Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Nunes and other members of the committee: Thank you for the opportunity to begin this statement, to introduce myself to the committee and to highlight some of my biography and experience.
I stand before you as an American citizen who has devoted most of my life (33 years) to serving the land that we all love. Like my colleagues, I entered the Foreign Service and saw it as my task to implement the foreign policy interests of that nation as defined by the President and Congress, regardless of which person or party was in power. I had no other agenda than to pursue our declared foreign policy goals. My ministry is an expression of gratitude for all that this land has given to my family and to me. My deceased parents were not fortunate enough to grow up in a free society. My father fled the Soviets before finally finding refuge in the United States. My mother's family escaped from the USSR after the Bolshevik revolution and grew up stateless in National Socialist Germany before fled to the United States. Her personal stories ̵
From August 2016 to May 2019, I was US Ambassador to Ukraine. During my tenure in Ukraine, I was on the frontline about ten times during a shooting war: to show the American flag, to hear what was going on (sometimes literally, when we heard the artillery's influence), and to see as we supported dollars were used. I have worked to advance US policy, which is equally welcomed by Democrats and Republicans, in order to help Ukraine become a stable and independent democratic state with a market economy integrated into Europe. A secure, democratic and free Ukraine serves not only the Ukrainian, but also the American people. So it was our policy to help Ukrainians achieve their goals – they have achieved our goals.
The war against Russia
The US is the most powerful country in the history of the world A large part of our values. And our values have enabled the network of alliances and partnerships that underpin our own strength. With a huge land mass and a large population, Ukraine has the potential to be a major economic and political partner of the US as well as a multiplier on the security side. We see the potential in Ukraine. Russia, on the other hand, sees the risk. The story is not written yet, but Ukraine could move out of Russian orbit. And now Ukraine is a battleground for big-city contests with a hot war over control of the territory and a hybrid war over control of the Ukrainian leadership. The US has provided substantial security since the beginning of the war against Russia in 2014. As you know, the Trump administration has strengthened our policy by authorizing the delivery of anti-tank missiles called Javelins for Ukraine. To support Ukraine is the right thing. It's also the smart one. If Russia wins and Ukraine falls under Russian rule, we can expect Russia to make further efforts to expand its territory and influence.
The War on Corruption
As critical as the war against Russia is, the fighting democracy in Ukraine has an equally important challenge: the fight against the Soviet heritage of corruption that the Ukrainian government has penetrated. Corruption makes Ukraine's leaders vulnerable to Russia, and the Ukrainian people understand that. That's why in 2014 they launched the Revolution of Dignity in order to become part of Europe, to demand the transformation of the system and, subject to the reservation of To live the rule of law. The Ukrainians wanted the law to apply equally to all persons, regardless of whether the person is the president or another citizen. It was a matter of fairness, dignity. Again, there is a congruence of interests. Corrupt leaders are inherently less trustworthy, while an honest and accountable Ukrainian leadership makes a US-Ukrainian partnership more reliable and valuable for the United States. In this strategically located country, bordering four NATO allies, there is a level playing field and an environment in which US companies can more easily trade, invest and profit. Corruption is also a security issue as corrupt officials are vulnerable to Moscow. In short, it is in the US national security interest to help Ukraine transform into a country that keeps the rule of law and corruption in check. It was and is one of the top priorities of the US to help Ukraine fight against corruption. Significant progress has been made since the 2014 dignity revolution. Unfortunately, as the last few months have shown, not all Ukrainians have joined our anti-corruption work. So perhaps it was not surprising that the Ukrainians, who preferred to play according to the old, corrupt rules, were taking me away when our anti-corruption efforts obstructed the desire for profit or power. What always surprises me is that they have found Americans who are willing to work with them, and have apparently managed to coordinate the removal of a US ambassador. How could our system be that way? How can foreign corrupt interests manipulate our government? Which country serve the interests when the very corrupt behavior that we have criticized may prevail? Such behavior undermines the US, exposes our friends and expands the field for autocrats like President Putin. Our leadership depends on the power of our example and the consequence of our purpose. Both are now open to questions.
Addressing certain issues
Against this background, I would like to briefly comment on some of the facts that you probably want to ask me about, starting with my chronicle in Ukraine and Ukraine events, about I have firsthand knowledge and not. Events before and after my service in Ukraine I arrived on August 22, 2016 in Ukraine and finally left Ukraine on May 20, 2019. There are a number of events that you investigate and to which I can not bring first-hand knowledge. Among the events that preceded my service in Ukraine were:
- the publication of the so-called "Black Ledger" and
the subsequent resignation of Manafort from President Trump's
- the departure of former Attorney General
Several other events occurred after my return from Ukraine. These include:
- the call of President Trump with President Zelenskiy of July 25, 2019;
- the discussions about this call; and
- All discussions on the delay of security assistance to Ukraine in the summer of 2019.
During my tenure in Ukraine
On events during my tenure in Ukraine:
- I would like First, repeat that the allegation that I was distributing a Do not Prosecute list was a fake. Mr. Lutsenko, the former Ukrainian Attorney-General who made this statement, confirmed that the list never existed.
- I did not tell Mr. Lutsenko or other Ukrainian officials who they should prosecute or not. Instead, I argued for the US position that the rule of law should prevail and Ukrainian law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and judges should selectively use their power as a political weapon against their opponents and deal with everything consistently and lawfully. 19659017] Also false are the allegations that I have told unidentified employees of the embassy or Ukrainian officials that President Trump's orders should be ignored because "he would be charged" – or for any other reason. I did not say that and would not say it. Such statements contradict my training as a Foreign Service Officer and my role as Ambassador.
- The Obama administration did not ask me to help the Clinton campaign, nor harm the Trump campaign, nor would I have taken such steps if you had. Partialness of this kind is not compatible with the role of a career companion in the Foreign Service.
