Congressman Brendan Boyle Urges President Obama to Visit Ukraine

The Editors:

June 27, 2016
In The News

Congressman Brendan F. Boyle and the Ukraine Caucus Co-Chairs, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, Congressman Sander Levin and Congressman Michael Fitzpatrick led a letter to President Obama urging him to visit Ukraine prior to the end of his term. Fifteen members of the U.S. House of Representatives joined in on signing the letter in support. This bipartisan effort underscores that a visit by President Obama to Ukraine would highlight and enhance the strategic partnership between the two countries, as well as enhance the strong cooperation needed to implement reforms in Ukraine.

“During President Obama’s term, the Ukrainian people have endured tumultuous times from the Maidan Revolution, the annexation of Crimea by Russia and the invasion of Eastern Ukraine,” said Congressman Boyle. “A visit by President Obama would represent an important symbol that the United States continues to stand with the people of Ukraine and lead the international community in support for the peace, security and freedom that they deserve.”

This letter expresses the commitment of the Congress to work with President Obama on continued support for Ukraine.

Carly Frame | Legislative Assistant
118 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Office: 202.225.6111
U.S. Congressman Brendan Boyle (PA-13)

­

published 28 June 2016: News Summaries

SENATE CONFIRMATION HEARING FOR NEW AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE

The Editors:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Washington, DC (UNIS) – The Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) held confirmation hearings on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 for several nominees for ambassadorial posts throughout the world. On the docket were nominees for Lithuania, Ukraine, and Greece – Anne Hall, Marie Yovanovitch, and Geoffrey Pyatt, respectfully. The nominees were greeted by SFRC Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) and Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD) who thanked them for their public service to the country. Each nominee proceeded with an opening statement about their anticipated role in the respective countries and how to bolster and enhance the bilateral relationship.

continue reading SENATE CONFIRMATION HEARING FOR NEW AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE →

published 23 June 2016: News Summaries

Cardin, Colleagues Encourage European Council to Extend Russian Sanctions

The Editors:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 20, 2016

CONTACT
Sean Bartlett 202-224-4651
Sue Walitsky 202-224-4524

Cardin, Colleagues Encourage European Council to Extend Russian Sanctions

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, led five of his bipartisan colleagues Monday in a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, urging the Council to roll over sanctions on Russia. The co-signers are U.S. Senators Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). The text of the letter follows:

Dear President Tusk:

We write to urge the European Council to roll over EU sanctions on Russia this month. According to the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) weekly reports, at least 122 Ukrainian military personnel have been killed and more than 700 have been injured since the announcement of a September 1, 2015, ceasefire. Russia has not implemented other aspects of the Minsk agreements, including – but not limited to – the withdrawal of all heavy weapons and allowing unfettered, safe access to the OSCE SMM. It is essential that the U.S. and the EU maintain transatlantic solidarity in the face of Russia’s blatant disregard for its Minsk commitments and continued illegal occupation of Crimea.

There has been a surge in cease-fire violations in recent weeks. Combined Russian-separatist forces have increased their attacks and have resumed firing destructive 152mm artillery that is prohibited under the Minsk agreements. Under the Minsk II agreement of February 15, 2015, all heavy weapons were to be withdrawn within 15 days. In contravention of the agreement, on June 4 and 5, the SMM reported 15 multiple launch rocket systems and multiple surface-to-air missile systems in separatist-controlled territory. This follows a June 2 report of an unusual build-up of heavy weapons and personnel carriers in Donetsk and Luhansk cities, including 24 tanks in Donetsk city alone.

Further, combined Russian-separatist forces continue to deny access to OSCE monitors who are tasked with monitoring the ceasefire, and they have engaged in violence against the SMM and the downing of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, and OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier issued a joint statement on April 12 in which they concluded “incidents against SMM monitors, as reported by the Mission in recent days, are unacceptable and that those responsible for threatening and using force against civilian monitors must be held accountable.” Mr. Zannier condemned the June 2 downing of the SMM’s last remaining long-range UAV, saying that the SMM was subject to a “deliberate effort to blind it.”

Constant attacks by combined Russian-separatist forces have forced Ukraine to close crossing points at the line of contact in order to protect civilians from shelling. Restrictions on international aid organizations by combined Russian-separatist forces prevent food, medicine, and other humanitarian goods from reaching people in need. In addition, Russia must release those it is holding in violation of Minsk, including Stanislav Klikh, Mykola Karpyuk, Akhtem Ciygoz, Oleg Sentsov, Aleksander Kolchenko, Yuriy Soloshenko, Olexandr Kostenko and all other Ukrainian citizens it has wrongfully imprisoned.
Sanctions relief is tied to Russia’s progress implementing the Minsk ceasefire agreements. Given the severity of Russia’s ongoing violations and continuing aggression against Ukraine, including its occupation of Crimea in complete contravention of international law and norms, we urge the European Council to extend sanctions against Russia until it fully complies with its international commitments.

Sincerely,
Benjamin L. Cardin
John McCain
United States Senator
United States Senator
Richard J. Durbin
Rob Portman
United States Senator
United States Senator
Jeanne Shaheen
Ron Johnson
United States Senator
United States Senator
Damian Murphy
Senior Professional Staff Member Europe/South and Central Asia
U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee
(202) 224-4651

published 20 June 2016: News Summaries

Dying for the Donbas: A Reply to Alexander Motyl

The Editors:

By Kirk Bennett

In a recent article entitled Dying for the Donbas? Prof. Alexander Motyl, one of the most perceptive analysts of the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War, decried the continued loss of Ukrainian soldiers, even at a comparatively reduced rate since a ceasefire of sorts took hold this past winter. The lives of young Ukrainians, he argued, are being wasted in the vain pursuit of a ruined, worthless swath of Russian-held land in Ukraine’s southeast – a region, I would add, that was heavily subsidized even in peacetime, and is now thoroughly devastated not only by warfare, but by poor governance. Would it not make more sense, Prof. Motyl reasoned, to write off this territory, whose three million remaining inhabitants are implacably hostile to the whole Ukrainian national endeavor, and thereby spare the lives of Ukrainian soldiers? “The sad truth,” he maintained, “is that these poor young men are being sacrificed for nothing.”

Prof. Motyl’s proposal is rational, sensible and deeply humanitarian. Unfortunately, it is also flawed.

continue reading Dying for the Donbas: A Reply to Alexander Motyl →

published 4 June 2016: News Summaries

Putin on the Prowl

The Editors:

By Congressman Tom Cole

The world has rightfully taken notice of Russia’s role in the violence that is visibly escalating in the Middle East at the hands of ISIS. However, that unrest is not the only cause for international concern. More than two years after Russia forcibly annexed Crimea, it maintains a violent and aggressive presence in East Ukraine. With behavior that chillingly harkens back to the Cold War era, it is becoming increasingly clear that Russia won’t stop trying to forcibly broaden its territorial reach in an effort to reclaim its superpower status. Russia is again a very real threat to the United States and our NATO allies.

continue reading Putin on the Prowl →

published 26 April 2016: News Summaries