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Putin chose war. We remain united with Ukraine

By US Ambassador to Kuwait Alina L Romanowski

This is a dangerous moment for the world. By launching his unlawful, unprovoked, and brutal war in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has committed an assault on the principles that uphold global peace and security. This isn’t the first time, of course, that Putin decided his country could invade another with impunity. Moscow’s further invasion of Ukraine is part of a pattern of the Kremlin’s destructive behavior: Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, occupied Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine in 2014, and has stationed troops in Moldova without host government consent for decades.

Putin’s war in Ukraine evokes painful memories among Kuwaitis who lived through Saddam’s brutal invasion of their country in 1990, as well as among the Americans who served during the liberation. Like Saddam, the Russian President denied the history and independence of his neighbor to justify an unprovoked military incursion with the goal of subverting that neighboring state’s sovereignty to his own complete control. Just as the United States stood with Kuwait then, we stand behind Ukraine and its people today, to uphold Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of the Kremlin’s flagrant violation of international law.

In Ukraine, Putin has embarked on a campaign of terror as he did in Syria, with airstrikes indiscriminately destroying hospitals and critical civilian infrastructure. On March 10 in Ukraine, Russian forces bombed a maternity and children’s hospital, killing three civilians including a child. As in Syria, Russian forces escalated attacks to include humanitarian convoys and civilians, while also relying on disinformation campaigns to cover their tracks. The world is watching this conflict closely, and when Russian forces commit atrocities, we will pursue all international mechanisms to bring all those responsible to account.

The UN High Commission for Refugees reports that more than six million Ukrainians have been internally displaced or forced to flee Ukraine. As leaders in the humanitarian field, Kuwaitis know well the long-term toll exacted by long-term displacements of millions of civilians as in Syria and Yemen. Just as nations were poised to recuperate from the economic devastation of COVID-19, Putin’s war of choice is driving up inflation and roiling global markets. Dozens of major US and global companies have shuttered their offices in Russia, in revulsion at Putin’s invasion.

Putin’s aggression will cost Russia profoundly – economically, socially, and strategically. Countless Russians, including prominent activists, journalists, artists, athletes, and average citizens have been targeted by the Kremlin for their anti-war sentiments, including nearly 15,000 arrested in peaceful demonstrations. President Biden’s sweeping financial sanctions, coupled with an American ban on Russian energy imports, are the severest measures of their kind against a major economic power. And they’re working: one Russian ruble is now worth less than one American penny or two Kuwaiti fils.

The next few days, weeks, and months will be incredibly difficult for the people of Ukraine; together with our Allies and partners across the globe, the United States will continue to support them as they defend their country. We are grateful to Kuwait, one of our closest allies in the region, for co-sponsoring a UN Security Council resolution denouncing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the first Arab country on a list of more than 80 nations to do so. And more recently, as an act of Kuwaiti generosity, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah issued a directive announcing $2 million in aid to Ukrainian refugees.

When the history of this era is written, it will show that Putin’s choice to launch an unprovoked, unjust, and premeditated attack left peace-loving nations around the world more unified and Russia exponentially weaker and more isolated. Liberty, self-determination, and human dignity are forces far more powerful than fear and oppression, as countless citizens inside Russia are attesting through their acts of defiance and protest against the Kremlin’s war. In the contest between liberty and autocracy, between sovereignty and subjugation, make no mistake: Freedom will prevail.

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