On June 16, 1990, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine passed the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine. On August 24, 1991, the Ukrainian Parliament solemnly proclaimed Ukraine's independence and the formation of the independent state of Ukraine.
On December 1, 1991, a referendum took place in Ukraine, involving 84.18 Percent of citizens, of which number 90,35 per cent seconded the Independence Act of August 24.
Many expected Ukraine to be short-lived. And many others expected it to follow in the footsteps of its post-Soviet neighbors and abandon democracy. Instead, 27 years after independence, Ukraine survives as a democratic state.
Its survival and consolidation as a democracy can be largely attributed to the fact that, from 1991 to 2014, Ukraine had the good fortune to exist in relatively stable geopolitical circumstances.
Russia, the only existential threat to Ukraine, was in disarray and until 2014, while far from being a good neighbor, had resisted direct intervention. Ukrainians—or, more precisely, Ukrainian civil society—consistently challenged government corruption and incompetence and promoted accountability, democracy, tolerance, and transparency.
Till 2014 we hoped to develop Ukraine in prosperity and peace with every country. But our neighbor, who had been claiming for years to be a “brother”, four and a half years ago had stabbed us in the back at first by occupying the Crimea. A few weeks later, Kremlin unleashed a hybrid war in the eastern part of Ukraine.
Hundreds of Ukrainian patriots have already sacrificed their lives fighting against pro-Russian terrorists and Russian troops in order to defend Ukraine, as well as peace and stability in Europe. Many hundreds of innocent civilians became victims of terrorists and Kremlin’s neo-imperialistic plans.
Russia does not give up its aggressive plans against Ukraine with the view to undermine European security. But Ukraine has become strong enough to contain Russian Aggression and to prevent new Russian offensives.
The situation in Donbas remains tense due to armed provocations and regular shellings, but it is controlled by the Joint Forces. The new format of the military operation in Donbas as well as ongoing reforms in the security and defence sector have built a solid basis for the deterrence of further Russian aggression in Donbas.
Ukraine remains committed to peaceful resolution of the conflict under the Minsk Agreements. The logic of the Agreements envisages immediate implementation of their initial security provisions – ceasefire and heavy weapons withdrawal.
But Russian troops are still in the territory of Donbas. Russia remains unwilling to stop fuelling conflict, considering escalation in Donbas as an important element of its destabilization efforts against Ukraine. Thus, our focus is concentrated on launching of peacekeeping operation – a key option to stop hostilities on the ground and to implement the Minsk Agreements.
Illegal occupation of Crimea remains in the focus of the international agenda. The UN GA resolution of December 19, 2017; decision of the CoE Committee of Ministers of May 3; resolution of the 2018 Annual session of the OSCE PA contributed to the persistent position of the international community that “Crimea is Ukraine”. It was an important message of the democratic world to the Russian aggressor that the illegal elections of the president of Russia on the illegally occupied Crimea were condemned and not recognized.
International solidarity with Ukraine has been maintained. New restrictive measures have been added by EU and US to the sanction packages in response to the Russian aggression. So far, sanctions remain the most effective tool to force Russia to bear responsibility for continued aggression against Ukraine.
We are fighting for universal values — freedom, democracy and territorial integrity. We are also fighting for the global peace.
The future is being made now. The world should decide what it will sow today in order to reap it tomorrow. Russia should do the same. War never brings prosperity; only peace and mutual support do.
Under these difficult conditions for Ukraine celebrating Independence Day takes on a new meaning.