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WASHINGTON — In a speech to the Senate, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today reiterated that the United States stands with Ukraine and neighboring countries against the increase of Russian aggression. During his speech, Durbin reflected on the contributions of Ukrainian-Americans such as Sgt. Michael Strank, a Marine who fought in World War II and one of Iwo Jima’s flag raisers. Durbin also condemned Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s actions, including continued belligerence against NATO allies in the Baltics and Poland.
“The Ukrainian people have been clear: they want to be free and independent, they want to chart their own future, they want to choose their own leaders in the elections they organize,” Durbin said. “This is the future that more than 92% of Ukrainians chose in a referendum in 1991, after Ukraine declared independence from the crumbling and corrupt Soviet Union. But Russian President Vladimir Putin, the former KGB agent, refuses to recognize Ukraine’s right to exist, its right to independence and its right to self-determination.
Durbin, co-chair of the Senate’s Baltic Freedom Caucus, went on to say that an invasion of Ukraine would also disrupt peace with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies and neighboring countries. This week, Durbin and Senator Grassley led 17 of their Senate colleagues to introduce a bipartisan resolution to celebrate 100 years of diplomatic relations with the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The resolution also reaffirms US commitment to NATO amid growing Russian aggression in Eastern Europe, which he noted in his speech.
Durbin continued, “Whether Putin is driven by megalomaniacal illusions of restoring the Soviet Union or simply seeks to create chaos and sow dissension among NATO allies is unclear. But here is what is clear: a Russian invasion of Ukraine would constitute a serious aggression not only against Ukraine, but also against the institutions and agreements that have maintained peace in Europe for almost 75 years. A Russian invasion of Ukraine could also be seen as a danger to our NATO allies in Poland and the brave young Baltic democracies of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. That would be a catastrophic mistake on Putin’s part.
Durbin then reaffirmed the administration’s and US Senate’s support for Ukraine. He welcomed legislation being drafted by Senators Menendez and Risch, chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that will impose tough sanctions on Russia for any further invasion of Ukraine.
“I commend President Biden, Secretary of State Blinken and their teams for their strong support for Ukrainian independence and the fight against Russian aggression,” Durbin continued. “The Biden administration has provided significant military equipment to our Ukrainian friends to ensure that President Putin knows the cost of another invasion. The administration has also strengthened the defense capabilities of our NATO partners by Poland and the Baltic countries.
Durbin concluded, “Seventy-seven years ago, a Ukrainian-born U.S. Marine raised the American flag on Iwo Jima. Today, a generation of young Ukrainians brought up in freedom hold high the yellow and blue flag of their own nation and say: we too want to be free. Our message to them is very simple and direct: you are not alone. »
Video of Durbin’s speech is available here.
Audio of Durbin’s speech is available here.
Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available here for TV channels.
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