January 31, 2023
Church of Saints Sergio and Bacco, Rome
(As prepared for delivery)
Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to join you.
My name is Karen Donfried and I am the Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., where I work on behalf of President Biden and the American people.
It is my great pleasure to be here to not only see these moving drawings and pictures, but to hear firsthand your stories. I’m also honored to be here with some of the extraordinary people in this community and who are working tirelessly to support it, including Ambassador Yaroslav Melnyk [YAH-ro-slahv Mel-NIK], Bishop Paulo Dionisio Lachovicz, and several of our friends in the Italian government and non-governmental organizations. I thank you all for your efforts.
My message today is simple: We are with you. I’ll say it again: We are with you. We stand with Ukraine today and will stand with Ukraine and our allies for as long as it takes. We stand with more than 50 countries supporting Ukraine’s defense, and more than 140 who have voted in support of Ukraine at the United Nations, including Italy, our close friend, partner, and ally. I’d like to thank the Italian people and government for everything they have done, especially their tremendous generosity in helping Ukrainian refugees fleeing Russia’s aggression and in welcoming nearly 170,000 Ukrainian refugees as their brothers and sisters in this great country. I’d also like to recognize and thank organizations like Caritas, here today, for their tireless work assisting that community.
Those of you in this room, as well as the millions of Ukrainian refugees around the world, know the very real and very human costs of this war better than anyone else. We are doing our best in Washington and everywhere we work to remind ourselves of that cost as we prioritize the goal of getting Russia out of Ukraine completely and making your homeland safe for you to return.
Thank you for the opportunity to join you today, to hear from you, and to express our gratitude to the people of Italy and Ukraine. We are with you, we are doing everything we can, and I look forward to hearing your stories today. Grazie mille.