NATO PA President addresses Verkhovna Rada, meets with President Zelenskyy, Chairman Stefanchuk to reaffirm determined support for Ukraine

25 November 2023

The President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA), Michal Szczerba (Poland), travelled to Kyiv on 24-25 November to participate in the official commemorations of the 90th anniversary of the Holodomor alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Ruslan Stefanchuk and other European Speakers of Parliament. Mr Szczerba was accompanied by the Co-Chair of the Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council, Audronius Azubalis (Lithuania). 

In the meetings with President Zelenskyy, Chairman Stefanchuk and Defence Minister Rustem Umerov, he reaffirmed the Assembly’s determined support for Ukraine and its NATO membership path. “There are two hundred and twenty-seven days to the NATO Summit in Washington. We must do everything we can in this time [...] and redouble our efforts to advocate for Ukraine”, he emphasised. 

Addressing the Verkhovna Rada, Mr Szczerba stressed the profound significance of the Holodomor – a mass famine imposed by the Soviet regime which killed millions of Ukrainians in 1932-1933: “My country, Poland, was among the first to recognise the Holodomor as genocide. Since then, many have joined, and I hope more will. [...] Because history matters. Truth matters. And justice matters!”

“What Stalin was trying to do to Ukrainians, and failed, today Putin is trying again – we cannot allow him to succeed”, Mr Szczerba continued, adding: “as the President of NATO PA, I want to state clearly: If we don’t mobilise enough resources to help Ukraine defeat the aggressor today – NATO members will pay a much higher price tomorrow. [...] This year we should have learned the lessons, the costs of delivering too little, too late.” The NATO PA President thus urged Allied governments and parliaments “to increase and speed up the military assistance.” 

Mr Szczerba also stressed that “what Putin is most afraid of [is] Ukrainian success as a democracy. We have to work together to keep democracy strong.” 

Mr Szczerba called for Russia to be held accountable for all of its crimes. “With its attacks on critical infrastructure, on the environment, on nuclear facilities, the Russian state, under the current regime, is a terrorist one. And by targeting grain infrastructure, this Russian regime, like the Soviet regime, is using hunger as a weapon”, Mr Szczerba stressed. 

“Russia’s crimes cannot go unpunished”, he concluded. “From day one, we have supported the creation of a special tribunal to prosecute Russia’s crime of aggression. We denounce all of Russia’s war crimes, crimes against humanity [..] and acts of genocide – including the horrific deportation of Ukrainian children.” 

Just a few hours before the start of the Holodomor commemorations, Russia conducted its largest drone attack in Kyiv and across Ukraine since the start of its aggression.

During their two-day visit to Ukraine, Mr Szczerba and Mr Azubalis also discussed Ukraine’s assistance needs and NATO membership path with First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Oleksandr Korniyenko, with members of the Ukrainian delegation to the NATO PA, Yehor Cherniev and Roman Hryshchuk and with MPs Oleksandra Ustinova, Serhiy Soboliev and Rostyslav Pavlenko. They also took stock of Ukraine’s reform progress with independent experts, including Dr Marcin Walecki, Senior Resident Country Director for the National Democratic Institute (NDI) in Ukraine and Marcin Buzanski, Senior Fellow at the Casimir Pulaski Foundation. 

Photos ©Verkhovna Rada

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