By Steven C. Bondy, Ambassador of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Bahrain
On February 20, U.S. President Joe Biden arrived in Kyiv, a city that has become a symbol of resilience, resistance, and resolve. The President accepted the risk to reaffirm the United States’ “unwavering and unflagging commitment to Ukraine’s democracy, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.” As we mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s unjust invasion of Ukraine, we express our respect and admiration for the perseverance of Ukraine’s citizens and leaders. At the Mariinsky Palace, President Biden declared, “Ukraine stands. Democracy stands.”
President Biden’s words encapsulate the spirit of the democratic values and rules-based international order, especially the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and settling differences through diplomacy, that made the post-1945 period the most stable and prosperous in world history. The current conflict is not, and has never been, a war against Russia. It is, rather, a response to the political and military decisions Russia’s leadership made to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty, threaten the security and stability of its neighbors, and cause grievous losses to Ukrainian citizens while looking to seize territory. The Russian leadership claims it has legitimate grievances against Ukraine, NATO, and the United States. However, it was Russia that abandoned the path of diplomacy and launched an unprovoked war. Russia chose to impose its political and military will on what it perceived to be a smaller and weaker neighbor. Through its valiant stand, Ukraine is defending our collective values and principles.
As allies, partners, and friends, Bahrain and the United States agree on the norms that should govern international affairs. The United States honors Bahrain’s tradition of tolerance, focus on achieving peaceful relations, and support for the beautiful diversity present in the country. His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa demonstrated his courage and commitment to a peaceful future by joining the Abraham Accords, which the government under the leadership of His Royal Highness Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa has acted to implement. Pope Francis’s visit to Bahrain in November 2022 demonstrated to the world the wisdom of this country’s leadership.
Bahrain and the United States stand together in embracing a rules-based international order. Our partnership with the kingdom is based on common values and principles, chief among them respect for borders, territorial integrity, and using diplomacy to settle differences – regardless of historical claims of revisionist governments. Like Bahrain, other GCC countries, Egypt, and Jordan, the United States voted to censure Russia for invading Ukraine at the United Nations General Assembly in March 2022. Bahrain, the United States, and our partners recognized that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine violated the UN Charter and the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity enshrined within it. These countries also voted together just days ago to call on Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine and reach a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace. Disputes between countries should and must be resolved through diplomatic means.
Russia’s actions have exacerbated a global food security crisis, affecting the world’s most vulnerable nations and populations by driving up prices of energy, food, and fertilizer. Since February 24, 2022, the United States has provided more than $1.9 billion in humanitarian assistance to support displaced populations, including refugees, and other affected people inside Ukraine and around the world. Globally, the United States delivered $13 billion in humanitarian assistance in 2022. Bahrain has made great efforts to provide humanitarian relief to Ukrainian civilians and in many other at-risk areas, including most recently to victims of the devastating earthquakes.
Russia’s actions have led to its isolation from the international community. It now has to rely on countries like Iran, which is supplying Russia with weapons – including drones. Its decision to partner ever more closely with Iran represents a threat to Bahrain, the United States, and other friendly nations. Russia chose to start this war, and it can end it – stop the fighting, withdraw from occupied territory, and establish neighborly relations with Ukraine and other European nations. Until then, we will stand on the side of the Ukrainian people, as they stand for us all.