Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 26.08.2018
“We will defeat the invaders and send them back to where they came from. To Vladimir Putin: you will never defeat the Ukrainian people and deprive them of their independence and freedom.” – Senator John McCain, 31 December 2016, Mariupol, Ukraine.
John McCain was a hero of Ukraine. The American senator who died yesterday at the age of 81, did more to inspire hope and courage in the people of Ukraine than any American president or any European government leader. John McCain was with the Ukrainian people in their great moments of democratic and national awakening: during the Orange Revolution, the Revolution of Dignity, and in the war to defend the Ukrainian homeland from foreign invasion from Muscovy.
Senator McCain supported the right of Ukrainians to live their lives as they choose and to govern themselves by their own lights. He did this because those are fundamental American values, and John McCain expressed that bedrock code of American life when he saw what was happening in Ukraine. “I don't think you could view this as anything other than our traditional support for people who want free and democratic society,” is how the Senator described on 15 December 2013 his support for “EuroMaidan” – the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine.
As a legacy of the criminal occupation regime from Muscovy from before 1991, Ukraine was struggling to assert its true but masked character as an open, European society. Great spontaneous eruptions of national consciousness occurred in Ukraine in late 2004 with the Orange Revolution and in late 2013 with the Revolution of Dignity. These movements were for peace, normalcy, inclusiveness, and democracy. These movements were against corruption, oligarchy, and aggressive colonialism coming from Moscow.
John McCain recognized these miraculous bursts of true freedom in Ukraine for what they were and he didn’t just talk about it – he went to Ukraine. Ukrainians have a habit of holding popular uprisings against their corrupt rulers during the worst possible weather. But John McCain stood on the freezing stage on Independence Square in Kyiv in December 2004 and said a very simple thing: he said that Ukrainians were doing the right thing to fight for free and fair elections. John McCain stood in that same square nine years later, in December 2013, and said that Ukrainians were doing the right thing to fight for their home in Europe.
Senator McCain was the true leader of the democratic West to Ukrainians. No one of his stature stood beside him on the stage in Independence Square to stand up for Ukraine, to stand up for the European dream of peace and unity, or to stand up for Western values of tolerance and respect. President Barack Obama never visited Ukraine in his entire presidency, even though the fate of the post-Second World War world is being determined in Ukraine and in Muscovy’s invasion of Ukraine. Trump is profoundly ignorant about Ukraine and unquestioningly supportive of the Putin regime in Moscow. No Chancellor of Germany or President of France or Prime Minister of Britain visited Ukraine in its time of peril, not even to defend the European Union-Ukraine Association Agreement that they initiated.
Combat veteran that he was, John McCain went right up to the front line where Russia is invading Europe in Ukraine. Over New Years 2017, Senator McCain went to Mariupol and to Shyrokyne. Mariupol is a Ukrainian city on the Sea of Azov that was liberated from Putin’s invaders in June 2014. He delivered a message to Ukrainian citizens in Mariupol: “I send a message from the American people: We are with you, your fight is our fight and we will win together.” Shyrokyne is a village east of Mariupol, directly on the front line. Senator McCain spoke to Ukrainian Marines who could be spared from their combat positions in the trenches. He spoke as a veteran to serving soldiers. He spoke as a comrade and as an ally.
Ukraine has lost a great friend. John McCain embodied American ideals of liberty and of justice, and reflected that these are Ukrainian ideals embodied in the ‘Maidans’ and in Ukrainian's heroic defence from Muscovy aggression. In the tradition of the American maverick, John McCain “put his money where his mouth is” and he went to Ukraine. Even though there was some small physical danger, Senator McCain stood up for what he believed in.
A democratic society with free and fair elections can be a just society. A self-determining people can live a normal and a happy life. A sovereign nation secure within its internationally-recognized borders can live in peace and security. These are American values, these are Ukrainian values, and these are universal values. John McCain is a hero in Ukraine because he stood up for what is great and good in the Ukrainian people.
Дякуємо за все, сенаторе. Dyakuyemo za vse, senatore. Thank you, Sir.