at Enghave Plads in Copenhagen on 24th of February, 2023, one year after Russia waged its bloody war on Ukraine.
We are gathered here tonight for a torchlight procession in anger, pain, and compassion.
We are gathered in solidarity with the people of Ukraine who are fighting so bravely and fiercely not to fall under the boots of the Kremlin dictator.
We are gathered in protest of the gigantic breach of promise by Russia, which in 1994, together with other major powers, recognised the inviolability of Ukrainian borders against Ukraine handing over its share of the old Soviet nuclear weapons to Russia.
Until the first hour of February 24, 2022, too optimistically, we thought that Putin was just bluffing.
We did so, even though we knew that he was unscrupulously indifferent to other people’s lives and welfare when it comes to expanding his own power.
We had seen that how he slaughtered Chechnya, invaded Georgia, seized Crimea and started the border war in Donbas nine years ago.
We had seen, how he murders his own countrymen, when they cross his path.
We knew that he was spending huge funds on misinformation and undermining Western democracies via support for right-wing radical movements.
We also now know that the machinations and lies manufactured in Putin’s troll factories helped bring about disasters like Brexit and Trump
But it dawned on us only gradually for how long he had been planning the attack against Ukraine, and the massive resources he spent over the years telling lies and creating a false narrative of animosity towards the Russians.
Only too late did we realise that Putin’s Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea were intended to strangle Ukraine economically and strengthen Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas.
And we didn’t believe Putin was ignorant and cruel enough to start a major war in Europe.
Ignorant, when he thought that Ukraine’s army and people would just raise their arms and surrender, and let him install a puppet government in Kyiv, only risking of a weak note of protest from the West.
Ignorant of the incompetency of his own corrupt military.
Ignorant of the fact that people in Ukraine – regardless of whether they speak Ukrainian or Russian at home – will fight with their lives to avoid to be trodden down by Putin’s boot.
Cruel in encouraging war crimes as murder, rape and abductions among Ukrainian civilians.
Cruel in waging a war that purposefully targets civilians and civilian targets with immense loss of life and property, and deprives people of access to water, heat and light in the cold of winter.
Cruel in disregarding the land war’s massive losses along the front lines and in the trenches.
People in Ukraine are fighting because they understand what awaits them if Putin gets his way.
The Ukrainians have amassed memories from the latest four or five generations of their country being the place in Europe where chance of survival was the least.
Countless millions perished at the behest of two of the twentieth century’s most insane dictators.
Stalin ordered millions of people’s death by starvation on their own land or in his slave camps, he executed the elite and used Ukrainians in particular as cannon fodder in World War II.
Hitler murdered the Jews of Ukraine and a large part of the civilian population in general. World War II rolled back and forth over Ukraine with unimaginable destruction, death, hunger, and poverty in its wake.
Putin wages war like Stalin and Hitler.
Pointless and barbaric, with no regard for civilian losses and destruction and without regard for how many of his own forcibly recruited soldiers will be sent to their graves.
With all his monumental mistakes, Putin seems intent on continuing the war through endless bloodshed and destruction that could turn Ukraine into a desert. He will not accept defeat.
Therefore, we in the West have two tasks:
First, we must do everything in our power to cement the hitherto unseen unity in NATO and the EU, which Putin has unleashed with his war of aggression, and which is now also bringing Finland and Sweden into NATO. We must continue and increase the aid with money and arms for Ukraine’s self-defense and deprive Putin of any illusion that we will tire before he does.
Second, we must wage a much more massive war of information against Putin’s lies and machinations, both directed towards our own public and to the sadly deluded Russians. People in Russia need to know that in no way do we want to destroy their country – we only want to prevent their dictator from destroying life for people in Ukraine. We hope to welcome a post-putinist age soon, where Europe can restart a mutually beneficial cooperation with a new and peaceful Russia.