Zelenskyy to receive Ronald Reagan Freedom Award

Zelenskyy to receive Ronald Reagan Freedom Award

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute has announced it will bestow its Ronald Reagan Freedom Award to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for resisting Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s invasion of his country.

“We’re honored to give Zelenskyy the award and hope to do so in person after he’s victorious over Putin,” foundation Executive Director John Heubusch told The Washington Times. “If Ronald Reagan were alive today, there’s no doubt he’d jump at the chance to give it personally to Zelenskyy for all the courage he’s displayed.”

Reagan supported Ukrainian independence from the former Soviet Union during his presidency.

That record provides a “what would Reagan do” example that could guide President Biden’s foreign policy today, Mr. Heubusch added.

“The Reagan Foundation’s position is that when good meets evil, we should always fight for freedom,” Mr. Heubusch said. “In this particular case, there’s absolutely no doubt that President Reagan would support Zelenskyy in whatever way he asked.”

Fred Ryan, chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees, delivered a letter announcing the award Monday morning to Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S., during a meeting at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington.

“The world applauds President Zelenskyy and all that he stands for — democracy, individual liberty, freedom, and hope,” Mr. Ryan said in a statement. “These are the values and principles that Ronald Reagan fought for all his life and what his foundation promotes today.”

The foundation, which funds the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California, said it is still deciding how to give the award in person to Mr. Zelenskyy, who remains under siege by Russian forces in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

Russia late last month began military operations in Ukraine, which had been part of the Soviet Union before it collapsed in 1991.

Mr. Zelenskyy, who has been president of Ukraine since May 2019, will be the 11th recipient of the Reagan Foundation’s award.

Reagan bestowed his first Freedom Award on Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader who laid the groundwork for the fall of communism in Russia, at the Reagan Library in 1992.

Mr. Heubusch said it’s significant that Mr. Zelenskyy is receiving the award 30 years later.

“Gorbachev was known for having dismantled the Soviet Union,” he said. “Now, the irony is that it’s going to be President Zelenskyy, fighting a tyrant who’s trying to glue the Soviet Union back together. This is an important moment in history.”

Other past winners include Secretary of State Colin Powell, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Jordanian King Hussein I, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, President George H.W. Bush and Polish President Lech Walesa.