The speech by the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Ruslan Stefanchuk at the NATO Parliamentary Summit “Strong and Independent Ukraine: A long-term support plan for Ukraine” (Vilnius, 2 June 2023)
02 June 2023, 17:00
Dear Madam Speaker, dear Viktorija,
First of all, I would like to express my deep gratitude to the Lithuanian people who have selflessly supported Ukraine since the first day of russian aggression.
I would also like to sincerely thank all the delegations for the enormous assistance that your countries provide us in our struggle for the right to be free, for the right to choose our own path of development, for the right to be part of the democratic European and global community.
I highly appreciate the initiative of the Speaker of the Seimas, Ms Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, to hold our parliamentary summit.
Today’s meeting is about the role of parliaments.
After all, parliaments are directly responsible to their citizens, to the voters who elected them, for the decisions they make.
I want us to remember this before making important and perhaps fateful decisions.
I would like to illustrate the cost of such decisions, or rather the lack of them, by looking at two events that happened fifteen and ten years ago.
Yes, I am referring to the 2008 NATO Summit in Bucharest and the 2013 EU Summit here in Vilnius.
I believe that these are events of the same series.
In Bucharest, unfortunately, there was not enough political will and courage to give Ukraine a Membership Action Plan.
And in Vilnius, by the will of the former fugitive president, the government of the day refused to sign the Association Agreement with the EU, and in fact, the European future of its people and country.
The consequences were terrible: the bloody Maidan in Kyiv, the annexation of Crimea, russia’s occupation of Donbas and russia’s full-scale invasion in the spring of 2022.
And the direct beneficiary of the lack of political will and courage was russia!
I have met many of you in recent months.
Many of you have travelled to war-torn Ukraine and I am grateful for that.
I have addressed you from different platforms and in different countries.
Today’s address comes on the 464th day of russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine.
But I will not speak today about russian crimes in Ukraine and the devastating consequences of this war.
The lives of children taken, the killings and torture of civilians, including during yesterday’s attack on Kyiv, speak volumes.
russia has killed 484 of our children.
484 in 464 days.
Despite this, I want to talk about optimism and faith.
I have grounds for optimism and faith, which are given to me by these 464 days of heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people and 464 days of exceptional unity of the free world.
In March and April, we stopped the russian invasion, held our capital Kyiv, which was predicted to fall in three days.
Then we forced the enemy to leave the north of Ukraine, getting out of Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy regions.
In May-June last year, 155mm artillery and modern multiple launch missile systems, better known as HIMARS, began to arrive in Ukraine.
In the autumn, we continued to liberate our territories and completely expelled the occupiers from the Kharkiv region.
Later, Kherson and the entire right-bank part of the region were liberated.
In late January, you decided to supply Ukraine with modern tanks.
Training of our soldiers began, the Tank Coalition was created, and eventually, in March, we saw the first Challengers and Leopards in Ukraine.
We will soon witness their combat use.
Right now, preparations are underway to form the Flight Coalition, with more and more countries joining.
I believe that after the decision to start training Ukrainian pilots on 4th generation combat aircraft, we will see important decisions on the transfer of F16s and other types of aircraft to Ukraine.
And when F-16s appear in our skies, it will be a turning point for the entire security in Europe and the world.
All these important decisions are evidence of a growing awareness of the irreversibility of Ukraine’s victory.
Yes, Ukraine will definitely win this war.
It will win thanks to the exceptional courage of its soldiers.
Thanks to the exceptional resilience of the entire Ukrainian society.
It will win thanks to the support of the free world, its citizens, democratic parliaments and governments.
Peace will return to Europe.
I believe that it will be a just and lasting peace.
You and your countries have already made a huge investment in defeating the aggressor.
But will this investment, without the final contribution, be successful in terms of the goals we set for ourselves?
Will it guarantee peace for Europe and the entire Euro-Atlantic area without one more important decision?
“Si vis pacem, para bellum” is not just an ancient saying.
I am convinced that only collective efforts based on a solid legal basis will prevent new aggressions and warn any dictators.
Only by uniting in an effective common security system that guarantees protection for each state and shares common democratic values can we ensure a future free from the arbitrary rule of individual leaders and their short-lived rule.
Ukraine has proven that it is part of a free and democratic world.
We defend not only our homes and the lives of our families, but also our shared values and beliefs.
Ukrainians are effectively resisting a force that until recently was considered one of the most powerful in the world.
Hardly anyone can deny Ukraine’s ability to make a significant contribution to the collective security system, to make it more resilient and effective.
NATO is an alliance designed to ensure the freedom and security of its member states.
NATO is an alliance based on the values of democracy, individual liberty, the rule of law and the peaceful settlement of disputes.
These values are ours, and that is why Ukraine aspires to become a full member of the Alliance.
82% of my compatriots support Ukraine’s membership in the Alliance.
And this percentage is only growing.
Yes, the war is ongoing, and a lot of effort is still needed to win and restore a just peace.
But building a new security architecture cannot be postponed.
It is time for fateful decisions.
I am convinced that the upcoming NATO Summit in Vilnius should provide the Alliance with a new strategic vision of its future, a new vision of the security architecture and security guarantees.
For Ukraine, the only effective guarantee of security can only be our country’s membership in NATO.
For NATO, this will mean membership of a country with powerful armed forces that have successful experience in conducting a full-scale war with an active army of a superior enemy.
For NATO, this is another like-minded Ally who is really fighting and standing up for common values.
On behalf of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, I would like to assure you that the Ukrainian Parliament will do everything to continue irreversible reforms and achieve the high standards of the Euro-Atlantic community.
I urge you to support our country on its Euro-Atlantic path.
Among the key decisions of the upcoming Summit, we would like to see an invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance or a clear algorithm for Ukraine’s movement towards NATO.
At the same time, we are aware that a consensus of all Allies is needed to make a decision on Ukraine.
I ask your parliaments to do their utmost to help build this consensus.
At the Vilnius Summit, Ukraine should receive much more than a repetition of declarations on the Open Door policy.
The Vilnius Summit should become an important stage in Ukraine’s preparation for joining the Alliance.
I am pleased that the NATO Parliamentary Assembly recognised Ukraine’s significant contribution to Euro-Atlantic security during its recent session in Luxembourg.
The Assembly emphasised Ukraine’s future in the Euro-Atlantic family and called on the NATO Summit in Vilnius to send a clear political signal and agree on the next important steps on Ukraine’s path to NATO membership.
My words of gratitude also go to the Lithuanian Seimas, which was the first to adopt a resolution in support of Ukraine’s membership in NATO, as well as to the distinguished parliaments of Poland, Estonia, Latvia and the Czech Republic.
Only yesterday, 21 foreign affairs committees of 19 Allied parliaments adopted a joint appeal to the Heads of State and Government of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to set a clear path for Ukraine’s accession to NATO at the upcoming Summit and to provide clear and strong security guarantees for Ukraine.
I call on your respected parliaments to reinforce these important political signals and adopt statements in support of Ukraine’s invitation to join NATO at the Vilnius Summit.
I am convinced that the decisions of your parliaments on the eve of Vilnius will allow us to make the only right and strong historical decisions in the Lithuanian capital!
“I am convinced that the current solution is only a partial one, aimed at guarding the heart. It must grow until the whole free world gets under one umbrella.
Do you know, friends, whose words these are?
I quoted the first Secretary General of the North Atlantic Alliance. General Hastings Ismay saw the future of the Alliance this way.
I believe that these words of General Ismay are the best “Long Term Support Plan for Ukraine”!
Thank you for your attention! Glory to Ukraine!