“Greetings to the peoples of the indomitable country!” These are the words that every Ukrainian has been hearing daily since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation into the territory of our sovereign state.
Despite some disbelief of the Ukrainian ability to defend itself effectively at the beginning of the war, Ukraine and its people have already been fighting against Russian bloody invaders for 100 days, for our freedom, identity and right to exist, showing unprecedented courage and resistance.
The Greek people, like no other, are aware of the price the struggle for independence costs. Today, Ukrainians are fighting for their freedom and independence, as Russia denies our people’s right to exist. Isn’t that what the Greeks fought for and defended 200 years ago? The Greek people defended their national identity, freedom, democracy, human dignity, respect for each other and a free life.
Democracy was born in Greece, but it is Ukrainians who today defend these values at the cost of their own lives. Everything that was described by Greek philosophers and later became a symbol of modern, free and democratic Europe. But today all of this is under attack again, all of this now needs to be defended again. In our independent and democratic country in Europe.
It is our common duty to stop all of this in Ukraine, because tyranny and aggression know no borders. And if someone thinks that Russian President Vladimir Putin will stop in Ukraine, they are clearly wrong. The Kremlin regime is not threatened by Ukraine, but by democracy and its values, which have never existed in Russia. These are the values that our peoples have fought for, the values that seem to be taken for granted today, the values that are incorporated into international documents, conventions and statutes.
Moreover, Russia’s war against Ukraine has challenged the international security system and its architecture since the Second World War. Not only peace in Europe but the whole world is under attack. Without the effective work of international organizations, without respect for international law, without a rule-based international order, the world in its political and security dimension has no chance for peace and a bright future.
What is the price of this peace and security today? Human life, thousands of human lives. Russian soldiers commit war crimes and atrocities in our country by destroying infrastructure, killing and raping civilians, looting our houses. Russian troops are acting on orders to destroy everything that has even little bit of Ukrainian origin, but they can’t destroy our will for independence and freedom.
A few days ago Russia shelled railway infrastructure in the Lviv region with four cruise missiles, launched from the Black Sea. On May 30, 2022, as a result of the shelling of the city of Sviatohirsk, the Holy Mountains Lavra of the Holy Dormition was destroyed, two monks at this monastery and a nun were killed, and three monks were wounded.
Ukrainians are fighting for their freedom and independence, as Russia denies our people’s right to exist. Isn’t that what the Greeks fought for and defended 200 years ago?
Every day, Russia shells civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, churches and kindergartens, claiming that only military infrastructure is hit. But the cynicism of the Russian government costs Ukraine the lives of at least two children a day, while more than 240 have already been killed.
For every crime there is also a person who committed it – the one who raped a young woman, who killed a man riding a bicycle, who fusilladed a queue of people waiting for bread, who shot at humanitarian convoys, who shelled hospitals and shelters – such people have names and must answer for their crimes in court. Peace cannot be achieved without justice.
Thus we must ensure the right to truth, the right to justice and the right to an effective remedy for victims and their relatives.
However, after 100 days of severe resistance, Ukrainians are not giving up, because we are fighting for our future, our country and our independence. We cannot deny that war changed not only Ukraine and Ukrainians, but the whole civilized world. Hundreds of thousands people around the whole world united to support Ukraine and help Ukrainians.
We are members of one big European family, and we are grateful to Greece for supporting Ukraine on its path to the EU membership. Ukraine is grateful to Greece for protecting and taking care of the Ukrainian people who have found shelter in Greece. We feel the support of your government and the ordinary Greek people. I am confident that together we will be able to overcome everything. To expel the aggressor, driven by revisionism and dreams of the supremacy of imperialism, from our country. We want a different future for our children.
I know that we uphold and defend the same values: freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. I believe that we will rebuild Mariupol together very soon, breathe new life into Ukrainian cities, say “thank you” to every person who sheltered Ukrainians who escaped the war. And, most importantly, let us return peaceful life and restore peace not only to Ukraine, but the whole of Europe.
Because together we can do everything!
Sergii Shutenko is Ukraine’s ambassador to Greece.