July 07, 2016

Kaine, Durbin, Murphy, Shaheen, Boxer Urge President To Make U.S. Support For Ukraine And Eastern Europe A Focus Of Upcoming NATO Summit

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, along with Senators Dick Durbin, Chris Murphy, Jeanne Shaheen, and Barbara Boxer sent a letter to President Barack Obama, urging him to carry a message to world leaders at the upcoming North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Warsaw, Poland: success in Ukraine and resistance to Russian aggression, including through the rotational deployment of NATO troops to Eastern Europe, are in the best interest of all member counties.  A democratic and economically stable Ukraine is ultimately the strongest rebuke to Russia’s provocations.   

“You have been a strong champion of ensuring Ukraine’s future as a democratic and sovereign nation, bolstering NATO preparedness in response to Russian aggression, and maintaining transatlantic unity regarding sanctions against Russia,” the Senators wrote. “Yet amid the brazen failure of Russia to abide by the Minsk Agreement and internal political turmoil within the European Union, it is critical for NATO to reaffirm its support for Ukraine’s success and the fundamental democratic values at stake.

“Ukraine has faced an unprecedented set of challenges while attempting to shake off decades of endemic corruption and mismanagement…Yet, despite these significant challenges, Ukrainians have taken historic steps to reform their economic, political, and judicial systems…Unquestionably it is in American and European interests to see a peaceful democratic Ukraine succeed.

“At the same time, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not only ignored key terms of the Minsk Agreement, but also continued to escalate the conflict and undermine decades of established international norms...[Russia’s] behavior is both reckless and deeply troubling. As such, we applaud your efforts to bolster NATO amid such Russian provocations.  The announcement of a rotational deployment to Eastern Europe along with the tripling of the NATO Response Force helped reassure our NATO partners most vulnerable to Russia.”  

Full text of the senators’ letter:

July 6, 2016

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President: 

We understand that the future security and success of Ukraine will be a prominent topic at the upcoming NATO Summit in Warsaw and write in strong support of this focus.  You have been a strong champion of ensuring Ukraine’s future as a democratic and sovereign nation, bolstering NATO preparedness in response to Russian aggression, and maintaining transatlantic unity regarding sanctions against Russia.  Yet amid the brazen failure of Russia to abide by the Minsk Agreement and internal political turmoil within the European Union, it is critical for NATO to reaffirm its support for Ukraine’s success and the fundamental democratic values at stake.

Ukraine has faced an unprecedented set of challenges while attempting to shake off decades of endemic corruption and mismanagement.  Not only has it pursued long-neglected reforms, but it has had to do so while fighting a costly and ongoing war with Russian-backed separatists.  Yet, despite these significant challenges, Ukrainians have taken historic steps to reform their economic, political, and judicial systems.  They have taken important measures to improve their ties to the West and to meet the terms of the Minsk Agreement.  Moreover, Ukraine’s leaders have notably taken these steps while adhering to fundamental democratic principles. Unquestionably it is in American and European interests to see a peaceful democratic Ukraine succeed.

At the same time, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not only ignored key terms of the Minsk Agreement, but also continued to escalate the conflict and undermine decades of established international norms.  He maintains Russia’s illegal seizure of Crimea and continues provocations against NATO allies, including aggressive military and propaganda strategies, and continues to occupy Georgian territory and support separatists in Moldova.  NATO fighters scrambled 160 times last year to intercept Russian violations of Baltic airspace, up from 140 such incidents in 2014.  Such incursions have not been limited to the Baltics, with NATO jets intercepting Russian jets throughout Europe.  These actions are often enabled by malicious cyber-enabled activities that violate international norms and extend Russia’s reach well beyond the traditional battlefield.  Such behavior is both reckless and deeply troubling.   

 As such, we applaud your efforts to bolster NATO amid such Russian provocations.  The announcement of a rotational deployment to Eastern Europe along with the tripling of the NATO Response Force helped reassure our NATO partners most vulnerable to Russia.  

Your support for military training and supplies for Ukraine has been equally important.  And while not a NATO member, success in Ukraine is certainly in NATO’s interests as well.  We hope you will reaffirm this sentiment at the Warsaw Summit.

Sincerely,

 

RICHARD J. DURBIN

United States Senator

 

CHRISTOPHER S. MURPHY

United States Senator

 

JEANNE SHAHEEN

United States Senator

 

BARBARA BOXER

United States Senator

 

TIM KAINE

United States Senator

 

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