Press Release
For Immediate Release: 
March 2, 2022
Contact Info: 
Margaret Mulkerrin 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor this afternoon urging support for H.Res. 956, a bipartisan resolution that makes clear the United States’ support for Ukraine and its people following Russia’s invasion. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery and a link to the video:
 
Click here to watch the video.

“Madam Speaker, on Tuesday, as Russian missiles rained down on the cities of his country, Ukraine’s heroic president Volodymyr Zelenskyy virtually addressed the European Parliament in Brussels. He spoke of a horrendous missile attack that had just struck the main square of the besieged city of Kharkiv. ‘This is the largest square in Europe,’ he said. ‘…it is called ‘Freedom Square’…and believe you me: in every square today, no matter what it is called, it is going to be called ‘Freedom Square’…in every city of our country…nobody is going to break us…we are strong.’

“These past seven days, the people of Ukraine have indeed shown the world that they are strong. That they are united. That they are resolved to defend their freedom and their democracy. Madam Speaker, I served as co-Chair of the U.S. Helsinki Commission in the final years of the Cold War. I traveled to Kyiv, to Riga, to Vilnius, to Tallinn, to other cities behind the Iron Curtain. In each place, I saw a ‘Freedom Square,’ where either before or shortly after my visit people would gather to demand the right to choose their own future, their own leaders, and their own laws. I saw their yearning, their commitment to democracy, their courage and determination. President Zelenskyy is correct: wherever democracy thrives, every public square is a ‘Freedom Square.’

“Americans have sacrificed much over the generations to secure our freedom and others. Now, the tyranny and autocracy of Vladimir Putin tests us again. Though American forces will not be engaged directly in this war, that does not mean that America is sitting on the sidelines. Far from it. President Biden has unified not only NATO but a broad coalition of the world’s democratic nations and those committed to the post-war order of respecting peace, borders, and diplomacy. Dozens of nations have partnered to stand up to Putin and to support the freedom-fighters of Ukraine. Together, we have imposed punishing sanctions that are already hurting Putin’s regime. We are already seeing thousands of Russians taking to the streets in their country to demand that Putin end this unjust war and stop the unnecessary death and destruction on both sides, for which he alone is to blame. Today, this House – the People’s House representing the greatest democracy in history, the leading democratic nation in the world – is expressing our support for the Ukrainian people in their struggle for freedom and self-government.

“The resolution before us ought to be adopted with unanimity. It recognizes the egregious and inhumane actions undertaken by the Russian military, at Putin’s command, including the shelling of civilian targets and the killing of innocents in order to instill fear and weaken Ukrainians’ resolve. We know that resolve will not be broken, based on the heroic defense the world has watched over the past week. This resolution further recognizes, importantly, that Russian aggression against Ukraine did not begin last week. It began as soon as the Ukrainian people rejected a Putin-backed autocrat, established a true democracy, and sought the security and protection of stronger bonds with its fellow democracies in Europe and NATO, which it had every right – and, as we now see, every reason – to do. Putin sent his forces to occupy Crimea in 2014 and instigated a violent, separatist uprising in the Donbas region that has festered for eight long years. His unprovoked and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine comes after it became increasingly clear that the separatists could not achieve Putin’s expansionist aims on their own. And this resolution also makes clear that the United States will continue to support Ukraine by providing both military and humanitarian assistance while maintaining painful sanctions against Putin for as long as he pursues this war of choice.

“In no small part, this resolution puts into action the promise that President Kennedy made when he took office at the height of the Cold War. He declared to Americans and all freedom-seeking people around the world: ‘let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty.’

“Madam Speaker, Americans and our allies are being asked to pay a price, to bear a burden, to meet some hardship in the days, weeks, and months ahead. I believe the American people are ready to do that. Because those who say we take freedom for granted, who say the cost is too high, the burden too great, underestimate the American people. When we watch millions of ordinary citizens in Ukraine taking up arms and mobilizing to defend their cities and country, it reinvigorates our own determined commitment to democracy at home and around the world. When we see Vladimir Putin’s corrupt, evil, and menacing grab for power and tyrannical control, we are reminded of the tyrants and evil ideologies that Americans have fought and vanquished through our collective commitment and shared sacrifices.

“Today, let us make this house a ‘Freedom Square.’ Let us make every open space in America a ‘Freedom Square.’ And, by our example and by highlighting Ukrainians’ example, let us encourage the people of Russia too to build ‘Freedom Squares’ in Moscow and across their country to demand the same liberty, self-government, and better future that all people deserve. May God protect the courageous people of Ukraine in this hour of their danger and resistance. Vote ‘yes.’”