Commentary on Political Economy

Tuesday 4 July 2023

Volodymyr Zelensky: Happy Birthday, America

Ukraine is grateful to the U.S. for providing both support for and an example of liberty.

July 2, 2023 3:42 pm ET

A depiction of a reading of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, July 4, 1776. . PHOTO: BRIDGEMAN IMAGES

Kyiv, Ukraine

America’s Founders upended history when they forged a republic based on individual freedom and political pluralism, pledging to live as “free and independent states.” It was, and is, the greatest attempt in history to rid mankind of tyranny. They broke with centuries of subservience to create a new type of nation, one where all are equal and live free.


This majestic reality was created on July 4, 1776. On Feb. 24, 2022, we Ukrainians made the same choice. The American people stood with us and, I am sure, will stand with us to the end. Today, as Americans celebrate their freedom and independence, we celebrate with you and envision the day when every inch of Ukraine is free of the cruel tyranny that seeks to extinguish us.

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A decade ago the current boss of Russia wrote that “America is not exceptional.” What he did later shows what he really meant. Many tyrants in human history have claimed global influence, but none of them could inspire the rest of the world to strive for the best in human nature. That’s why today’s Russian tyrants, like all tyrants, are fundamentally weak and their regime will crumble over time. When any tyrant hates America and denies its exceptional role in the struggle for freedom, he recognizes his own inevitable defeat. To Russian tyranny I say the world needs more, not less, American exceptionalism.

When Ukrainians took to the streets in 2014 to oust the Russian-backed dictator, they did so because they desperately wanted to be free—to be part of the West, governed by the ideals forged during the American Revolution, the idea “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

When Russia fully invaded Ukraine in 2022, it was an attempt not only to bring the Ukrainian people under Vladimir Putin’s dictatorial rule, but also to extinguish the ideals that inspire people to be free. Since Ukraine gained independence, Ukrainians have always supported democracy, defended the dignity of every person, and strived to live in a free world together with other European nations.

 Ukraine gained independence, Ukrainians have always supported democracy, defended the dignity of every person, and strived to live in a free world together with other European nations.

Russian tyranny sees that it is not eternal and not sustainable when it looks at Ukraine—free, independent Ukraine; strong, democratic Ukraine leading to true democracy and freedom spreading here on the eastern flank of Europe, and especially to Russia. Ukraine integrated with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the West is a guarantee that freedom will continue to win and peace will triumph.

Russian tyranny is desperately trying to attract other enemies of freedom, in particular the Iranian regime, which tries to threaten free nations all over the world and provides weapons to Russia that kill innocent Ukrainian civilians on a daily basis. If—God forbid—Russia were to succeed in Ukraine, it would further embolden countries like Iran to take up arms against free peoples elsewhere in the world. It would encourage Russia to invade deeper into Europe, bringing it into direct confrontation with NATO.

All such scenarios can be stopped only by the steadfast defense of freedom, those who aspire to freedom, and the alliances created to protect freedom. We Ukrainians and you Americans will never give up on freedom.

Mr. Zelensky is president of Ukraine.

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