U.S. Embassy Vienna Statement – August 24, 2022
Six Months of Brutal War in Ukraine
August 24th marks the 31st anniversary of Ukraine’s independence. The day also marks six months since the Russian government’s unprovoked, full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Russia’s aggression in Ukraine is one of the most consequential events for Europe since World War II. Russian forces have committed war crimes and atrocities, and their war in Ukraine will have negative ramifications on global food insecurity and the global economy for years to come. This attack was so shocking to the international community that it was thoroughly condemned by the UN General Assembly and spurred two new countries to seek membership in the NATO Alliance. The worldwide reaction to Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine has been so visceral and moved so many because in the conduct of this war, we have seen evidence—on a nearly daily basis—of violence, destruction, devastation, and death.
The consequences of Russia’s war are not confined to Ukraine. Russia’s aggression has upended the global grain trade, endangering food security for many populations. The current crisis also has accelerated inflation and retail prices around the world.
Sanctions by the United States and our partners and allies are designed to compel the Kremlin to cease its violence. These measures are taking a toll on Russia’s economy, which has required unprecedented (and unsustainable) Kremlin intervention to prevent significant damage.
Economists predict that, in the longer term, as sanctions are expanded and tightened, the Russian government will run out of stalling tactics and the true costs of its actions will become painfully real for the Russian people.
The evidence is already there for anyone to see. The Kremlin has failed to report key macroeconomic metrics for several months. Despite Putin’s claims that Russia was faring better than the EU, the actual figures say the opposite, with Russia’s economy contracting by four percent in the second quarter of 2022, while the EU’s economy grew by the same margin. Russia has already missed two debt payments and defaulted on its foreign currency debt for the first time in more than a century.
Coordinated sanctions have also frozen more than half of the Russian Central Bank’s reserves, money the Kremlin would otherwise use to finance its war machine. The lack of access to imported inputs and finished goods, particularly goods embedded with sophisticated technologies, has created bottlenecks and, over time, will further impair production, transport, and commerce, and importantly, the production and maintenance of military hardware.
As sanctions continue to degrade Putin’s warfighting capabilities, Ukrainian forces are successfully defending their country, and the Ukrainian people are more united than ever.
From Main Street to the Maidan, Capitol Hill to the EU Concilium, broad support for Ukraine has demonstrated that unprovoked attacks on sovereign, independent states will not go unanswered and will come at a very high price. The United States and its allies and partners around the world are more united than ever.
We will continue to stand with Ukraine and support its fight for survival while also working to bolster European security and democratic values. We stand with Ukraine because borders and food supplies are not bargaining chips. We stand with Ukraine because human rights are incontrovertible. We stand with Ukraine because it is the right thing to do.