Zelenskyy’s speech at US National Defense University

December 12,2023 798
Zelenskyy’s speech at US National Defense University

“Freedom must always prevail when challenged,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

It’s a great honor to be here.

General Plehn – Mr. President of the National Defence University, thank you for your kind words.

I want to start by saying thank you, Secretary Austin. A huge man, a big friend of Ukraine. Thank you for your personal leadership during this time for supporting Ukraine and defending all the free world.

Chairman Brown, thank you for your vision and support.

And special thanks to you, Secretary Del Toro and Secretary Wormuth, for all your invaluable support to the Ukrainian Navy and Army. Thank you very much.

It’s a real honor for me to be and speak here at this University, known for its years of dedication to fine-tuning the defense of freedom. The world not just knows the names of those who’ve studied and taught here; it really feels the impact of the choices they’ve made or the guidance they’ve given as mentors. And if you look at it that way, Ukraine definitely deserves to be here – represented by our brave warriors, our people, and I believe, as equals. Ukraine has left its mark on the world – that’s something you can feel. It’s probably felt most strongly now in Moscow. And it’s going to keep being felt there even more so, until we tackle this enemy of freedom.

Ladies and gentlemen!

In many speeches and lectures given in places like this University, or similar ones, people often talk about “after the collapse of the Berlin Wall”. As soon as you hear that, you get what they’re talking about – the time period, the emotions, the leadership involved. And most importantly, it’s about how freedom spread like ripples in a pond through Central Europe, then Eastern Europe, and across the world.

The world really did change after that wall came down, starting a new era. They said it would be a time when freedom, human rights, democracy, and market economy would lead the way globally. And that wasn’t just talk. Nations that had been under the thumb for so long and could only dream of freedom started walking that path.

But, the ones who used to suppress freedom, they didn’t give up their dreams either.

Since 1989, freedom’s enemies got stronger, trying to turn their annoyance at freedom’s success into a comeback. They channeled funds into terrorism. Stirred up trouble. Spread hate and stoked the fires of local conflicts, trying to turn them into full-blown wars or at least freeze them like incurable tumors, stifling the freedom of nations. They brought back the nuclear scare. Every decade piled on more problems, and not one year in the last thirty-plus years was safe for freedom. 2022 turned out to be the year when one of the biggest enemies of freedom, with its all out, unjust, and unprovoked war, tried to smash everything built up since the Berlin Wall fell.

Russia’s war on Ukraine isn’t just about some old-fashioned dictatorship trying to settle scores, real or imagined. It’s not just Moscow trying to split Europe again. It’s Putin attacking that big shift that happened back in 1989.

He’s fighting Ukraine, but really, he’s up against all of free, united Europe. He’s wrecking everyday life in Ukrainian cities, but his real target is the freedom people enjoy from Warsaw to Chicago to Yokohama. He’s trying to make democratic countries lose hope, pushing the idea that dictatorships with a bit of market economy are winning this global face-off. This isn’t just about competing systems – Russia’s still got the means to mess with democracies worldwide. Putin’s got buddies in this – each one a threat to any free nation, to regional or global order, to human rights and democracy, be it HAMAS, Iran, North Korea or others. No accidents here – they’re all linked by their hate for freedom. Putin’s crafting his own ideology, and at its core is complete disregard for human life, for freedom, and for respecting any kind of borders – between countries, between people, even between truth and lies. He’s spreading this ideology, looking for allies even here in America. His weapon against you right now is propaganda and disinformation, but if he sees a chance, he’ll go further. Now, he’s shifting Russia’s economy and society onto what he calls “war tracks”. Sadly, he’s had time to do this. But the direction of these “war tracks” is clear – I’m sure you see it.

Full text of the address: Office of the President of Ukraine

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