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Ukrainian forum in Washington: the battle for freedom continues


Photo Credit: Vadym Guliuk

Nearly 10,000 people have been killed in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions since 2014, including more than 2,700 military personnel. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko provided these numbers on March 30 during his address to the “Ukraine's Battle for Freedom Continues” forum held at the US Capitol Building in Washington. 

The forum’s goals were to raise awareness about the actual losses caused by the war in Ukraine and to rally all possible support from the US and the international community to help deal with the war’s growing humanitarian, social and economic costs.

The forum was attended by hundreds of people who play an important role in developing US policies vis-à-vis the situation in Ukraine. They included representatives of international organizations, foundations and missions, diplomats, ambassadors, representatives of US governmental and non-governmental organizations and the President of Ukraine. The forum was also attended by Dr. Ulana Suprun in her dual role as director of the Ukrainian World Congress' humanitarian initiatives and director of “Patriot Defence.” 

The forum was organized by the US-Ukraine Foundation, which has been working on the development of democracy, free market and strengthening human rights in Ukraine since 1991. The foundation is able to influence the development of US policies vis-à-vis Ukraine through its activities with government, business, media, not-for-profit and religious organizations. Organizing this forum is part of that process.

“In September of 2015, we held our first Forum and this year we once again gathered people from all of the United States to acknowledge the growing human and economic cost of Ukraine's continuing battle for freedom,” Nadia McConnell, president and one of the founders of the US-Ukraine Foundation told “Patriot Defence.”

“Significantly, since our last forum in September 2015 we added an additional goal to our mission: To remind the international community that sanctions should relate not only to Minsk II but also to the return of Crimea,” added McConnell.

In a wider context, the forum included discussions of failed diplomatic missions from Budapest to Minsk and infuriating violations of human rights: Russia continues to illegally detain Nadiya Savchenko and at least another 31 political prisoners and the increasing persecution of Crimean Tatars, more than 200 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians have been killed and hundreds more have been injured since the beginning of Minsk 2.

The forum also addressed the greatest losses caused by the war and the ways to overcome them. 

In her address, Dr. Ulana Suprun said that aid to Ukraine should be based on proven facts and objective situational assessments: “We should always look at what we are doing to see if we are doing the right thing. We need to be sober and scientific about it, and re-evaluate as time goes on.”

Doctor Suprun also presented the humanitarian initiatives of the Ukrainian World Congress in Ukraine and the work by “Patriot Defence”, including the problems caused by the war, their resolution and the results that have been attained.

“We reviewed what we’ve been doing in the ATO with training and saw the need for change. We found that lives are being saved immediately following injury, but soldiers are dying later. So we changed our approach. I think we should all be doing this kind of self-evaluation and re-evaluate our programs to ensure we are doing right things,” added Dr. Suprun.

Today, Ukrainians are forced to wage battle on two fronts. On one side is Russia’s constant aggression with political and economic levers and violation of international law. On the other side, there is the enemy within which is hampering Ukraine’s progress on the path to establishing democratic values.

“Ukraine continues to have strong bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as in certain parts of the President's Administration. However, disappointment about the pace of reforms threatens this support,” stressed McConnell.

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