“What kind of country assassinates the opposition leader virtually on the steps of their legislature; puts hits out on citizens who speak out against them, even outside its borders; orders the persecution of government employees; foreign politicians and governments to cyber attacks; sends troops across sovereign borders and generally behaves like a 16th century dictatorship? The answer, of course, is Vladimir Putin’s Russia. … Abroad, the picture is just as bad. Russia commits war crimes in Syria and props up the Assad regime, while threatening NATO and annexing parts of Ukraine.
“… in this amorphous borderless global hybrid war, there is a hard military front line. It stretches from the Baltic to the Black Sea… On this hard military front line, there is an active regional war in Donbas. There the Kremlin is testing the resolve of the democratic West. Will the West sacrifice Ukraine in the hope of satisfying Russian revanchist neo-imperialism in the manner that Czechoslovakia was sacrificed by the West after the invasion of Sudetenland?
“…a resurgent Russia has turned from partner to antagonist. Countries along Russia’s periphery, especially Ukraine and Georgia, are under threat from Moscow’s malign influence and military aggression. “…Moscow intends to re-emerge as a global power, and views international norms such as the rule of law, democracy and human rights as components of a system designed to suppress it. Therefore, Russia seeks to undermine this international system and discredit those in the West who have created it. …
“Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House about the long-awaited motion picture premier of ‘Bitter Harvest’ on February 28 at the Canadian War Museum. This film was inspired by one of the most harrowing genocides of the 20th century, the Holodomor, or genocide by famine, planned and executed by Soviet dictator Stalin against the Ukrainian people in 1932-1933. “ ‘Bitter Harvest’ is the compelling story of dignity, rebellion, and the power of love in the midst of horrific evil as seen through the eyes of a young couple caught up in the midst of Stalin’s genocidal policies. It features such talented Hollywood actors as Terence Stamp and Canada’s own Barry Pepper. It is directed and co-written by Canadians George Mendeluk and Richard Bachynsky-Hoover.
“…The rise of adversaries new and old demands a strong response from all of us. “In the east, NATO has markedly improved its deterrent posture by stationing four combat-ready multinational battalions in Poland and the Baltic states. “In the wake of Russian efforts to redraw international borders by force, rest assured the United States, along with the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany, will continue its leadership role as a framework nation in the Enhanced Forward Presence Initiative, and we will support other critical joint actions to support this alliance. “And with regard to Ukraine, we must continue to hold Russia accountable and demand that they honor the Minsk agreements, beginning by de-escalating the violence in eastern Ukraine. “And know this: The United States will continue to hold Russia accountable, even as we search for new common ground, which, as you know, President [Donald] Trump believes can be found.
“After three years of heroic reforms following the Euro-Maidan, Ukraine has restored macroeconomic stability. The economy is growing again, but far too slowly. The expected growth is 2.5 percent in 2017. But it should swing up to 6 to 8 percent, as it was for eight years in the early 2000s. The key now is more investment.
“In recent days, there has been a sharp spike in violence in Ukraine, and I mourn the loss of eight Ukrainian service members who have been killed in the fighting. The United States needs to stand up for principles. I call upon Russia and its separatist proxies in eastern Ukraine to abide by the terms of the Minsk protocols and immediately cease the violence, which affects so many civilians in the region. “It is incumbent upon the Senate to clearly express its support for the sovereignty of Ukrainian and solidarity with our close allies in Europe. That is why I was glad to work with Sen. [John] McCain and eight other colleagues on a bipartisan basis on legislation to codify existing sanctions into law as well as increase pressure on Russia to comply with its international commitments.
“Fear and weakness are bad advisers. They play into Russia’s appetites, invite even more aggression and greater human suffering. That’s why Ukraine has always advocated a solution based on the national interests and the will of Ukrainians who wish their country to be independent and prosperous, and their choices free of aggressive dictate. “Let us be clear about red lines that no one in Ukraine would dare to cross – not now, nor in the future: No reversal in European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine. This would be a surrender of independence, sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
“Three years after the Revolution of Dignity, the Ukrainian economy has stabilized and is ready for growth. …An unsustainable budget deficit of 10 percent of GDP has now been brought down to about 3 percent of GDP, mainly through cuts in public expenditures. …The government has sensibly reduced the exorbitant payroll tax from 45 percent to 22 percent. Foreign payments have reached balance thanks to a necessary devaluation of the hryvnia, and the exchange rate has stabilized on the market. …
“Friends and colleagues, we meet in Hamburg today to reaffirm the same idea that tied us together in Helsinki 41 years ago: that our collective security is directly linked to the growth of our economies and the protection of basic human rights. “…Our task begins in actions where places of violence and assaults on human dignity persist, even where a clear path to peace is staring us in the face. “…the conflict in the Donbas and the occupation of Crimea have gone on for too long, and at tremendous human cost on both sides of the line of contact. It is in the interests of all concerned to end the suffering and the stalemate, and that is why the United States continues to support France and Germany in their efforts as mediators within the Normandy format. It’s why we strongly back the Trilateral Contact Group of the OSCE, Ukraine and Russia.