanitarian superpower of Poland has shown itself these past twelve months. I would like to again express my immense gratitude to the Polish people and my counterparts in the Polish government for this.
I have the privilege of bearing witness to the extraordinary Polish response to this crisis and to work with Polish leadership to coordinate our efforts. And it’s not just us. Countries here in Central Europe and beyond are offering unwavering support for Ukraine and a commitment to stand with the Ukrainian people for as long as it takes.
During his historic visit to Poland, President Biden met with the leaders of the Bucharest Nine to further our shared efforts. President Biden said at that meeting that:
“As NATO’s eastern flank, you’re the frontlines of our collective defense. And you know better than anyone what’s at stake in this conflict – not just for Ukraine, but for the freedom of democracies throughout Europe and around the world.”
We must continue to rise to this challenge. To continue to answer brutality and destruction with compassion, support, and unwavering strength. To stand by the nation of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. To stand with the people of Poland and all of those in the region who open their arms in welcome to those left with no choice but to flee.
Together, we will show the world that we stand on the side of freedom. That we stand on the side of humanity. That our resolve to oppose autocrats is unshakeable. Our belief in democracy unconquerable. That the yearning of huddled masses to breathe free is indefatigable. The shining light of liberty, inextinguishable.
One year later, let us continue to echo the cries of the brave unto victory: Slava Ukraini!