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ICYMI: Shaheen & Portman Urge Biden Administration to Support Aircraft Transfers to Ukraine from Eastern European Allies

Shaheen and Portman have led action in the U.S. Senate in support of Ukraine in response to Vladimir Putin’s belligerence.

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, and U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Co-Chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, sent a letter yesterday afternoon to President Joe Biden, urging the administration to support aircraft transfers to Ukraine from Eastern European allies.

The Senators wrote, in part, “In a conversation with President Zelenskyy this morning, he conveyed the dire circumstances the Ukrainian people face due to Russia’s wanton bombardment of cities and critical infrastructure… The United States has led a historic effort to support the Ukrainian Armed Forces, but we must continue to find opportunities to assist Ukraine in defending their land from the Russian invasion.”

Shaheen and Portman have led action in the U.S. Senate in support of Ukraine in response to Vladimir Putin’s belligerence against Ukraine, which also threatens the stability and security of Eastern Europe and NATO allies. Last month, Shaheen led a successful bipartisan effort with Portman to pass a resolution that conveys a renewed and overwhelmingly bipartisan message from the U.S. Senate in fierce support of the United States’ Ukrainian partners. In January, Shaheen and Portman led a bipartisan delegation to Ukraine, where they met with President Zelenskyy and members of his administration. Shaheen also participated in the Munich Security Conference and a congressional delegation visit to Poland last month.

The Senators’ letter continued, “Nine days into this war, the Ukrainian Air Force continues to bravely fly and resist the Russian advance. Despite flying older and fewer aircraft than the Russian fleet, the Ukrainians continue to contest the airspace over Ukraine, providing invaluable support for Ukrainian ground forces and preventing Russians from having a permissive environment to lay siege to Ukrainian cities. However, the costs of their bravery have been high and the size of their aircraft fleet has diminished. The Ukrainian Air Force is in dire need of additional aircraft to replace combat losses and continue defending the skies over Ukraine.”

The Senators concluded their letter, “We strongly urge you to continue working alongside our allies to explore all feasible options to expedite the urgent transfer of aircraft to the Ukrainian Air Force. Time is of the essence and the Ukrainian Armed Forces desperately need the aircraft that our allies may be willing to provide, if given the appropriate reassurances. We are committed to providing additional authorities and appropriations at your request to finance such transfers in support of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”

Senator Shaheen has long led efforts in the Senate to hold Russia accountable for its malign activity against the U.S. and its allies. Because of her role as a negotiator on Russia sanctions legislation known as “CAATSA” and her successful efforts to ban Kaspersky Lab software from operating on U.S. systems, Shaheen was sanctioned by the Kremlin in 2017. Before the Shaheen-Portman congressional delegation visit to Ukraine in January, Shaheen led a bipartisan group of lawmakers to Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, last June. Shaheen issued a joint bipartisan statement with Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) last week marking the fourth anniversary of the Senate NATO Observer Group, which they re-established together and currently serve as co-chairs.

Shaheen and Portman’s letter can be read in full here.