A coalition of advocates and stakeholders on October 29 sent a letter to Congress calling for an increase in U.S. economic, military and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine. This informal coalition brings together a diverse group of organizations seeking to help protect and support Ukraine’s emerging democracy in the face of Russian-backed insurgents, an economy under pressure and millions in need of humanitarian assistance. The letter was addressed to Thad Cochran, chairman, and Barbara Mikulski, ranking member, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate; Hal Rogers, chairman, and Nita Lowey, ranking member, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of Representatives. The full text of the letter follows.
The ongoing crisis in Ukraine – its courageous efforts to reform while resisting Russian aggression and its attempts to secure a transformation to an independent, democratic, economically vibrant nation – demands immediate expansion of U.S. support. We, the undersigned, include representatives of more than 22 million Americans of Central and East European descent who firmly believe bolstering Ukraine’s security and independence is vital to ensuring Central and Eastern Europe’s security, prosperity and freedom.
We urge immediate action on a comprehensive U.S. aid package to help the people of Ukraine address priority economic, security and humanitarian relief needs. Based on our knowledge of the situation, we believe this package should include:
• $3 billion in economic assistance: comprising loan guarantees, direct budget support grants or debt swaps, as well as assistance to support reforms in key sectors, such as banking, judiciary and energy, and to encourage investment in Ukraine.
• $1 billion in military equipment and training support, including defensive lethal assistance as required by the Ukraine Freedom Support Act.
• A minimum of $200 million in additional immediate humanitarian aid to meet the funding gap identified by the U.N. Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) as Ukraine grapples with 1.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and over 5 million persons – including 1.7 million children – in need of immediate assistance.
• Increased resources to support independent media facilitating delivery of free media content to Russian speakers, and empowering non-governmental actors with a proven track record to counter Russian propaganda.
Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is a strategic threat to the United States and Europe, particularly the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. In addition to its hybrid war in Ukraine and continued occupation of territories in Georgia, the Kremlin has engaged in provocations against the Baltic states, such as kidnapping an Estonian intelligence officer from Estonia, ongoing dangerous aerial and maritime incursions around the Baltic Sea – including interfering with the laying of electrical cable between Sweden and Lithuania in Lithuania’s economic zone of the Baltic Sea – and continuous threats by Russia’s military just short of aggression. Russia’s plan for a military air base in Belarus is another stark example. Other neighbors, especially non-NATO countries, are very nervous about Putin’s bellicose actions. By helping Ukraine defend itself and succeed as a democratic nation, we also assure protection of the region.
In the wake of Russia’s invasion and occupation last year of Crimea and large portions of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, Ukraine’s stability and its sovereign role in Europe are under siege. The difficulties faced by the government in addressing the needs of its people are likely to be compounded in the coming winter months, which could have grave consequences if not addressed immediately.
The expanded support outlined above will demonstrate America’s enduring support for ensuring a free and independent Ukraine. It will also send an important message to the nations of Central and Eastern Europe that the United States will stand resolutely against intimidation and in defense of a rules-based international system among nations. As Ukraine President Poroshenko recently stated before an audience of students at Columbia University, “We need your assistance; we need your help.”
American Center for a European Ukraine
American Hungarian Federation
American Latvian Association
Armenian Assembly of America
Estonian American National Council
Georgian Association in the U.S.A.
Hungarian American Coalition
Joint Baltic American National Committee
Lithuanian American Community, Inc.
New International Leadership Institute
Polish American Congress
Slovak League of America
Ukrainian Congress Committee of America
U.S.-Ukraine Business Council
Volya Institute for Contemporary Law And Society
Copies of this letter were sent to: Sen. Lindsey Graham, chairman, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, ranking member, Senate State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee; and Rep. Kay Granger, chairwoman, State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee.