Statement by the UNIC Rapporteur Yehor CHERNIEV (Ukraine), Head of the Ukrainian delegation to the NATO PA, and Audronius AZUBALIS (Lithuania), UNIC Co-chair

26 June 2024

Kyiv, June 2024

We met today in Kyiv to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between Allied and Ukrainian lawmakers in the face of the criminal and devastating war unleashed by the terrorist Russian regime. We stand together in support of a free, democratic and sovereign Ukraine. 

Our resolve to push back against Russia’s aggression is unwavering. Ukraine is paying an immeasurable price for warding off imperial, revanchist Russia, which NATO considers the most significant and direct threat to Allies’ security, and for defending our shared democratic values and the rules-based international order. 

Human lives have no value to the Kremlin, as they continue to recklessly send scores of their soldiers to a deadly front and fire barrages of missiles and drones onto Ukrainian towns and villages. 

As Declaration 489 adopted by the Assembly at its Spring Session in Sofia, Bulgaria, in May 2024 makes clear, Putin must be stopped in Ukraine. Otherwise, we run the risk of a broader war in Europe. Our strategic goal must be Ukraine’s victory and Russia’s defeat, and we need a common, clear and ambitious strategy to achieve it. 

To change the dynamics in today’s grinding, debilitating war of attrition, self-imposed red lines need to be removed, and we need to urgently and significantly speed up and step up support to Ukraine.

In this regard, we welcome wholeheartedly the recent aid packages announced by numerous Allies, including the significant US supplemental bill, as well as the statements by Allied governments, the NATO Secretary General and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA) that Ukraine should have the right to use Western artillery and rocket systems against legitimate targets on the Russian territory. These decisions will help save countless Ukrainian lives as well as push back against Russia’s aggression. 

We also strongly support the position of several Allied leaders that preserving strategic ambiguity is essential.
Russia’s defence industry is working 24/7 to replace tanks, missiles, artillery shells and other vital capabilities, while also receiving supplies from fellow totalitarian regimes in North Korea and Iran. Allies must continue to bolster Ukraine’s own capabilities by speeding up and increasing the supplies of munitions, air and missile defence systems, especially Patriots, long-range precision-guided  weapons, transport and fighting vehicles as well as F-16 aircraft. 

To do this, Allies should urgently step up investments in their defence industries as well as fostering investments in Ukraine’s defence industrial capacity and joint ventures to produce weapons, drones and munitions with Ukrainian partners. They should also work with Allied defence industries and with like-minded partners to prioritise aid to Ukraine over orders from other third countries.

The long-term support for Ukraine must be better institutionalised, more predictable and shielded from political uncertainties. In this context, we welcome the signing of long-term bilateral security agreements between Ukraine and its Euro-Atlantic partners and encourage more Allies to sign similar agreements. We also welcome the agreement reached by Allied Defence Ministers to set up a NATO Security Assistance and Training for Ukraine to increase NATO’s role in the coordination of security assistance and training. This must now be backed by a solid multiyear financial pledge. 

We look forward to the adoption of these measures at NATO’s Washington Summit next month. We also call on Allied leaders to go beyond the Vilnius Summit language on Ukraine’s membership in NATO. The Alliance must send a clear signal that Ukraine is advancing on its path to become the 33rd member of the Alliance and that this path to NATO membership is irreversible. 

NATO’s 75th anniversary is not only about celebrating the past. The NATO Summit in Washington must outline strategic, visionary guidelines to meet the challenges posed by aggressive authoritarian and totalitarian regimes.

We are personally strongly convinced that the invitation for Ukraine to join NATO, at the Washington Summit, would be a visionary step, demonstrating NATO's principles, strength, unity and determination. This would be a clear sign to the democratic world as well as to the axis of evil.

At the same time, we understand that issuing an invitation would not result in immediate accession. Nevertheless, as parliamentarians, we must redouble efforts to forge the Alliance-wide consensus that Ukraine must achieve full membership as soon as possible.

We also support the adoption of an interoperability roadmap for Ukraine’s transition to full interoperability with NATO, the prompt establishment of the Joint Analysis, Training and Education Centre in Bydgoszcz, Poland, and the ongoing strengthening of the NATO Representation to Ukraine (NRU). 
The NATO-Ukraine Council (NUC) should be used to the fullest extent and expanded whenever needed. We believe that engagements between the NUC and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly on the parliamentary dimension of the NATO-Ukraine relationship should be sought.

Despite the ongoing war, the Verkhovna Rada and other State institutions are delivering on Ukraine’s reform commitments for NATO and EU integration. The first UNIC report, presented by Rapporteur Yehor Cherniev, outlines Ukraine’s progress in areas ranging from defence procurement to anticorruption and national minority rights.

The NATO PA stands ready to support Ukrainian reforms, including through the Assembly’s special fund, which has been significantly increased in 2024, and by delivering on the series of practical measures agreed in 2023, which are designed to fortify our partnership with the Verkhovna Rada, including through stepped-up cooperation with the NRU.

We reiterate the Assembly’s repeated calls for supporting national and international initiatives to hold Russia accountable for the crime of aggression and to prosecute those who have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and reported acts of genocide on the territory of Ukraine.
We also reiterate the need to put in place a Marshall Plan-type arrangement to facilitate and fund Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction. In this context, we welcome the recent initiatives by the United States, the EU and the G7 to use the revenues from frozen Russian assets to support Ukraine. Russia must pay for the damage it has caused to Ukraine’s economy and infrastructure.

We welcome the holding of the first Summit on Peace in Ukraine on 15-16 June and the progress achieved towards a framework for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace, based on international law, including the United Nations Charter. We continue to support Ukraine’s efforts to promote President Zelenskyy’s Peace Formula. 

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly is institutionally separate from NATO but serves as an essential link between NATO and the parliaments of the NATO nations. It provides greater transparency of NATO policies and fosters better understanding of the Alliance’s objectives and missions among legislators and citizens of the Alliance.

The Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council (UNIC) was created in 1998 to bring greater transparency to the implementation of the NATO Ukraine Charter and to demonstrate parliamentary interest and involvement in cooperation between NATO and Ukraine. It has since become a wider forum where members can discuss any issues of mutual concern. UNIC has played a leading role in the Assembly’s response to Russia’s renewed invasion.