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Keynote Speech of Ambassador of Ukraine to USA Oksana Markarova at Ceremony Honoring President Zelensky and all Ukraine people with the World Leader for Peace and Security Award

April 29, 2022

Dear Governor Dukakis, dear President Levits, dear Speaker Norlen, and all the distinguished guests. I’m so honored and happy to be here today, and to address to the Boston Global Forum. For 65 days, you see how Ukraine is defending itself from a brutal enemy. For 65 days Ukraine fights for our houses, for our homes, for our people, for our lands, but also for freedom and democracy. We fight for their rights to be who we are, to live peacefully in our country, and to decide how we want to live in our country.

For 65 days, we have seen unbelievable destruction of our country. We have seen ceaseless attacks from the sky, from east, north, and from south. We have seen some of the cities like Mariupol and Kharkiv and Tserkva destroyed to the ground. We have seen attacks on civilian orchards and hospitals and schools. We have seen destruction of universities which were there, some of them for more than 200 years, and even the World War II did not destroy them. We experience unimaginable losses. More than 4.5 million people had to flee Ukraine, and many are women and children, to save their lives. More than 7 million people are internally displaced in Ukraine. More than 10 million people, as we speak today, live under brutal conditions under occupation, without water, without food, without the basic needs for medical supplies.

But also for the 65 days, we have shown to the world an example of bravery, starting with our unbelievably great president, Volodymyr Zelensky, not only when this phase of the war started, and I want to remind you that this war is in Ukraine for the past eight years. Russia attacked us in 2014. But during the first 65 days, as soon as Russia started its full-fledged attack and invasion in this phase of the war, President Zelenskyy came out, and he said, “The president is here. I’m here, and stay in Kyiv. We will not surrender. We will not give up. We will defend what we love and what we believe in. And this is what we are doing. And this is the whole nation fighting: Our brave armed forces, our National Guard, our rescuers. But every Ukrainian center is doing what our president has said we would do, and we will not give up. Ukrainians love [to] build things. We love [to] grow wheat. We love to initiate startups. But today we all had to postpone what we were doing in our ordinary lives, and we all have to defend our country. And we’re very grateful to all of our strategic friends and allies and especially to the United States for all the support, with weapon, with sanctions, with financial and energy support to Ukraine. Because this fight is so much more than you think. This fight is about the global situation. This fight is about whether Europe and in general the democratic world can feel safe, whether you can make the civilisational choice to be democratic, to be free, to be sovereign and not be attacked by the brutal enemy.

On behalf of my president and all Ukrainians, firstly, great thank you. And our deepest gratitude for this act of support and for the World Leaders Award for Peace and Security. I agree with you that nobody deserves it better than our president, who has shown an outstanding example of leadership under the dire circumstances. I would like to also thank you for this event and for the efforts that all of your professors and all of the distinguished guests have taken in order to help us to already brainstorm and say, how are we going to deal with things? Because for us, the number one goal, of course, is to win in this war. And as we are certain not to surrender, we are certain that with the help of all of our friends and allies, we will win this war, and peace will return to Ukraine, and then we will build back Ukraine better. We will build a new innovative Ukraine 2022.0., which will be the most efficient, the most democratic, the most innovative. And we would be able to see all of our friends and allies to participate in this new endeavor. So with that, let me again thank you for this award. Thank you for inviting me to speak at the beginning of this conference. I wish you very fruitful discussions today. And we need all the prayers and all the weapons that anyone can provide to us and present all of us, democratic people. People who love freedom and who are ready to fight for it will win.

Thank you very much, and you all have a good day.