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Ukraine’s victory will send a message to all dictatorships – Umerov’s speech at Ramstein

November 27, 2023 11:09 AM 6 min read
Ukraine's Defense Minister Rustem Umerov attends an in-person Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting at Ramstein Air Base, southwestern Germany, on Sept. 19, 2023. (Photo by AFP via Getty Images)
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Editor’s Note: This is the speech of Ukraine’s Defense Minister Rustem Umerov, which he delivered on Nov. 22 at the 17th meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group (Ramstein format). Defense leaders from more than 50 partner countries participated in the meeting. The Kyiv Independent publishes the speech with permission.

Let me start by mentioning one Ukrainian town. It is called Oleshky. It is a small town in the Kherson region. I mentioned it because our soldiers right now are bravely fighting the enemy not far from it — on the left bank of the Dnipro River.  

Because Russia leaves us no choice.

I mentioned the town of Oleshky because it is six hours away by car from my hometown Alushta in Crimea.

Please reflect on this for a minute. Just six hours away from my home — if measured by peacetime standards.

How fast can we get there? What will it cost? What do we need to make it happen? I think about it every day.

And I am sure that every one of you is helping Ukraine cover this distance.

For a year and a half now, your support brings us closer to home.

Abrams, Challengers, Leopards, Bradleys, Caesars and Zuzanas, Himars and M270, M777 howitzers, Patriots and NASAMS, ATACMS, Bayraktars — and hundreds of other types of weaponry your governments have provided — make us stronger in our fight with the aggressor.

By developing coalitions – Artillery, Armor, Aviation, Maritime, IT and Demining. And working to create new ones. Together we protect millions of innocent people. Every Ukrainian, who was forced to leave home. Whose home was destroyed. Who is stuck in occupation.

Russia kidnaps our children. Literally. They separate children from families by force and deport to Russia – 20,000 of them!

Our people are all waiting for a chance to come back home. To rebuild their house. To be back with their families.

There are also millions of children, who every night wake up from air raid alerts and take cover in shelters. Or spend their nights sitting in the bathroom to be protected by one more wall. We have a name for it – “the rule of two walls.” Every kid knows it.

Because Russia leaves us no choice.

Our cities are shelled every day. Even several times a day. As in Kherson. As in Kharkiv. Cities, where missiles destroyed high-rise residential buildings, killing entire families. As in Dnipro. As in Zaporizhzhia.

Unfortunately, we cannot provide one hundred percent protection to them all. We need more air defense. And we are extremely grateful for every system you have provided.

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Because we are protecting not only our homes. But also the grain elevators, grain storages, and ports. We are doing everything in our power to sustain the grain corridor. The security and stability of the entire African continent depends on it.

Russia is weaponizing food and hunger. Hybrid war is a Russian weapon of choice. In Ukraine they also began with hybrid warfare. And soon enough — continued to the full-scale war.

Now, they are expanding their hybrid methods to other countries. Russia is already causing waves of migration at the borders of Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Finland. What’s next?

For sure, Russia is not going to stop by itself.

The only language Moscow can understand is power. And we learned this language well.

Because Russia leaves us no choice.

We have pushed Russian warships out of the Black Sea with asymmetric weapons. We kicked out their fleet virtually without any fleet of our own.

Just like HIMARS made a drastic difference, when they first came to Ukraine, our naval drones together with Storm Shadow and SCALP missiles, demonstrated amazing results. These missiles were a painful surprise for the aggressor.

And then another one — ATACMS. And your artillery, especially the long-range munitions, inflicts enormous damage to the enemy infantry, logistical hubs, warehouses.

According to our General Staff report, Russia lost almost 36,000 soldiers just since our last meeting — six weeks ago. In the same period, Ukrainian forces also destroyed more than 500 enemy tanks, almost 1,000 armored vehicles, and seven planes.

I know that after this meeting you will have to explain, once again, to your fellow citizens why you provide aid to Ukraine. Why that much, why it takes so long, why it still matters.

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Yesterday, Ukraine commemorated the Air Assault Forces Day.

I called their commander, major-general Myrhorodsky, to give my regards.

And I asked him what he needs to have an advantage over the enemy.

The general was clear: electronic warfare systems, UAVs, ammunition, armor, portable air defense. His guys storm the Russian trenches every day. And they clearly know what they need to crush the enemy.

Every shell is a chance to destroy an enemy position.

Every tank is an opportunity to liberate a village.

Every electronic warfare station is an asset to protect a part of the front line from enemy drones.

Now let me switch the focus a little bit.

We spend a lot of time talking about weapons. But let me show you one photo.

This is an ordinary Ukrainian family. Vitaliy joined the Army in March 2022. He is fighting now. Іryna works at a defense factory.

Their daughter Diana goes to school in Kyiv. She is very proud of her parents. And she is proud of the Ukrainian air defense system that our partners helped to deploy, giving her a chance to study and play with her friends.

This is not the future this family dreamed about!

This is how thousands of our families had to transform in order to survive. And — to win. We are building a strong partnership to strengthen the Ukrainian Army. Together with you, we are developing a powerful defense industry. To give this child a future.

Because Russia leaves us no choice.

Every air defense system is a message to the soldier, whose photo I just showed you. The message that his wife and child are protected and safe, while he is fighting at the front line.

Every long-range missile is a contribution to the freedom of navigation in the Black Sea. And — constant supply of grain to 400 million people in Africa.

All of this brings the moment of Russia’s defeat on the battlefield closer. And the day of Ukraine’s Victory, too.

This will be the message to other dictatorships. The message that they will be punished for the crime of aggression. Even if they disguise it as a “special military operation.”

They will be punished for destroyed houses, hospitals, and schools. For murdered and kidnapped children.

They will be punished for the fact that this Christmas, 10 million Ukrainians are separated from their homes by a six-hour drive down a dangerous road.

We have already come a long way to this point. We did it together.

So, let's make the remaining six-hour drive possible.

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Editor’s Note: This story is based on an investigation by Trap Aggressor, a project by Ukrainian NGO StateWatch, that advocates for principles of good governance. The investigation’s author, Roman Steblivskyi, is a researcher at StateWatch. This story has been translated from Ukrainian and edited by…
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