In the early morning hours of February 24 of last year, when Russian tanks entered Ukraine, the world held its breath. Russia is trying to subjugate an independent European country and forcibly redraw borders in Europe. These events marked the beginning of a new era. A dark war on European soil. Absurd, illegitimate and illegal aggression against an independent and sovereign country and innocent people, in the 21st century, said Slavjanka Petrovska minister of Denfence.
She added that the Ukrainian heroes pushed back the Russian attackers out of Kyiv in the north, Kharkiv in the east and Kherson in the south. Despite the fact that some analysts predicted that Ukraine would fall within a few days, the legendary heroism of the Ukrainian people astounded the world that watched in disbelief.
“After my return from Ukraine yesterday, I can say that I am still absorbed by the rush of emotions from what I saw and witnessed there. It is something that you cannot experience through the screens. Life in fear and uncertainty, destroyed homes and families, people who will mourn forever for their sons and daughters who gave their lives for the freedom of their country. But in Ukraine, I also saw much more. Contrary to the horror, unscrupulous destruction and terror – stands heroism, determination and the drive of the Ukrainian people to defend themselves and to protect what is sacred to all of them – their motherland”, Slavjanka said.
She also added that commemorating a year of immeasurable losses and pain, we commemorate also a year of resistance, courage, a year of unity. This is a year of the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people against the full Russian invasion against Ukraine, and a year of unity and strengthened alliance on the European continent.
“We can say that Putin made two major strategic mistakes – first, he completely underestimated the determination of Ukraine. He underestimated also the unity of Europe, the unity of NATO. Our unity is our greatest strength. Thy tried to divide us, but achieved precisely the opposite. We are more united and more determined than ever before. North Macedonia, as a member state of NATO, but primarily as a state that makes decisions independently led precisely by the principles of respect for the international law, has shown in action that it is firmly committed to the support and assistance for Ukraine. In terms of our capacities and size, I am proud that we belong to the group of countries that help Ukraine in its just defense against the aggression. And our goal was never and will never be for the war to be prolonged, but to help an independent and sovereign country to defend itself from the aggression against it. We did this not only because we are a member of NATO, but because we believe in the principles of international law”, declared Petrovska.
“In the next period, our unity and solidarity will continue to be put to the test, through a wide range of pressures. Threats are coming from state and non-state actors, who apart from conventional military, also use political, economic and other tools. They are increasingly more using mechanisms of “soft” power, through a hybrid war, including disinformation and cyber-attacks. They do this with the purpose to weaken the institutions, economies and societies, to threaten their security, and with the ultimate goal to wear out, reduce and discourage the support for Ukraine that the democratic world is selflessly offering. The main problem with wars is that they are easier to start than end. Russia is trying to create circumstances in which it will destroy the will of the Ukrainian people to resist. But if Putin wins in his intentions, it will be a message to him, but also to other authoritarian regimes that with the use of force they can achieve their goals and satisfy their appetites. This will make the world more dangerous. And that is why, we must all together continue with the support for Ukraine to defend itself from the illegal aggression against it. It may sound like a paradox, but the greater the support for Ukraine, the quicker, through diplomacy and willingness to talk, we will come to sustainable peace”, she informed.
According to Petrovska, the greater our unity as Europe is, the quicker Ukraine’s victory will be.
“This is not just a battle of Ukraine to defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty. This is a battle for preserving the entire international order, of the international community based on rules and principles. Freedom has no price, therefore we must continue with our unequivocal support to Ukraine, for the good of Europe and peace and security at the global level”, concluded Petrovska.