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Less than a week after the fifth meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group in Ramstein led to substantial, new pledges for military assistance, over 90 lawmakers from 21 NATO nations and Ukraine signed up for an expanded, remote Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council (UNIC) meeting.
“Since 24 February, our Assembly has stood firmly by our Ukrainian friends’ side,” President Gerry E. Connolly (United States) stressed in his opening remarks.
“We have unreservedly condemned Russia’s unprovoked, brutal, unjustified, criminal war. We have called for and supported crippling sanctions. And we have kept in close touch with our Ukrainian partners to secure a constant flow of military equipment and humanitarian assistance,” he noted. “This assistance is making the difference on the ground.”
Major General Oleksandr Kyrylenko, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, briefed the members on the significant Ukrainian advances on the Southern and Northeastern fronts and Ukraine’s needs for military support.
The Ukrainian armed forces were gaining ground “thanks to Ukraine’s own remarkable resolve and skill […], but our Ukrainian friends need our ongoing, determined and united support to prevail,” President Connolly noted. “This Assembly will continue to play its full part in mobilizing support.”
Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Yevhen Perebyinis addressed ways Kyiv’s partners should increase political and economic pressure on Russia, including through national, EU and NATO efforts.
Members and the Ukrainian officials made clear that Russia must be held accountable under international law, international human rights law and international criminal law. The NATO PA has called for a special ad hoc international criminal tribunal to investigate and prosecute the crime of aggression against Ukraine and bringing the perpetrators to justice (see the declaration Standing with Ukraine, adopted at the 2022 Spring Session in Vilnius).
UNIC Co-Chair Michal Szczerba (Poland) stressed the need for continued Allied unity, resolve and support for Ukraine: “We absolutely must keep up the momentum. Stay united. Stay resolute. The coming months will be difficult. But they will be decisive. The way we […] respond could determine not just Ukraine’s fate, but also shape the future world order.”
Oleksandr Korniyenko, First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada and UNIC CO-Chair, echoed this sentiment: “We, Ukraine – with you – have one simple task: We have to show there is no fatigue of Ukraine and do everything so that Russia gets the fatigue, gets tired.”
“We will continue to fight,” said Yehor Cherniev, head of Ukraine’s NATO PA delegation. “But you need to help us continue our fight. No doubt that Russia will try to blackmail the world with the food crisis [and the] energy crisis. We have to be united against this.”
“As we get closer to the winter, Russia will step up its efforts to divide us, and it will seek to exploit existing vulnerabilities. Our resolve and the resilience of our people will be tested, as our nations prepare for potential energy shortages unseen since World War II and its aftermath,” President Connolly stressed. “Our role as parliamentarians will be fundamental to explain to our people why we must stay the course while addressing the legitimate concerns of our fellow citizens.”
Crucially, “we must remain united in our efforts and resolute in the defense of our values,” President Connolly echoed. “With its assault against Ukraine, Russia seeks to redefine the international rules-based order and crush the democratic aspirations of free nations.”
Adopted in June, NATO’s new Strategic Concept underlines that “Authoritarian actors challenge our interests, values and democratic way of life” and has placed shared democratic values at the heart of NATO’s response to counter this challenge and others.
“NATO must now take the next step and operationalize the commitment by establishing a Democratic Resilience Center at NATO Headquarters itself”, a priority proposal from the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, which enjoys near-unanimous support among Allied governments.
Since 2003, UNIC has provided an essential forum for members of parliament from the Alliance and from Ukraine to exchange on all aspects of Ukraine’s cooperation with NATO. Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion, the NATO PA has stepped up its focus on Ukraine through UNIC and across all Assembly bodies and played its full part in mobilizing support for Ukraine.
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