Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine and the critical role and contribution that Poland plays in support of Ukraine and for Allied security were at the heart of a visit by Allied parliamentarians to Rzeszow, Poland on 16-18 May at the invitation of the Polish Parliament. The delegation of 13 members of parliament from 10 Allied countries, led by Michal Szczerba (Poland), Co-Chairperson of the Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council (UNIC) also met with their counterparts of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in Lviv for the first in-person meeting of UNIC since the start of the war. Allied parliamentarians conveyed their ongoing and unwavering support for and solidarity with Ukraine.
“Every day, Ukraine fights for the values that are fundamental to all democratic, civilised and peaceful nations of this world”, stressed Mr Szczerba. “And so, as democratic nations, we must continue to stand by Ukraine.
Ukrainian parliamentarians expressed their gratitude for the support provided by individual Allies, including the commitments made at the Ukraine Defence Consultative Group meeting in Ramstein in April. “It is important to consolidate this unity and support”, Oleksandr Korniyenko, the Ukrainian Co-Chair of UNIC, stressed. “Russia is trying to destroy Ukraine and Ukrainians”, but while it has more forces and equipment, “we have better equipment, leadership and resolve”, Mr Korniyenko stressed.
“Russia’s isolation and sanctions need to last”, Yehor Cherniev, Head of the Ukrainian Delegation to the NATO PA, urged his colleagues. He stressed in particular the importance of combatting Russian disinformation, including through sanctions against propagandists and individuals at all levels involved in state media in order to “destroy the propaganda machine from the inside”.
As Mr Cherniev noted that the war currently cost Ukraine $5bn a month, Mr Szczerba called for a Marshall Plan for Ukraine to address the country’s long-term needs, stressing that Allied parliaments stood ready to support the Verkhovna Rada.
In Lviv, Allied and Ukrainian parliamentarians also discussed ongoing humanitarian needs during a visit to a reception centre for internally displaced people (IDPs). The number of IDPs in the Lviv region is estimated at some 400,000, the delegation heard.
In Rzeszow, legislators met with Mayor Konrad Fijolek, leading Polish experts and officers of the United States Army’s 82nd airborne division to discuss Russia’s war in Ukraine and its implications for NATO, Poland’s remarkable support for Ukraine and its critical role for Allied security.
In addition to UNIC members, the NATO PA delegation included Assembly Vice-President Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam (France) and Chair of the Sub-Committee on NATO Partnerships Marcos Perestrello de Vasconcellos (Portugal).
Since 2003, UNIC has provided an essential forum for members of parliament from the Alliance and from Ukraine to exchange on the broad range of issues of common concern and interest. Through UNIC, Allied parliamentarians have also supported the development of parliamentary capacity and oversight in the Verkhovna Rada.
The NATO PA has stepped up its focus on and support to Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s invasion.
The visit comes a week ahead of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s spring session, which was due to be held in Kyiv and has been relocated to Vilnius, Lithuania. The session will feature high-level speakers from Lithuania, Ukraine as well as NATO and deliver another strong message of solidarity and support for Ukraine. In Vilnius, the Assembly is due to consider a draft declaration presented by Mr Szczerba on Standing with Ukraine.