Ukrainian Caucus House and Senate members express solidarity with Ukraine
December 24, 2021
CINCINNATI, OH – Following a videoconference today with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and more than 20 members of the House and Senate to discuss the security situation in Ukraine, US Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), co-chair of the Ukrainian Senate caucus, issued the following statement:
“Today we had the opportunity to hear directly from President Zelenskyy about the ongoing accumulation of Russian troops along the Ukraine-Russia border and to express our strong solidarity with the people and democratically elected government of Ukraine. During the call, President Zelenskyy discussed the Russian threat to its borders, appreciation of US military aid and its strong opposition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
“As co-chair of the Ukrainian caucus, I have worked closely with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support Ukraine – diplomatically, militarily and economically. Now, as Russia positions more than 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border, threatening the freedom and territorial sovereignty of our ally, we must support Ukraine.
“The Ukrainian army has made great strides in its increased skills and professionalism. It is a seasoned force that has benefited from four years of material support and training from the United States and is ready, if necessary, to defend the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
“As we discussed during the call today, our commitment to support Ukraine was underscored recently when Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Law for FY2022 which increased our military support. through Ukraine’s Security Assistance Initiative. The initiative has been extended until 2022 and its funding has increased from $ 250 million in fiscal 2021 to $ 300 million next year, with at least $ 75 million specifically earmarked for assistance. lethal. The funds are used to help train, equip and support the Ukrainian armed forces in their efforts to defend their independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity against Russian aggression. The United States must continue to increase the amount of lethal defensive military weapons it sends to Ukraine and tailor it to the threat it will face so that Ukraine can better defend itself.
“We also discussed the recent ceasefire negotiated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in the Donbass and the possibility of a diplomatic dialogue that could lead to improvements in the security situation in Ukraine. . As the United States and Russia move closer to convening talks on Ukraine and other issues, President Zelenskyy stressed that any future discussion on Ukraine’s future must include Ukraine.
“I will continue to urge the Biden administration to immediately impose sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The certification of this pipeline is a serious threat to Ukraine because it gives Russia the possibility of delivering natural gas to it. ‘Europe without passing through Ukraine. Moreover, Russia will use the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to demand geopolitical concessions from Europe, as it has already done with the government of Moldova and refusing to alleviate the current energy crisis.
“We also talked about democratic reforms in Ukraine. In addition to our continued support for Ukraine, I am encouraged by the efforts of President Zelesnkyy and other Ukrainian leaders to continue to promote further reforms to better position Ukraine for integration into the EU and the NATO. We must force Russia to respect its international commitments, including those which promised Ukraine territorial sovereignty and independence. President Putin’s demands for a broad dialogue to restore the security situation in Eastern Europe must not be acknowledged when they are formulated at the end of the barrel. I strongly urge the Biden administration to begin increasing military assistance, including lethal assistance, to our allies. Russia must know that any offensive military action it takes against Europe will be costly.
“Seven years ago, during the Revolution of Dignity, Ukraine and its people opposed their Russian-backed leaders and turned to the West. They chose to support us. Now the United States must stand by their side.