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On Senate floor Shaheen reiterates support for legislation condemning Russian annexation of Ukrainian Crimea

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the former Chair of the European Affairs Subcommittee, spoke on the Senate floor this afternoon to call for passage of S. 2124 which condemns the annexation of Ukrainian Crimea by Russia. The legislation authorizes sanctions against Russian officials who are responsible for violence and serious human rights abuses as well as acts that undermine the peace, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.

The measure would also authorize $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine, assist the Ukrainian government to identify and recover assets stolen by corrupt Ukrainian officials and approve $50 million in aid to bolster democratic governance. The legislation also paves the way for enhanced security cooperation between the United States, Ukraine and other Central and Eastern European nations.

Shaheen voted for the resolution when it cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 12th with bipartisan support, and successfully included an amendment to promote the Ukraine’s long-term stability and prosperity by ensuring the economic and political inclusion of Ukrainian women and their inclusion in negotiations to restore Ukraine’s security and sovereignty. 

Shaheen’s remarks as prepared for delivery are included below:

Senator Jeanne Shaheen

Statement in Support of S. 2124, the Ukraine Aid Bill

March 25, 2014

Madam President, I rise to speak about the unacceptable situation in Ukraine and the steps that I believe are necessary to support Ukraine during this challenging time.

Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea marks the first time that one European nation has seized territory from another since the end of World War II.  Now, President Putin may be preparing to go farther, continuing his military buildup along Ukraine’s Eastern border. 

Russia’s actions in Crimea fly in the face of the basic principles of sovereignty that have underpinned security in Europe and around the world for decades, the United States and the international community must stand with Ukraine and reaffirm our commitment to Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity.

This moment is a test for the international community. 

It tests whether the nations of the world can respond in a unified way to support Ukraine and check Russia. 

It will also test whether members of Congress can overcome political differences and leave partisanship at the waters’ edge. 

I believe that we can, and we will rise to the occasion. 

We had a very good vote last night and hopefully that will continue as we take up the pending legislation.

First, we should provide Ukraine with much-needed economic assistance, that is why I strongly support the legislation that is before us.

This legislation authorizes the Administration to extend $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine.

Second, Congress needs to continue to push the Administration to impose costs on Russia for its illegal and escalatory actions. 

I applaud yesterday’s decision by the G-7 nations to cancel their participation in the upcoming Sochi summit, to suspend Russia’s participation and to convene energy ministers for talks to strengthen our collective energy security. 

And the latest round of U.S. and EU sanctions are another very important step; however, Congress must continue to explore options for additional bipartisan sanctions legislation, and the Administration should be aggressive in responding to Russian provocations using the authorities we give them.

Third, we need to demonstrate support for our other allies and partners in the region who are threatened by Russia’s expansionist agenda. 

NATO has already taken some commendable actions in the past week, deploying additional aircraft and early warning systems, and reinforcing its commitment to Poland and our Baltic partners.  

This is a significant moment for Ukraine, for Europe and for the United States. 

It is imperative that we do our part to help the people of Ukraine secure the bright, independent future they deserve. 

The people of Ukraine and of Ukrainian descent—be they in Kyiv or in Manchester, New Hampshire— are watching and counting on our support. 

Our European allies are watching and are counting on our continued leadership. 

Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, is watching and counting on our acquiescence. 

So let us be committed and resolute. 

Let us stand together in support of the people of Ukraine. 

Let us start by passing this important legislation.

I yield the floor.