Statement by Vice President Joe Biden on Ukraine’s Independence Day
Today, I join with Ukrainians and Ukrainian-Americans in celebrating the 29th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence, even as this holiday serves as a bittersweet reminder of the plight of Ukrainians living under illegal Russian occupation in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
As a Senator and as Vice President, I strongly supported Ukraine’s ongoing quest to become a modern, democratic European state, in which all citizens can live in peace and prosperity. I saw first-hand the progress Ukraine has made over the course of my six visits to Ukraine as Vice President, and I know from the conversations I had with Ukrainian leaders and average citizens the difficulties of these last six years, as Ukraine has been fighting a two-front war, against Russia in the east and for rule of law at home.
Following the Revolution of Dignity, the Obama-Biden Administration was proud to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s invasion. We applied costly sanctions to punish Moscow for its aggression, and rallied our allies to ensure that Ukraine received the financial, political, and military support it needed to withstand Russian coercion. We supported the reforms Ukrainians so desperately wanted and pressed Ukraine’s leaders to fight corruption because a stable, independent, democratic, and prosperous Ukraine is also good for the United States.
In contrast, President Trump refuses to confront Vladimir Putin over Russia’s continuing assault against Ukraine, even insinuating on several occasions that Crimea is rightfully Russian territory. He withheld vital military assistance in an effort to extort Ukrainian President Zelensky into interfering in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. He sidelined professional diplomats in the creation of Ukraine policy, and he has repeatedly put his personal interests over those of the United States.
As President, I will make it clear to the Kremlin that it must end its aggression toward and occupation of Ukraine. A Biden-Harris administration will ensure that Ukraine gets the economic and military support that it needs, including lethal weapons, while urging Ukraine to pursue the essential reforms that are vital to its success. Together, we will work toward the celebration of Ukraine’s independence day as a peaceful, whole, sovereign, democratic, and prosperous country.