- I never met Hunter Biden and did not have any direct or indirect conversations with him. And although I've met former Vice President Biden several times over the course of our long reign, neither he nor the previous government has ever raised the issue of Burisma or Hunter Biden with me.
- Regarding Mayor Giuliani, I had minimal contacts with him – a total of three. None related to the events in question. I do not understand Mr. Giuliani's motives for attacking me, nor can I give an opinion on whether he believed the allegations he spread about me. Obviously nobody in the Foreign Ministry did it. What I can say is that Mr Giuliani should have known that these allegations were suspicious, as they reportedly came from people with questionable motives, and with the reason for believing that their political and financial ambitions were due to our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine would be affected.
My departure from Ukraine
After Secretary of State for Political Affairs asked me in early March 2019 to extend my tour until 2020, the smear campaign against me entered a new public phase The United States , In the aftermath of the negative press, US Department of State officials proposed an earlier departure, and we agreed on July 2019. Only weeks later, in late April, I was told abruptly that I should return from the Ukraine to Washington on the "next plane" , When I left, Ukraine had just made groundbreaking presidential elections. It was a tricky time, where the US had a lot to do, and all the experience and expertise we needed was needed. When I returned to the United States, Assistant Secretary of State Sullivan informed me that a concerted campaign had taken place against me, that the President no longer wanted me to act as ambassador to Ukraine, and that the President was indeed in favor of me pushed distance since the previous summer. As Mr. Sullivan recently reported during his Senate ratification hearing, neither he nor anyone else has ever explained or attempted to justify the President's concerns about me, nor has anybody in the Ministry justified my premature departure by saying that I am wrong have done. I appreciate that Mr Sullivan publicly confirmed at his hearing that I have served "capable and admirable". Although I always understood then and now that I was serving the President, it is still hard for me to understand that foreign and private interests could undermine US interests in this way. Individuals who appeared to have been impeded by our efforts to promote declared US policy against
corruption, ie to fulfill the mission, were able to successfully conduct a disinformation campaign against a seated ambassador via unofficial channels. As various witnesses reported, they made unfounded allegations to the president and persuaded him to remove his ambassador, even though the State Department fully understood that the allegations were wrong and the sources very suspicious. These events should affect everyone in this room. Ambassadors are the symbol of the United States abroad, the personal representative of the President. They should always act and speak with full authority to work for US policy. If our chief representative is brought to its knees, this restricts our effectiveness in safeguarding the important national security interests of the United States. This is especially important now, when the international landscape is more complicated and competitive than it has been since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Our Ukrainian policy has become disordered and dodgy interests around the world have learned how little it costs to dismiss an American ambassador who does not give them what they want. Which foreign official, corrupt or otherwise, could be held responsible after these events for wondering whether the ambassador represents the president's views? And which US ambassador could be accused of fearing that he can not rely on our government supporting him in implementing US policy and defending US interests?
I would like to comment on another matter before answering your questions. In the closed statement, I expressed great concern about the deterioration of the Foreign Service in recent years and the failure of the Foreign Ministry leadership to back down, as foreign and corrupt interests have apparently abused our Ukrainian policy. I remain disappointed that the Ministry's leadership and others have refused to acknowledge that the attacks on me and others are dangerously wrong. This is about much more than me or a few people. As the experts of the Foreign Service are vilified and undermined, the institution is also degraded. This will do real damage shortly, if not already done. The Foreign Ministry often does not receive the same attention and respect as the Pentagon's military might, but we are – as they say – the "pointed end of the spear". If we lose our lead, the US will inevitably have to use more tools than they do today. And these other tools are less effective, more expensive and not universally applicable. In addition, the attacks are leading to a crisis in the State Department as the political process continues to dissipate, leadership positions are not filled and high-ranking and middle-ranking officials are considering an uncertain future and heading for the doors. The crisis has evolved from the impact on individuals to impact on the institution. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is eroded from the inside in a highly competitive and complex time on the world stage. This is no time to undercut our diplomats. It is the responsibility of the department heads to work for the institution and the people who make it the most effective diplomatic force in the world. And Congress has the responsibility to reinvest in our diplomacy. This is an investment in our national security, an investment in our future. Finally, let me make it clear who we are and how we serve this country. We are professionals, officials who follow the president's guidelines through vocation and education, regardless of who holds this office or with which party they are affiliated. We take care of American Citizen Services, facilitate trade and commerce, raise safety issues, represent the US, and report and advise Washington, just to name a few. And we make a difference every day. We are people who are constantly uprooting our lives, risking our lives for this country – and sometimes giving up. We are the fifty-two Americans who began deprivation, torture and imprisonment for 444 days in Tehran forty years ago this month. We are the dozen or so Americans stationed at our Embassy in Cuba and the consulates in China who were mysteriously and dangerously injured a few years ago, and in some cases even permanently, by attacks from unknown sources. And we're Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Patrick Smith, Ty Woods, and Glen Doherty – people rightly called heroes for their last victim for the country's foreign policy interests in Libya eight years ago. We honor these persons. They represent every one of you here – and every American. These brave individuals were attacked for symbolizing America. What you need to know what the Americans need to know is that, thankfully, most of us are less dramatic in our call for duty, and each foreign service officer takes the same risks. And very often our families too. They serve too. As an individual, as a community, we respond to the call for duty to advance and protect the interests of the United States. We take our oath of office seriously, the same oath that each one of you does "to support and defend the United States Constitution against all enemies at home and abroad" and "to uphold the true faith and faithfulness." I am fortunate to be a Foreign Service Officer, fortunate to be able to offer the best that America has to offer, and who has been blessed to serve the American people for the last 33 years. Thank you for your attention. I am happy about your questions.