Remarks at the Screening of the Film Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Hello everyone.  I’m Colleen Bell, United States Ambassador to Hungary.  I would like to welcome you and thank you for coming.  I am so pleased you could join us tonight to watch this important and powerful film — Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom.

This film screening is a highlight of the work of three embassies to create a program called Focus on Ukraine.  Our joint purpose is to encourage sustained support for a sovereign, unified and secure Ukraine that protects and respects the rights of its people.

The United States has stood in solidarity with Ukrainians who participated in the 2014 protests in Kyiv’s central Independence Square—known as Maidan—protests which are powerfully detailed in the documentary tonight.  As an international community, we have stood together to speak up for the rights of people of Ukraine, so that their voices and their views about their own country can be heard, and respected. That is why we are particularly pleased to be able to share this film, which allows the Ukrainians who participated in the Maidan protests to speak for themselves.

Two years ago this week, Ukraine showed us the power of the average citizen — man, woman, student, and worker.  You will see in the film, in the months of the Maidan protests, how the Ukrainian people used their united voices to hold their leaders accountable and to make democratic reforms happen.

As Secretary Kerry said at this time last year in Kyiv, “Ukrainians braved long nights, bitter cold, and violent crackdowns by a government that refused to hear its own people.  Snipers shot at them from rooftops, cutting down more than 100 people—protestors and police alike… what inspired me most was the Ukrainian people themselves, who are striving for a democratic and European future in the face of adversity and Russian aggression.”

Like Secretary Kerry, I am inspired, too, by the Ukrainian people–by their steadfast commitment and their commitment to a future within Europe and to the values we all share.

As we watch this film, let us admire the strength and hope of the Ukrainian people, but let us also remember that the struggle is not over.  Lives continue to be lost in Eastern Ukraine.  Ukraine’s sovereignty is still threatened so long as its territory is occupied.  Full implementation of the Minsk agreements is the best path to restore peace.

The United States will continue to stand firmly with Ukraine as it continues to implement the Minsk agreements and to make necessary reforms.  We believe in the Ukrainian people’s resilience and willingness to unite to change the system, and we will continue to stand together, united, for Ukrainians’ right for their voices to be heard.

Thank you again for coming.  I hope you all will also be inspired by this film — and by perseverance and courage of the Ukrainian people.