KIEV (QHA) -

I am deeply honored to be invited to speak to you today at a moment marked by great opportunity and great uncertainty for the people of Ukraine. The stakes for your country and the expectations of your people have never been higher because Ukraine, as you know, better than I, has been here before.

 

In the West, as here, we remember the Orange Revolution.Young men and women who filled the Maidan a decade ago demanding that their voices and their votes both be respected.

They refused to back down in the face of rigged elections and they succeeded.

Ukraine's leaders proved incapable of delivering on promises of democratic revolution.

We saw reforms put in place only to be rolled back. We saw oligarchs uninterested in change ousted from power only to return. Reformers persecuted, thrown in prison a s political retribution. And the bright flame of hope for new Ukraine snuffed out by the pervasive poison of cronism, corruption and cleptocracy.

Nearly a decade later that flame of hope was re-ignited by thousands of brave Ukrainians.

For the first time since Middle Ages bells of St. Mary raised the alarm calling citizens of Ukraine to reinforce their brothers and sisters on the Maidan.

Amidst fire and ice, snipers on rooftops, the Heavenly Hundred paid the ultimate price of patriots the world over, their blood and courage delivering to the Ukrainian people a second chance for freedom. Their sacrifice, to put it bluntly, is now your obligation.

All of you must put aside all of your differences and make real the Revolution of Dignity.

Each of you has an obligation to seize the opportunity... to answer the call of history and finally build a united democratic Ukrainian nation that can stand the test of time.

Edmund Burke once said it best in 1774 speaking to his constituency in Bristol, England. Here's what he said: "Parliament is a deliberate assembly of one nation with one interest, that of the whole where not local purpose, not local prejudice are to gide but the general good.

I respectfully suggest this is a stand for which each of you will be judged. This is a standard by which your grandchildren, your great grandchildren, your progeny will judge whether or not you had the moral courageto put the general good above local prejudice. This is all within your power. This is in your hands. Nobody else's. Yours. You can bend the arch of history of this nation toward greater justice and opportunity for the Ukrainina people. And you can do it now.

In the 21st century nations cannot and we will not allow them to redraw borders by force. There are the ground rules. Russia has violated these ground rules and continues to violate them. Today, Russia is occupying sovereign Ukrainian territory. Let me be crystal clear: the United States does not, will not, never will recognize Russia's attempt to annex Crimea

There is no justification. Then as Russia continues to send its thugs, its troops, its mercenaries across the border. Russian tanks and missiles still fill the Donbass. Separatist forces are organized, commanded and directed by Moscow. By Moscow! So, the United States will continue to stand with Ukraine against Russian aggression. We are providing support to help and train and assist your security forces

America and Europe now stand together, united in our commitment to impose tough economic sanctions on Russia. And while Russian aggression persists, the cost imposed on Moscow will continue to rise. There can be no sanctions relief unless and until Russia meets all - all of its commitments.

It is not just your territory they covet. It's your success that they fear. For a free election occurs and the people determine, as I am confident they will, that they want to remain an intrical part of Ukraine. That they are Ukrainians first. That's what Russia fears. That's what Putin fears.

We will not recognize any nation having a sphere of influence. Sovereign states havethe right to make their own decisions and choose their own alliances. Period.

The false propaganda that the Kremlin is disseminating in an attempt to undermine Ukraine and fracture Europe's resolve will not work.

No one should mistake saber-rattling and bombast for strength. No one should mistake saber-rattling and bombast for real strength.

Heavy weapons must be withdrawn from the frontlines, the OSCE must be granted full unencumbered access. Russia must press the separatists to hold elections according to Ukrainian law and OSCE standards and disavow illegal election that is taking place.

Hostages held by Russia and its proxies must be returned.

Russian troops must leave.

Ukrainian side of the border must be returned to Ukrainian control.

We've made it clear to Russia and the world that continued delaying and foot-dragging is unacceptable. That includes elections in the Donbass. They can only go forward as stipulated under the Minsk agreements.

Full access to the media must be provided, Ukrainian political parties allowed to compete openly, full and unobstructed OSCE election monitoring, full voting rights for the people displaced from their homes in the Donbass and living eleswhere in Ukraine. And all weapons contained and kept under OSCE supervision.

That only happens if Russia lives up to its commitments. If Russia does its part. If it does you must follow through with yours because this is the best chance to kepp Donbass in Ukraine and began restoring Ukrainian sovereignty and teritorial integrity.

It's hard, there's nothing easy about what you have to do. There is nothing easy. The pressure you will get will be immense.

