U.S. Embassy Kyiv
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U.S. Embassy Kyiv

Colonel Wofford Reflects on How the U.S.-Ukraine Defense Partnership Has Strengthened

Читати українською

Colonel Thomas Quinn Wofford, U.S. Embassy’s Defense Attache 2017–2020

The Embassy community will be sad to say farewell this summer to Colonel Thomas Quinn Wofford, who has led the U.S. Embassy’s Defense Attache Office for the past three years. Today, he reflects on his time in Ukraine and on our bilateral defense partnership.

It’s been an honor to lead the U.S. Embassy’s Defense Attache Office for the past three years, working alongside both Americans and Ukrainians to strengthen our bilateral defense partnership. Ukraine is at the front line of Russian aggression against the West, and the strength of our defense relationship is vitally important to both U.S. and Ukrainian national security.

These past few years have certainly not been easy ones for Ukraine. Russia continues to blatantly violate international norms and laws, occupying sovereign Ukrainian territory. Brave Ukrainian soldiers continue to perish and suffer grave injuries as a result of Russia’s aggression in the Donbas. Far too many Ukrainians have faced unjust detention by Russian forces, including the 24 Ukrainian sailors captured in fall 2018 near the Kerch Strait, who returned home after spending almost 10 months incarcerated by Russia.

U.S. Military Aid To Ukraine, 2017–2020

Yet through these brutal and unjust circumstances, the Ukrainian military and people have stood strong and resilient. It has been a true honor, one I will never forget, to work alongside my Ukrainian military counterparts, who have demonstrated tremendous bravery and patriotism.

Long after I depart Kyiv, I will look back fondly on the memories of getting to know Ukrainian soldiers serving in Volnovakha and Bakhmut and hearing about why they signed up to defend their democracy; of seeing U.S. and Ukrainian sailors participate side by side in Sea Breeze naval exercises that strengthened our defense capabilities; of seeing U.S. and Ukrainian soldiers exchange best practices at the training facility in Yavoriv; of seeing U.S. and Ukrainian fighter aircraft flying together over the Ukrainian countryside.

I will also remember the hundreds of students all across Ukraine I had the opportunity to meet and speak with and know they are proudly moving Ukraine forward toward Euro-Atlantic integration. The future is in your hands.

Colonel Thomas Quinn Wofford, U.S. Embassy’s Defense Attache 2017–2020

And I know that after I depart, the United States will continue to stand firmly with the people of Ukraine against Russia’s illegal aggression. We will never recognize Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea and we will continue to impose costs on Russia as long as it continues its aggression in both Crimea and the Donbas.

The United States also will continue to support Ukraine in its NATO aspirations. Ukraine has made significant progress toward NATO interoperability during my time here and has provided valuable contributions to NATO’s operations, including recent airlift efforts. I congratulate Ukraine on becoming a NATO Enhanced Opportunity Partner. I know my colleagues will continue to work with the Ukrainian government on further reforms to strengthen Ukraine’s defense institutions.

This was not my first time serving in Ukraine. My son has lived in Ukraine almost as long as he has lived in the United States, and has lived in Kyiv longer than he has lived anywhere else. Although I am sad to be leaving Ukraine, I know I will be back.

I look forward to seeing the U.S.-Ukraine partnership continue to grow and flourish. Slava Ukraini!

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U.S. Embassy Kyiv

U.S. Embassy Kyiv

Embassy of the United States in Ukraine