CHICAGO — U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) issued the following statement after joining with Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, to discuss the crisis in Ukraine with members of the Ukrainian-American community in Chicago this afternoon:
“It’s long overdue for the United States and our allies to empower Ukraine with meaningful assistance to defend itself against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine and its illegal occupation of Ukrainian territory. While the Ukrainian people desperately want to stand up for themselves against Putin’s geopolitical bullying, Western democracies aren’t doing enough to support Ukraine’s right to self-determination.”
Senator Kirk is Vice Co-Chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, which was founded by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) in February 2015 to strengthen the political, military, economic and cultural relationship between the United States and Ukraine.
Senator Kirk is a strong supporter of Ukraine’s right to self-determination. On February 3, 2015, he signed a bipartisan letter urging President Obama to rapidly increase military assistance to Ukraine to defend its sovereign borders. He also co-sponsored the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, which was signed into law in December 2014 and authorizes U.S. lethal military and non-military assistance to Ukraine while imposing broad sanctions on Russia’s defense, energy and financial sectors.
Also today, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove spoke at the German Marshall Fund Brussels Forum where he told the audience that Moscow continues to back separatists in Eastern Ukraine with economic and military support. General Breedlove said that this conclusion was based on evidence gained by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s joint intelligence unit in the United Kingdom.
“We continue to see disturbing elements of air defense, command and control, resupply and equipment coming across a completely porous border,” he said.