Statement by the NED Family: The National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, the Center for International Private Enterprise, and the Solidarity Center:
Vladimir Putin’s illegal and unjustified attack on a sovereign, free Ukraine is a watershed moment in the struggle for human freedom. To meet this moment, we are determined to support democracy activists on the frontline with the same sense of urgency they bring to their own national struggle. The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its four core partners—the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the International Republican Institute (IRI), the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and the Solidarity Center—stand in support and solidarity with our Ukrainian grantees, partners, staff, and their loved ones in Ukraine.
Since gaining independence in 1991, the people of Ukraine have time and again demonstrated their overwhelming desire to live in a free and democratic nation. We have been inspired as millions of Ukrainians have worked tirelessly and optimistically to build democratic institutions and practices in their country. Ukraine’s progress and commitment to this goal is what threatens and provokes Vladimir Putin. A democratic example on Russia’s border and a people with a shared culture and history who choose their own leaders, hold them accountable, and display a clear desire to join the community of democratic nations, represent an existential threat to Putin’s more than two-decade rule in Moscow and his ambition to dominate Russia’s neighbors.
Ukraine today is the epicenter of the fight for freedom in the world. The courage of the Ukrainian people—their willingness to risk everything to confront Russian aggression and defend their homeland—is an inspiration. They are a powerful example to all those worldwide who are joined in the struggle against authoritarian regimes that deprive free peoples of their basic rights and liberties, steal national wealth, attack and imprison political opponents, and silence independent media.
So too are the thousands of Russians and Belarusians who have risked arrest or worse to protest this criminal act of aggression. On Sunday, February 27, 2022, more than 10,000 people visited the memorial near the Kremlin marking the spot where Putin’s democratic rival, Boris Nemtsov, was assassinated seven years earlier. This is what Putin, and all dictators fear—ordinary citizens who would like to choose their leaders in free and fair elections and hold those leaders to account.
As the Ukrainian people struggle to preserve their sovereignty, their democracy, and their hopeful future, it is time for all those worldwide who live in freedom to rally to the cause of a free Ukraine.
Putin’s attack on Ukraine comes at a moment when democratic institutions are being systematically undermined across the globe and authoritarian regimes are growing in number and strength. Alert to a great danger, democratic societies should make every effort to secure the freedoms we cherish, the institutions we have built, and the values we have affirmed, to promote a more secure, just, and peaceful world.
Ukraine’s defense should become the valiant first chapter of a global democratic revival. In this task, we are committed to supporting a great coalition of courageous and creative political leaders, civic activists, independent journalists, labor organizers, entrepreneurs, and ordinary citizens who will lead the way.