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Our Strength is Our Unity: Putin Chose War. We Remain United with Ukraine
March 12, 2022

Our Strength is Our Unity: Putin Chose War. We Remain United with Ukraine

Sandra Oudkirk,
Director of the American Institute in Taiwan

This is a dangerous moment for Europe and for freedom-loving people around the world.  By launching his brutal assault on the people of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has also committed an assault on the principles that uphold global peace and democracy.  But the people of Ukraine are resilient. They’ve had a democracy for decades, and their bravery is inspiring the world.

United in Our Response

Two things have become increasingly clear since this war began. First, the Ukrainian people are not going to give up.  Second, the Russian people themselves, including many Russian soldiers, are not fully behind this war.  The response to Putin’s war has been unity among world leaders.  Together, the United States and our allies and partners are taking action to hold Russia accountable.  As a result of unprecedented global sanctions coordination, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Japan, and Canada have removed selected Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system and imposed restrictive measures on the Russian Central Bank.  President Biden announced sweeping financial sanctions and stringent export controls that will damage Russia’s economy, financial system, and cripple its access to cutting-edge technology. We unveiled an expansive and unprecedented set of export restrictions developed in historically close coordination with the European Union, Australia, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Taiwan.

In addition to economic penalties, President Biden authorized an additional $350 million of security assistance to immediately help Ukraine defend itself, bringing America’s total security assistance to Ukraine over the past year to more than $1 billion.  The U.S. Congress has committed $13.6 billion in humanitarian aid and security assistance to support Ukraine and its people. The United States has also coordinated with major oil-producing and -consuming countries to underscore our common interest in securing global energy supplies.  We are working with energy companies to surge their capacity to supply energy to the market, particularly as prices increase.

Putin’s Unprovoked and Premeditated War

This was an attack that Vladimir Putin has planned for a long time.  He methodically moved more than 150,000 troops and military equipment to Ukraine’s border.  He moved blood supplies into position and built field hospitals, demonstrating his intentions all along.  He rejected every good-faith effort by the United States and our allies and partners to address his fabricated security concerns and to avoid needless conflict and human suffering by engaging in diplomacy and dialogue.

Putin executed his playbook exactly as we had warned he would do.  We saw Russia’s proxies increase their shelling in the Donbas.  We saw the Russian government launch cyber-operations against Ukraine.  We saw staged political theater in Moscow and heard outlandish and baseless claims made about Ukraine in an attempt to justify Russia’s aggression.  Russia continues to justify its military aggression by falsely claiming the need to stop “genocide” in Ukraine – despite there being no evidence that genocide was occurring there.  We saw Russia use these tactics before when they invaded Ukraine in 2014 and Georgia in 2008.

And then, at almost the very same moment the United Nations Security Council was meeting to stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty and forestall disaster, Putin launched his invasion in violation of international law.  Missiles began to rain down, striking historic cities across Ukraine.  Then came air raids, columns of tanks, and battalions of troops, all riding a renewed wave of disinformation and outright lies.

We declassified our intelligence about Russia’s plans so there could be no confusion and no cover up.  Putin is the aggressor.  Putin chose this war.  And now his people will bear the consequences of his decision to invest in war rather than in them.

Transatlantic Unity and Resolve Stronger Than Ever

In the face one of the most significant challenges to European security and democratic ideals since World War II, the United States and our allies and partners have joined together in solidarity.  We have united, coordinating intensively to engage as one with Russia and Ukraine, provide assistance to Ukraine, develop a broad and massive response, and reaffirm our commitment to NATO.  Our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific, including Taiwan, have been an integral part of this united effort.  They have been instrumental in supporting the people of Ukraine in their hour of need and forcefully rejecting and condemning Putin’s actions.  Taiwan sent humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, and its people and companies have pledged financial assistance to help refugees from Ukraine and have joined in export controls.

The next few days, weeks, and months will be incredibly difficult for the people of Ukraine.  Putin has unleashed great suffering on them.  But the Ukrainian people have known 30 years of independence, and they have repeatedly shown they will not tolerate anyone who tries to take their country backwards.  They have demonstrated profound courage and the importance of whole of society efforts on civilian preparedness in the face of armed aggression.  There are lessons all of us, in the United States and Taiwan, can take from this response.  The world is watching this conflict closely, and if Russian forces commit atrocities, we will explore all international mechanisms that could be used to bring those responsible – whether members of the military or their civilian leadership – to account.

Putin’s aggression against Ukraine will cost Russia profoundly, both economically and strategically.  The Russian people deserve better from their government than the immense cost to their future that this invasion has precipitated.

In this time of uncertainty, the democratic values we share with our allies and partners allow us to join together in the face of a common challenge.  Whether it takes a week, a month, or a year to play out, we believe the Ukrainian people will prevail.  The United States, together with our allies and partners across the globe, will continue to back the Ukrainian people in their fight for their country.