Statement by SG Thomas E. Garrett on the situation in Ukraine

In 2000, 106 nations adopted the founding document of the Community of Democracies, the Warsaw Declaration, which sets the basic values for a state to flourish as a democracy. Two of those adopting countries, the Russian Federation and Ukraine – neighbors – soon diverged in their respective commitment to the Declaration.

Along an often-difficult path, with setbacks and challenges, Ukraine sought to respect and uphold Warsaw Declaration principles, always guided by its people’s aspiration for a homeland and a democratic nation. Today, Ukrainians elect their leaders, speak against corruption and demand accountability from those in power.

Many in the Russian Federation worked for a similar trajectory, but their hopes for democracy were dashed mercilessly, as Vladimir Putin’s security services poisoned dissenters, silenced media, and blatantly stole elections. Today, Russians (and those Ukrainians and Tatars trapped in the occupied areas of their nation) are among the least-free people on earth.

After suppressing freedom and human rights in Russia, invading Georgia, and following eight years of Moscow’s bloodshed waged against Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has now “recognized” as independent states those areas in the eastern region of Ukraine he seized in 2014. This act constitutes a blatant violation of the United Nations Charter and other international law, the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and the Minsk agreements.

On 22 February 2022, democracies worldwide have as stark a choice as is likely ever to be presented. The time for nuance is long past. The time to stand unequivocally with Ukraine and against Vladimir Putin is now.

 The fundamental right of self-determination for the Ukrainian people, enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, by virtue of which they are free to determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development is challenged today in an unprecedented scale since the Second World War.