Bipartisan group of senators introduces comprehensive Russia sanctions legislation

WASHINGTON – Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, led a bipartisan group of senators on January 10 to introduce comprehensive sanctions legislation on Russia for their cyber intrusions, aggression, and destabilizing activities here in the United States and around the world. The original co-sponsors of the Countering Russian Hostilities Act of 2017 are: Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio). “Russia has worked to insidiously interfere with and influence the presidential election in the United States, and Russian military aggression in Ukraine and Syria has violated international commitments and shown a clear disregard for sovereignty and humanitarian norms. Our comprehensive sanctions package being introduced today will send a clear message to Vladimir Putin that he has gone too far, and that there will be consequences for his actions,” said Sen. Cardin. “Every American should be alarmed by Russia’s brazen attack on our democracy,” said Sen. McCain.

European allies of U.S. warn Trump about “new grand bargain with Russia”

WASHINGTON – A group of 17 decision-makers and public figures from countries across Central and Eastern Europe sent a letter on January 9 to U.S. President-elect Donald J. Trump warning him about any potential “new grand bargain with Russia.”

According to a news story in The Washington Post, they wrote: “Have no doubt: Vladimir Putin is not America’s ally. Neither is he a trustworthy international partner. Both of the presidents who preceded you tried in their own ways to deal with Russia’s leadership in the spirit of trust and friendship. Big mistake: Putin treated their good intentions as opportunities.”

“Russia’s continuing efforts to destabilize Ukraine, and its illegal annexation of Crimea, threaten the peace, predictability and security that Americans and Europeans created together through our victory in the Cold War,” the letter-writers pointed out. “As your treaty-bound allies, we appeal to Americans in the new U.S. Administration and Congress to stand firm in the defense of our common goals and interests: peace, Atlantic strength, and freedom,” the pro-American leaders stated.

Poroshenko on 25th anniversary of Ukraine-U.S. diplomatic relations

KYIV – “Since the recognition of the independence of Ukraine, the United States have remained a reliable and strategic partner of Ukraine at bilateral level and within international organizations,” President Petro Poroshenko stated on January 3. In his greetings on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Ukraine and the United States, Mr. Poroshenko noted: “A true democratic partnership has been established between the two states, in the framework of which the United States continues to provide invaluable practical assistance in the development of state institutes, civil society, market economy and security reinforcement of our country.”

“Having abandoned the third [largest] nuclear arsenal in the world and a large volume of traditional weaponry, as well as the stockpiles of highly enriched uranium, Ukraine plays a historic role in the enhancement of global stability and nuclear non-proliferation regime. These have been tough decisions, but Ukraine made them relying on the assurances and security guarantees of foreign partners, first of all, the U.S.A.,” the Ukrainian president said. Mr. Poroshenko expressed special gratitude for the constant bipartisan support of the U.S. for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity during these difficult times of Russian aggression, when the Ukrainian state is defending the key principles of freedom and democracy that laid the foundation for the success and strength of the American people. The president emphasized Ukraine’s firm resolve to further facilitate its strategic partnership with the U.S. with a view toward enhancing comprehensive constructive cooperation in the political, security, economic and humanitarian spheres.

Statement protesting Russia’s repressions of Ukraine’s citizens

Following is the full text of the statement by Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued on December 29, 2016, regarding repressions against citizens of Ukraine by the Russian Federation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine expresses its resolute protest to the Russian Federation in connection with the ongoing repressions, illegal detentions, searches, arrests, tortures and ill-treatment towards the citizens of Ukraine. Despite the repeated calls by Ukraine and the international community demanding the immediate release of the illegally detained and sentenced Ukrainians, the Russian leadership continues its shameful practice of using Ukrainians as hostages of its aggressive policy against our country. Cynical disregard of fundamental human rights and freedoms transformed law enforcement and the judicial system of the aggressor state into repressive and punitive tools that foster the formation of the totalitarian regime in Russia. The aggressor state continues to ignore its obligations under the Minsk agreements on the exchange of hostages and illegally detained persons by the principle “all for all.” Though six prisoners have returned to Ukraine, their total number has not decreased but increased: now we have information on at least 17 Ukrainians who are being kept under politically motivated reasons on the territory of the occupier.

