United with Ukraine

Op-Ed by Ambassador Jeffry L. Flake
February 18, 2022

The world is watching Russia’s pattern of unprovoked and continued aggression toward Ukraine. Russia’s actions are a threat not only to Ukraine, but to Europe, to us here in Turkey, and to the international rules-based order. The United States stands with our allies and partners to support European unity, strengthen our transatlantic relationship, and reinforce democratic states and institutions.

The Real Threat

In 2014, after millions of Ukrainians protested for a democratic future, Russia manufactured a crisis, invaded and occupied Ukraine’s territory in Crimea, and orchestrated a war in eastern Ukraine with Russian personnel and with armed groups it leads, trains, supplies, and finances. This war has claimed more than 14,000 Ukrainian lives. Russia continues to occupy parts of both Georgia and Ukraine today and has failed to honor its commitment to withdraw forces from Moldova.

Support for Ukraine

The United States and Turkey are committed to supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Along with our allies and partners, we will assist Ukraine in its efforts to defend itself against further Russian aggression. We will continue to support Ukraine’s efforts to advance democratic and anti-corruption reforms and restore and secure its internationally recognized borders. We welcome Turkey’s commitment to and efforts towards a diplomatic resolution to this crisis, and its endorsement of the NATO response.

Cooperation with Turkey More Important than Ever

On the eve of Turkey’s 70th anniversary as a NATO partner, our cooperation to counter shared threats is more important than ever. The United States and Turkey will always stand together as NATO allies, and we continue to pursue dialogue and diplomacy to address some of the world’s most intractable problems. Moreover, we will also continue to grow and improve our trade and energy relations, helping us both economically. Over the past year, the United States and Turkey have worked to forge a stronger bilateral trade relationship, including increasing Turkish exports to the United States, which grew 45% in 2021. In 2022 we will continue to foster closer collaboration among Turkish and U.S. businesses, looking at joint
projects and initiatives not just in Tukey and the United States, but also across the Eurasia region. Collaboration on green energy technology will help countries around the region to achieve energy independence.

European and U.S. Interests Are at Stake

There is a lot at stake here. We are talking about the future of Ukraine, true, but also about the principles that have made the world safer and more stable for decades.

We are deeply invested in what is happening in Ukraine because we respect these principles, which underpin international peace and security: that the borders and territorial integrity of a state cannot be changed by force and that it is the right of countries to make decisions for themselves and to determine their own future. All members of the international community should face costs if they don’t live up to the solemn obligations that they undertake.

To allow Russia to violate those principles with impunity would send a message to others around the world that these principles are expendable.

Call to Action

The United States will continue building the international coalition of partners in Europe and elsewhere who see this threat with clear eyes. Our partners in Turkey are critical to this effort. Our shared Transatlantic unity and resolve is the most effective tool we must counter Russian aggression. We are committed to diplomacy, and we made clear that the diplomatic path provides the only durable solution for everyone.

However, if Russia chooses another path and further invades Ukraine, we are ready and aligned with our partners and allies to impose massive consequences on Russia, as recently confirmed by the G7, the EU, and NATO. We would also shore up the defenses of Ukraine and NATO as necessary, the very thing Russia claims not to want.

Russia’s threat to Ukraine is a threat to democratic values everywhere. Americans and Turks are standing together with Ukraine to ensure a free and stable Europe and defend the principles of democracy and self-determination.

Ambassador Jeffry L. Flake