Welcome Remarks by Ambassador Bathsheba Crocker
Marking One Year Since Russia’s Full-Scale Invasion of Ukraine
Thursday, February 23, 2023
Les Cinémas du Grütli, Geneva
Good evening, everyone. Thank you for being here.
Tomorrow marks one year since Russia launched its unprovoked, full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Today marks nine years since Russia’s invasion, illegal seizure, and occupation of Crimea on February 23rd, 2014.
We are here tonight to honor the strength and resilience of the Ukrainian people as they defend their land, their democracy, and their freedom. I also want to acknowledge the enormous and unified international response—in Geneva and around the world—and to reaffirm our commitment to stand with Ukraine and to hold Russia to account.
Russia’s war of aggression is causing staggering suffering and tragedy in Ukraine, the region, and beyond. This includes death and destruction on cities and civilians, unspeakably cruel filtration operations to separate Ukrainian children from their parents, and looting and destruction of cultural heritage sites around the country. Russia’s invasion has caused the highest levels of displacement—both refugees and internally displaced persons— in Europe since World War II. The impact is being felt globally as food and energy costs have skyrocketed, putting financial strain on billions of people around the world.
Russia’s actions not only violate the UN Charter and the principles of non-aggression, sovereignty and territorial integrity, but they also undermine the foundation of the international system.
Over the past year, we have come together across Geneva and around the world to take action within the UN system to condemn Russia and refuse “business as usual” when it comes to Russia’s participation in multilateral bodies. Russia made a calculated decision to violate the UN Charter with its full-scale invasion of Ukraine a year ago—and simply put, Russia should not be able to participate without accountability in the international system that it undermines.
Maintenance of the global order that serves all of us so well is neither pre-ordained nor guaranteed. The engine of that global order, underpinned by the principles of the UN Charter, is only as strong as the effort that those of us who value it put in to sustain it—so that it can ultimately sustain us all. May our commitment in this endeavor, and to Ukraine, be unwavering.
This evening’s program—which is co-hosted by the Permanent Mission of Ukraine—offers an opportunity to reflect on the past year, to reinforce International Geneva’s commitment to Ukraine, and to continue to hold Russia responsible for its actions. We hope that the two short documentary films, interspersed with a poetry reading and musical performances by young Ukrainians, will shine a light on the humanity that somehow perseveres. May we all learn from them as we work here in Geneva through our permanent missions, the UN system, and with NGO and civil society partners, to bring the war to a just and swift end.
Thank you again for being here. I would now like to invite my good friend and colleague Julie Smith, U.S. Ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization—who is thankfully in Geneva with us tonight—to say a few words.