President Petro Poroshenko awards the Order of Freedom the Order of Prince Yaroslav to the Wise to Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Poroshenko presents state awards to Sens. McCain and Graham

KYIV – President Petro Poroshenko met on December 30 with the delegation of the U.S. Senate headed by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). The delegation also included Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). The president awarded Sen. McCain the Order of Freedom and presented the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise to Sen. Graham for their significant personal contributions to the enhancement of relations between Ukraine and the United States. Mr. Poroshenko emphasized the importance of traditional bipartisan support for Ukraine in the U.S. Congress and noted that the delegation included representatives of both parties.

Senators call for stand against Russian aggression, support for NATO and Ukrainian sovereignty

Urge increased political, economic and military support for Ukraine

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), co-chairs of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, on December 8 led a bipartisan group of 27 senators to call on President-elect Donald Trump to continue America’s tradition of support for the people of Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. “In light of Russia’s continued aggression and repeated refusal to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereign right to choose its own destiny, we also renew our call for the United States to increase political, economic and military support for Ukraine,” the senators wrote. “This includes defensive lethal assistance as part of a broader effort to help Ukrainians better defend themselves, deter future aggression, and implement key structural reforms.”

They added, “Similarly, we believe that Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea should never be accepted, nor should we lift sanctions imposed on Russia for its behavior in eastern Ukraine until key provisions of the Minsk agreement are met.” The full text of the senators’ letter follows.  

President-elect Donald J. Trump

Trump-Pence Transition Team

1717 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20006

Dear President-elect Trump,

As members and friends of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, advocates for a strong U.S.-Ukrainian relationship and backers of NATO, we write to convey strong, bipartisan support for Ukraine in the United States Senate.

25th anniversary of the recognition by Canada of Ukraine’s independence

The statement below was released on December 2 by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. Today marks the 25th anniversary of Canada’s recognition of Ukraine’s Independence. On December 1, 1991, the people of Ukraine were asked, “Do you support the Act of Declaration of the Independence of Ukraine?” as was adopted by Ukraine’s Parliament on August 24, 1991. For centuries, the Ukrainian people struggled, fought and spilled their blood for the simple, sacred dream of living free on their own land. For the unalienable right to choose, as a free people, their own future, speak their own language, foster their own culture and traditions.

On the human rights situation in Crimea

Following is the text of the U.N. Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol (Ukraine), adopted on November 15 by the General Assembly’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural). The vote was 73-23, with 76 abstentions. As noted by the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the United Nations, “The approved resolution is an important diplomatic, political and legal mechanism by which Ukraine protects the rights of citizens of Ukraine on the territory of temporarily occupied Crimea. The approval of the resolution is planned at the plenary meeting of the U.N. General Assembly in December 2016.”

Ukraine’s Mission also underscored: 

“For the first time in official documents of the U.N., the Russian Federation is recognized as an occupying power and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as a temporarily occupied territory. In addition, the resolution confirmed the territorial integrity of Ukraine and reaffirmed the non-recognition of annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula.

UWC calls for worldwide support of campaign “Condemn Russia’s Crimes in Ukraine and Syria”

The following statement and appeal was issued by the Ukrainian World Congress on November 19. The Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) condemns the military actions of the Russian Federation in Ukraine and Syria including the ongoing build-up of troops, weaponry and aircraft in this region. Emboldened by some wavering on the part of the international community regarding sanctions against the Russian Federation in response to its illegal occupation of Crimea and hybrid war on the territory of eastern Ukraine, the Russian Federation continues to escalate its military involvement in the war in Ukraine and Syria in an effort to continue bolstering its imperialist ambitions. It is critical for the international community to understand the parallels between the Russian Federation’s military actions in Ukraine and Syria, including the indiscriminate targeting of innocent civilians, humanitarian aid convoys and hospitals. The UWC calls upon its network of community organizations to support the media campaign launched by the Public Diplomacy Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine titled “Condemn Russia’s Crimes in Ukraine and Syria” designed to reinforce the message that Russian aggression endangers peace and stability in the world.

UCCA on U.S. relations with Ukraine

The statement below was released by the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America on November 11. Ukrainian Americans are united in their support for the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine. As Americans, we believe that a democratic and independent Ukraine is in the national security interests of the United States. With a new administration looking to take a fresh approach to foreign policy, the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, the largest grassroots representation of Americans of Ukrainian descent, has reached out to President-elect Donald Trump with a letter of congratulations urging him to fortify relations with Ukraine while reinforcing international principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. Towards this goal, we urge policy-makers of both national parties to move forward with the following actions.