Biden marks Ukraine Independence Day: 'The people of Ukraine have refused to break'

Biden marks Ukraine Independence Day: 'The people of Ukraine have refused to break'

'Americans all across the country stand united with the people of Ukraine,' says US president

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) - US President Joe Biden hailed Ukraine on Thursday as the war-torn nation marks its independence from the Soviet Union, saying the Ukrainian people "have refused to break" in the face of Russia's onslaught.

"Brave Ukrainian women and men are defending Ukraine from assaults on fundamental principles essential to every nation on the planet – sovereignty and territorial integrity. They are showing the world once more that freedom is worth fighting for," the president said in a statement.

"As Putin continues his brutal war to erase Ukraine’s independence and redraw the map of our world by force, Americans all across the country stand united with the people of Ukraine," he added, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Biden pledged to maintain US support for Ukraine and said Washington will continue to marshal international partners in Kyiv's defense while acting to hold Russia responsible for alleged war crimes.

"We are also working with nations everywhere to hold Russian forces accountable for the war crimes and other atrocities they have committed in Ukraine. That includes the forcible removal of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia. These children have been stolen from their parents and kept apart from their families. It’s unconscionable," he said.

Biden's comments come as the State Department announced new sanctions against Russia for what it said is the Kremlin's forced deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.

In all, 13 people and entities are being placed on the agency’s blacklist for their alleged involvement in the scheme, including Muslim Huchiev, the prime minister of the Chechen Republic, Mansur Soltaev, the republic's human rights commissioner and Galina Pyatykh, an advisor to the governor of Russia's Belogrod region and commissioner for children's rights.

Other entities are being sanctioned for running Russian patriotic "re-education camps" where children are transferred after being forcibly deported.

"As we join you in celebrating more than three decades as an independent country, we also mourn with you remembering your sons and daughters who have given their lives in defense of your country. We stand by you in the fight for your beloved country," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement marking Ukraine's Independence Day.

"It is because of you and your resilience that Ukraine will prevail, and Russia will pay a high price for what it has done. The United States will continue to stand with you and work with our Allies and partners to ensure Ukraine has what it needs to defend itself, to recover, and to thrive," he added.

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