The alternative to what I just said is to continue to live under separatists, thugs and criminals who deny humanitarian aid, keep out organizations like Doctors Without Borders stealing life-saving medicine to sell in the black market. That's not a future I believe any Ukrainians want for their children. That's why the Minsk agreement needs to be implemented in full, and truly free and fair elections are what Kremlin fears the most.

But as all of you know the struggle for Ukraine's freedom is not confined to the battlefields of the East.

Constitution reform that includes judicial reforms and decentralization does not compromise your sovereignty, it enhances it. It's an important step to building a new nation.

But in addition you also have a battle, a historic battle against corruption.

Ukraine cannot afford for the people to lose hope again. The only thing worse than having no hope at all is having hopes rise and see them dashed repeatedly.

And if the people resign themselves to exploitation and corruption for fear of losing whatever little they have left that would be the death now for Ukrainian democracy.

We've taken so many critical steps already but all of you know there' more to do to finish this race. Not enough has been done yet.

You cannot name me a single democracy in the world where the cancer of corruption is prevalent. You cannot name me one. They are thoroughly inconsistent.

It's not enough to set up a new anti-corruption bureau and establish a special prosecutor for fighting corruption. The office of the General Prosecutor desperately needs reform, the Judiciary should be overhauled, the energy sector needs to be competitive, ruled by market principles, not sweetheart deals.

It is not enough to push through laws to increase transparency with regard to official sources of income.

Senior elected officials have to remove all conflict between their business interests and their government responsibilities.

Oligarchs and non-oligarchs must play by the same rules. They have to pay their taxes, settle their disputes in courts not by bullying judges. That's basic. That's how nations succeed in the 21st century.

Corruption syphons away resources of the people, blunts away economic growth and offends human dignity.

When Russia seeks to use corruption as a tool of coercion reform is not just good governance, it's self-preservation. It is in the national security interests of the nation.

Russia is trying to undermine the stability and sovereignty of Ukraine in any way they can, including squeezing Ukraine financially, trying to undermine your economy.

They view it as a cheaper way of sending tanks across the line of contact.

So Ukraine must be strong enough to choose its own future. Strong defensively, strong economically with the strong system of economic governance.

The United States is with you in this fight.

We've rallied the international community to commit 25 billion dollars in bilateral financing to support Ukraine, 2 billion dollars of US loan guarantees.

Yesterday I announced a 190 million dollars new American assistance, helping Ukraine fight corruption, strengthen the rule of law, implement critical reforms, bolster civil society, advance energy security.

That brings a total of our direct aid to almost 760 million dollars in direct assistance and loan guarantees. And that's not the end of what we're prepared to do if you keep moving.

But for Ukraine to continue to make progress and keep the support of the international community you have to do more as well.

The whole world is watching you. Because their hopes for your success as you fight both the unrelenting agression of the Kremlin and the bane of corruption will impact on them. In both of these struggles you have the unwavering support of the United States of America and the American people, including nearly 1 million proud Ukrainian Americans.

You have the united support of Europe - Western, Central and Eastern Europe - all invested in your democratic success. Because your success goes at the heart of an enduring commitment to Europe - whole, free and at peace. If you fail, the experiment fails.

It is no exaggeration to say that the hopes of freedom-loving people the world over are with you because so much rides on your fragile experiment with democracy succeeding.

It's equally important, by the way, for agressors around the world to understand that they can't use coercion, bribery, sending tanks and men across the border to extinguish the dreams and hopes of the people. For if you succeed that message is sent around the world.

I urge you to stay the course as hard as it is. Ukraine needs a budget that's consistent with your IMF commitments. Anything else would jeopardize Ukraine's hard-won progress and drive down the support for Ukraine from the international community which is always tenuous.It is alway tenuous. We keep pushing that support.

Ukrainian people have long struggled to direct their own destinies, to carve out a place beside the mighty Dnipro, to clean their won identity - proud and distinct.

Nadiya Savchenko, pioneering Ukrainian helicopter pilot, who was elected to the Rada despite being unjustly imprisoned to this day. I will speak of her bravery.

Ukraine's moment - it maybe your last moment. Please, for the sake of all of us - selfishly on my part - don't waste it. Build a better future for the people of Ukraine.

As long as you remain on that path, as long as you honor the obligations to the Ukrainian people, you'll nver have to worry or doubt America or the United States will be by your side.

I just have, as a fellow human being, I just have such hope in the promise of what you can deliver. It will spread far beyond the borders of Ukraine.

If you succeed you'll be the founders of the first truly free democratic united Ukraine. An awesome responsibility but what aan incerdible opportunity to serve your country.

QHA