by NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană at ceremony marking one year of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine

  • 24 Feb. 2023 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 24 Feb. 2023 10:13

(As delivered)

Dear friends and colleagues.

The images on display here are hard to look at. But they must be seen. We must not look away.
They show a nation under attack. Barbed wire, bullets, and burned-out military equipment. Homes, schools, and hospitals destroyed. Childhoods and innocence stolen. Civilians lying dead in the street.

They are a reminder, if one was needed, of Putin’s brutality. Of his utter disregard for human life. Of his determination to destroy Ukraine and overturn the international rules-based order.

If Putin wins in Ukraine, he and others like him, would learn a terrifying lesson. That aggression works. That brutality works. That war works. We cannot let that happen.

NATO will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. We have been Ukraine’s partner since it first gained independence, over thirty years ago. We stepped up our support when Putin illegally annexed Crimea, training and equipping tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers. And the world now knows just what a formidable fighting force Ukraine’s military is.

And since Putin ordered his tanks to cross Ukraine’s border a year ago, NATO Allies have provided unprecedented support, with around $120 billion of financial, humanitarian and military support. Including tanks, advanced air defence systems, munitions and other military equipment.
While the United States is the largest single contributor, European NATO Allies and Canada have provided over half of the overall assistance.

Europeans have also overwhelmingly welcomed refugees from Ukraine, applied unprecedented sanctions, and decoupled from Russian gas and Russian oil, and also with economic and social costs for our own populations.

This shows how much we can achieve when Europe and North America stand together. Ours is an Alliance united in its support for Ukraine.

The images – provided by the Romanian News Agency "AGERPRES" - on display here, amount to just one tiny part of the vast amount of evidence being collected against Russia in Ukraine. This is a crime against humanity. Murder, rape, torture, forced deportation, the abduction and forced adoption of children – in an unimaginable way.

Allied experts are helping Ukraine to document and evidence the horrific crimes committed. The Netherlands will establish a special investigation in The Hague. Those responsible must be held to account. There can be no impunity for these atrocities.

But the images in this exhibition also show something else – they show a nation defiant. Standing tall. Brave armed forces putting their lives on the line. A proud people who will not be defeated. The flame of freedom will not be snuffed out in Ukraine.

Ukraine can count on NATO. We will be there for you for as long as it takes. To win the war, to rebuild, and to take your rightful place at the heart of the European family of nations.

Ambassador Galibarenko, dear Natalia, now you have the floor.