A bipartisan letter was sent on March 4, 2015, to President Barack Obama, urging him to approve lethal defensive aid for Ukraine in light of a recent ceasefire agreement.
The letter was signed by Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio); House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.); Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.); Rep Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee; Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas); Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), ranking member of the Armed Service Committee; Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.); Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.); Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rodney P. Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.); and State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-Texas).
The letter underscored Congress’s bipartisan majority support for Ukraine from the beginning of the conflict, and how the struggle is “more than a Russian assault on the independence and sovereignty of Ukraine,” more than an attempt by Russia “to redraw international borders and impose its will on its neighbors,” in violation of international law, he said, which poses a challenge to the West and serves as an assault on the international order since World War II.
The authors reminded President Obama of President Petro Poroshenko’s address to the Joint Meeting of the United States Congress on September 18, 2014. In the address, Mr. Poroshenko thanked the Congress for its bipartisan support, but more importantly, “words alone do not beat back aggression and violence,” highlighting how Ukraine’s neighbors warn against a lack of vigilance.
Congress approved the Ukraine Freedom Support Act in December 2014 to provide defensive military systems to the Ukrainian government. However, the law was pending a signature from the White House. “We should not wait until Russia troops and their separatist proxies take Mariupol or Kharkiv before we act to bolster the Ukrainian government’s ability to deter and defend against further aggression,” the letter added.
There was need, on the part of the White House, to appear to coordinate its moves with European and NATO allies, but the letter writers urged President Obama to: “lead Europe in challenging this assault on international order, lest our foreign policy be held hostage by the lowest common denominator of European consensus. In the face of Russian aggression, the lack of clarity on our overall strategy thus far has done little to reassure our friends and allies in the region who, understandably, feel vulnerable. This needs to change. …We urge you in the strongest possible terms to use those authorities and resources to meet the specific and direct requests the government of Ukraine has made of your administration.”
Source: “Bipartisan group of House leaders supports lethal defensive aid for Kyiv,” The Ukrainian Weekly, March 15, 2015.