Richard Nixon photo

Toast at a Dinner in Kiev

May 29, 1972

Mr. Chairman of the Presidium and all of the distinguished guests here this evening:

I first express appreciation for the eloquent remarks of the Chairman and I will respond to those remarks somewhat briefly because I had the opportunity to speak at some length on television last night.

But tonight I would like to address my remarks particularly to this city and particularly to the Ukraine--a city and a republic that has meant so much to the Soviet Union and so much to the world.

We had a very difficult time selecting the cities we would visit on this trip to the Soviet Union. In consulting with Ambassador Dobrynin, he, of course, said that we must spend most of our time in Moscow for our official talks; and then, logically, it was necessary, too, and we welcomed the opportunity, to return to Leningrad, the second city of the Soviet Union.

Then we said to Ambassador Dobrynin, "What should be the third city?" And he answered, "The mother of all Russian cities, Kiev." And so we come here for the first time and we are glad that we came.

We are glad to have enjoyed this wonderful dinner, these fine wines that are the product of this very rich country. We are glad, too, to have the Opportunity to know some of the people of the Ukraine-a people who are world famous for their warmth, for their strength, for their courage.

As I think of a way to describe our feelings on this occasion, I noted that in history--and this city is so full of history-in the 11th century a golden gate was created in the Ukraine, in Kiev. So, in a way, we can say that Kiev is the City of the Golden Gate.

In America we have a city, San Francisco, that is called the City of the Golden Gate. Many of our friends who have visited America believe that San Francisco is our most beautiful city. But at the turn of the century it suffered a great tragedy, a tragedy not of war but of what is next to war--an earthquake followed by fire which virtually destroyed the city.

And the pessimists said this city would never come back. They were wrong, because they failed to recognize the spirit of the people of the City of the Golden Gate on the western coast of California.

Then we think of this city--a city with a much older golden gate. We think of the enormous tragedy that was visited upon it during the war, the destruction of buildings and, of course, even more tragic, the destruction of human life on an unprecedented scale.

I am sure that there were people then who said that the city of Kiev would never come back because of the destruction that was wrought upon it by war.

My friend on my right, who is an engineer, said there were some who said it would take 50 years to rebuild this city.

But, again, the pessimists were wrong, because they did not reckon with the spirit, the strength, the courage, the determination of the people of the Ukraine and the people of Kiev.

So, not in 50 years, but in 7 years, the city was rebuilt and the Republic of the Ukraine continues to grow and to prosper.

So, for that reason, on this particular evening, which is the last occasion that we will be having dinner on Soviet soil, we think it is very appropriate that it should be here in this mother of all Russian cities, here in the Ukraine among a people who are so strong and who represent such a great spirit.

So in responding to the toast, the very eloquent toast of the Chairman, I would simply say we should drink tonight to the heroes who fought in war and the heroes who have rebuilt this city in peace and, we trust, to the new leadership to which our two countries, the Soviet Union and the United States, may contribute, by which the world may have a period in which the tragedy of war will never again be visited upon this city or any other city like it in the world.

I would ask you to raise your glasses, then, to the heroes of the Ukraine in war and in peace.

Note: The President spoke at 10:35 p.m. in Marlinsky Palace at a dinner hosted by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet and the Government of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. He spoke from a prepared text.

Richard Nixon, Toast at a Dinner in Kiev Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Soviet Union

Simple Search of Our Archives