30 years of continued U.S. assistance under the FREEDOM Support Act

Female doctor pointing at lung X-rays with patient standing next to her (USAID/Bohdan Vilshanskyi)
The U.S. has been delivering vital supplies to tuberculosis patients in Ukraine since the end of the Cold War. Above, a TB patient reviews lung X-rays with his doctor in Ukraine. The photo was taken prior to Russia's February invasion of Ukraine. (USAID/Bohdan Vilshanskyi)

Thirty years ago, the U.S. government embarked on an ambitious plan to support people emerging from decades of totalitarian Soviet rule at the end of the Cold War.

The 1992 FREEDOM Support Act (FSA) spurred invaluable projects and relationships with European and Eurasian citizens and governments that continue today.

The FREEDOM Support Act’s 30th anniversary comes at a time when the United States and Western allies provide steadfast support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s aggression.

“Among the most important legacies of the FSA are the networks of civil society organizations that work tirelessly to keep the light of democracy shining even in the most restrictive and repressive environments,” said Karen Donfried, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs.

FREEDOM Support: A U.S. milestone

FREEDOM is an acronym for Freedom for Russia and Emerging Eurasian Democracies and Open Markets. The legislation authorized the United States to provide assistance to the 12 newly independent states of the former Soviet Union to build free markets and democratic systems in the region.

The U.S. Congress passed the FREEDOM Support Act with overwhelming bipartisan support. When President George H.W. Bush signed the legislation in October 1992, he said:

“I am proud that the United States has this historic opportunity to support democracy and free markets in this crucially important part of the world. While it is clear to all that the future of the new independent states of the former Soviet Union is in their own hands, passage of the FREEDOM Support Act demonstrates the commitment of the United States to support this endeavor.”

Woman wearing winter coat and gloves in vineyard while holding clippers (USAID/Colby Gottert)
The U.S. has supported Moldova’s export wine industry since 2010. Above, Silvia Ganciariuc works in the fields, pruning grapevines at Moldova’s Mircesti Winery. (USAID/Colby Gottert)

A few tangible examples of the FREEDOM Support Act’s impact assistance in the last 30 years include:

  • Operation Provide Hope: This State Department humanitarian program coordinated with the Department of Defense and U.S. private voluntary organizations to provide medical equipment and supplies and and other humanitarian materials to the 12 newly independent states of the former Soviet Union.
  • Tuberculosis treatment in Ukraine: A counter-TB project by the U.S. Agency for International Development delivered equipment and diagnostics in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine, increasing by fourfold the speed of treatment for TB patients in 2016.
  • Moldova wine market support: Since 2010, USAID and other U.S. government agencies have contributed to Moldova’s export wine industry through start-up investment, agricultural improvements and innovation in production, increasing the quality of exported wine. The industry now employs as many as 200,000 Moldovans out of the country’s population of 2.6 million.