European countries and the entire free world should encourage Russian citizens to fight for a change in Russian policy - address by the President of Ukraine to the participants of the Bled Strategic Forum (Slovenia)
President of Ukraine
29 August 2022 - 21:12
Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen!
Dear participants of the Forum!
I am grateful for this opportunity to address you and everyone present, as well as all Europeans!
Today is an important day for us - the Day of Remembrance of the Defenders of Ukraine who died in the struggle for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of our state. At this time, in August 2014, Ukrainian warriors were vilely killed near the city of Ilovaisk in Donbas. They were brutally shot by Russian troops. Ukraine lost hundreds of its sons then - in a few days. Hundreds of those thousands perished in the war since 2014.
In the war that reached the scale of a total war on February 24 of this year. Russia's full-scale war against the life and freedom of our people, against ordinary peaceful cities that are being destroyed by Russian artillery, and against the culture of our people, which Russia wants to completely erase - Russian propagandists and officials do not even conceal this goal, they say absolutely openly that they want to destroy everything Ukrainian. So that it does not exist.
They do not perceive the very fact of the independent existence of our people. Like any of your people. As we repel Russian aggression on our soil, we protect every European people from exactly the same expansion - the expansion of those who have nothing human left in them.
Is there any human in someone who rapes children in front of their parents? In the one who forces the inhabitants of the entire village - everyone from small children to the elderly - to sit in the basement of the school for a month? Is there any human in someone who strikes heavy anti-ship missiles, which were built to destroy aircraft carriers, at an ordinary shopping mall full of people. In the one who supplies shells to the artillery, which day after day burns city blocks, ordinary residential buildings. In the one who interrogates and tortures people in the so-called filtration camps created by Russian forces throughout the occupied territory. Imagine: XXI century, filtration camps. Is there any human in someone who separates Ukrainian children from their parents and gives them for criminal adoption in Russia knowing that these children have relatives in Ukraine. Relatives who are alive and who are looking for them.
When we talk about Russian aggression against Ukraine and all of Russia's pressure on Europe accompanying this aggression - and this is very cynical pressure, this is the deliberate destruction of normal economic and social life, this is the energy and price crises in Europe, which are artificially exacerbated by Russia - when we talk about all this, we mean not only those who are at the highest levels of the Russian power hierarchy. We are talking about thousands and thousands of different people with the passport of a Russian citizen.
About those who shoot at our soldiers on the battlefield and shoot civilians in the back of the head. We are talking about those who press the buttons to strike Russian missiles at Ukrainian cities. About those who design and manufacture these missiles and other weapons used for terror. Those who work in companies that provide for the Russian army and special services. Those who conscript, transport and in every way support Russian murderers. We are talking about those who provide for corrupt Russian officials and generals, who manage numerous businesses that are related to corrupt Russian officials. Those who sow hatred for any manifestation of freedom, promote war, support repression. Those who remain silent when they see all this and do nothing - do not protest, do not fight - even when they are completely safe in European countries.
Russia's war against Ukraine has been ongoing since 2014. For more than six months, the Russian state has been spending all its available resources to destroy our state and split Europe. Most European countries have already seen and experienced one or another of Russia's attempts to put pressure, inflict damage and bring suffering to people.
And according to the logic of any normal person, it is the citizens of Russia who have something human left in them who should be the first to oppose the war. If they have conscience, if they have shame. But we do not see constant and noticeable anti-war protests with the participation of citizens of this state - even where there is no risk for them of any repression for protests, I repeat this once again. Why so? I'll leave you with that question. It is complicated - so why is it so?
Europe is not a quiet haven where you can just sit out the time when someone else is fighting against Russian terror. But, unfortunately, many citizens of Russia perceive Europe this way. That is why they need European visas. And, unfortunately, none of your states is immune from the fact that war criminals, on whose hands there is the blood of Ukrainians, will come to you simply as tourists, and one day they will receive an order - and they will become not tourists at all.
It shouldn't be like that. And all of us in Europe have to protect ourselves from this. Both those who are part of the European Union and all other European countries. Because Russian terror is an equal threat to all of us, to all who live here, to all European nations.
The one who does not fight against terror supports it, and therefore shares the responsibility for all its consequences. This should be the rule that overrides all other rules. A state that threatens everyone around it - from the Baltic states to Kazakhstan - should be under a full embargo from everyone in the world who values freedom and respects themselves. We need an embargo on all relations with Russia, with a terrorist state, as long as Russia continues the war, occupies foreign territory, destroys the lives of other nations.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
Ukraine is paying the most terrible price for freedom and for the ideals we share with you. Thousands of people died. Dozens of cities and villages were destroyed, now they are black ruins that look through burned windows at Russia and whether the world is able to stop it and bring it to account for everything done against peaceful people.
Millions of Ukrainians were forced to leave their native places fleeing hostilities. And we can't stand seeing how someone under the flag of the occupiers humiliates our people in some European cities sometimes. We can't stand seeing how thousands of those responsible for this war smile cynically, hoping that Russia will succeed in breaking Europe and returning to, as they call it, business as usual. And hundreds of millions of people throughout the free world can't stand seeing it either.
Hence, we need to act now so that our shared freedom is protected for generations to come. The stability and free development of Eastern Europe, the Balkans and all other parts of our continent of values, our continent of freedom must be protected and guaranteed. And that means very specific things.
Sufficient defense support for Ukraine, support with weapons, shells, so that this war does not drag on, so that victory is achieved as soon as possible.
Sufficient sanction pressure on Russia - to destroy the illusion of the Russian leadership that they will be able withstand the struggle against the free world.
Sufficient protection of Europe itself - our people, our markets from Russia's hybrid aggression, which is betting on the spread of crises and poverty as much as it is betting on weapons.
This also means our close coordination in strengthening our association, in the integration processes in Europe, in security cooperation between our states. A stronger Ukraine means a stronger Europe. A stronger Balkans means a stronger Europe. We must continue to help each other on the European path, as we are doing now.
And it is imperative that the entire European Union, all European countries and the entire free world encourage Russian citizens to fight for a change in Russian state policy, encourage them not to remain silent and not to be complicit in terror.
You know what to do. I am grateful to everyone who is already helping Ukraine. By helping us, you gave not excess, but what really matters to you. We appreciate it. We know that when we are fighting, when all of us are fighting together against this aggression, we are not just fighting for ourselves, but for Europe to win. The real struggle of each country for independence is a difficult path, it is what generations gain. And now we have the opportunity to achieve victory for ourselves, for our children, for our grandchildren, for all generations of our nations who fought for freedom earlier.
I am sure we will win. We will win together. And this will be done in the name of Europe, in the name of all those who gave their lives for freedom.
I thank you for your support!
I thank you for your attention!
Glory to Ukraine!
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