Secretary Blinken at a Meeting with Ukrainian Civil Society

U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken meets with Ukrainian civil society organization representatives in Rzeszow, Poland, on March 5, 2022. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain]





MARCH 5, 2022

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good evening.  It’s wonderful to be able to see all of you, except I wish it was not here – I wish it was actually in Kyiv or somewhere else in Ukraine.  I’m first of all very sorry that – I know some of you have had very challenging journeys just to get here, but I’m grateful to see each of you.  I know from so much of the work that that you’ve been doing that over these years, you’ve been building civil society, building democracy in Ukraine.

And of course, one of the things that Vladimir Putin is trying to tear apart is the very work that you’ve been doing.  I think that that’s, in a sense, not a coincidence, because to the extent Ukraine is a successful and strong democracy with a strong civil society at its core, it stands in very stark juxtaposition to the society and system that President Putin has constructed in Russia.

And so in a sense, Ukraine’s success – the very success that you’ve been building – is a threat to everything President Putin is trying to do in Russia.  But I was just anxious to have a chance to hear from a few of you about the work you’ve been doing, the progress that that you’ve made in these years, and what we can do and how we can help to – even in these very, very difficult circumstances – continue the work you’re doing.

But in any event, welcome, and it’s good to see each of you here.  Kristina, is there anything you wanted to say at the top?

MS KVIEN:  No, other than we’re very glad to have you here.  And these are partners that we work with closely on anti-corruption, but I think now they have moved into other areas.  And I think they’ll be happy to describe to you what they do now.