On November 20, 2014 Senator Portman asked for and was granted permission to address the United States Senate concerning Russia, in a very interesting speech where he alleges Russia violated the recent ceasefire and broke the Budapest Memorandum…
“Mr. President, I rise today to call this body’s attention to a crisis that grows more alarming every day, and that is the continued Russian encroachment into Ukraine. It has been over 2 months since the Ukrainian Government entered into a ceasefire agreement with Russian-backed separatists in southeastern Ukraine. It is an agreement that the separatists have repeatedly violated, and since it came into effect hundreds–hundreds–of Ukrainian soldiers have died in battle against these same separatist forces.
The Ukrainian people want peace, but these insurgents and their patrons in Moscow are not interested. Every day they grow more aggressive and bolder in their violations of the Ukrainian territory and their willingness to subvert the international order.
I know there are some in this body who would say this is not our problem, it is thousands of miles away, and not our concern. Some people may think it doesn’t matter which flag flies over the territory. I have a different view. To me, what happens in Ukraine is very much in our interests. It is in the interests of all who value liberty and the right to choose one’s own future. The stakes are very high, and the consequences of inaction are devastating. To those who ask why is this important, let me bring up several points.
First, it is in America’s interest to uphold our traditional commitment to supporting democracy around the world and the right of a people to choose their own destiny. When the Soviet Union fell and the people of Eastern Europe took back the liberty that had been stolen from them decades before, the United States made a solemn promise: Embrace democracy, freedom, transparency, and the rule of law, and we will embrace you.
The Ukrainian people made their choice. They did so on the 24th of August, 1991, when an independent Ukraine ceased to be a dream and became a reality. They reaffirmed that commitment over a decade later when the Orange Revolution swept a corrupt government from office. And earlier this year in the face of Russian threats, intimidation, and aggression, they did so again. I saw that commitment firsthand earlier this year when I had the honor of leading a Congressional delegation with my colleague from Maryland, Senator Cardin, to monitor the Ukrainian Presidential election. Senator Cardin and I saw the spirit of the Ukrainian people and their determination to honor the memory of brave men and women who had given their lives in the fight for a free and independent Ukraine. That fight continues today.
But this fight is about more than just Ukraine. Failing to honor our commitment to the Ukrainians will have real consequences that extend to other national security priorities for the United States of America. When Ukraine emerged as an independent nation after the Cold War, it inherited the world’s third largest stockpile of nuclear weapons. As a newly independent State looking to ensure its sovereignty and territorial integrity, Ukraine could have relied on its nuclear arsenal to ward off would-be aggressors. They made a different decision. Instead of pursuing this dangerous path, they sought and received assurances from the international community that its borders would be respected if it gave up its nuclear weapons.
In 1994, the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, and Ukraine signed the Budapest Memorandum in which all sides pledged to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity, refrain from using military force or economic pressure to limit Ukrainian sovereignty, and provide assistance to the Ukraine if it became the victim of aggression from another nation.
Clearly Russia has broken its part of that agreement. Now the question is whether we are breaking ours. If we do break our word, what will the impact be on American counter-proliferation efforts around the world? How can any nation we seek to prevent from developing nuclear weapons ever trust U.S. security assurances if they see the carnage and destruction in Ukraine, if they see this as being the result of trading nuclear weapons for American guarantees?
More than just the credibility of U.S. counter-proliferation efforts is at stake here. Events in the Ukraine are a direct challenge to the entire U.S.-led international order. U.S. economic and military power was the glue that kept the Western alliance together through the challenges of the Cold War and formed the foundation of an international order based on universal values and standards of conduct that has led to unprecedented global prosperity and stability. This in turn has produced a period of U.S. economic growth and security unrivaled in our Nation’s history. Confidence in America’s willingness to use our unmatched capabilities to uphold this system deters potential challengers and incentivizes other countries to play by the rules, which prevents us from actually having to use them.
America’s commitment to uphold this system is incredibly important. If the credibility of this commitment is in doubt, then the stability and openness upon which U.S. economic prosperity and national security depend is jeopardized and the chance for violence, instability, and economic collapse increases.
By the way, the Russian Government knows all this. President Putin, who famously declared the collapse of the Soviet Union to be “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century,” knows that his dream of building a new Russian empire out of the ashes of the Soviet Union requires establishing Russian dominance over its newly independent neighbors, many of whom–like Ukraine–want closer integration with the West, not Russia. To accomplish this goal, Moscow must shatter this political, economic, military, and ideological credibility of the Western system. Russian aggression against Ukraine today or Georgia back in 2008 is as much about demonstrating the emptiness of U.S. and Western guarantees as it is about control of these individual countries, in my view. The conflict in Ukraine is the latest escalation of this trend, one that will continue until the United States and its allies say firmly, “This shall not continue.”
The President keeps saying that “there is no military solution to this conflict.” The President may think so, but Moscow certainly does not. The direct Russian military involvement in Ukraine has been on full display for the world to see for months. In previous times it may have been easier to keep these movements out of sight, even as President Putin does his best to suppress a free press. But we are fortunate to have reporters willing to document what they see for all the world to witness.
Here are a few examples in the media from recent days. This is a picture of a Russian-made T-90 main battle tank in the Luhansk Oblast of Ukraine recently. This T-90 tank, by the way, is a very sophisticated Russian tank.
Do you know who owns these T-90 tanks? Here are the countries: Algeria, Azerbaijan, India, Turkmenistan, and Russia. I think it is safe to say that these tanks didn’t drive from South Asia or from North Africa. They came from Russia, and they are in Ukraine.
Here is a picture of a Sukhoi-24 attack fighter reportedly taken in Russia. You will see painted on the tail the flag of the pro-Russian separatists. Not many people are aware of reports that Russia is helping to create a separatist air force, but we must wake up and realize the extent to which Russia is determined to trample on Ukraine and the global order to achieve its ends. In the last couple of days there have also seen reports of significant movement of Russian aircraft to the Ukrainian border.
These are just a few examples of the Russian armored personnel carriers, artillery, tanks, air defense systems, electronic warfare units, and thousands of Russian troops that NATO reports say have moved into Ukraine over the last several weeks. According to the Ukrainian analysts, Russian and separatist forces have been organized into mobile strike groups and have completed reconnaissance of Ukrainian positions in preparation for an all-out assault. Barely a day has gone by since the signing of the so-called ceasefire in September where Ukrainian troops haven’t come under attack, as separatists probe Ukrainian defenses looking for an opening. Since the beginning of the conflict, conservative estimates have put the number of Ukrainian soldiers killed or wounded at roughly 4,000.
By the way, at least another approximately 5,000 civilians have been killed or wounded in the fighting.
We shouldn’t be afraid to call this exactly what it is. This is part of a Russian invasion. We saw it in Crimea; we are now seeing it in other parts of Ukraine.
Two months ago the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, spoke here before a joint session of Congress. We were all there. It was a poignant speech, a powerful speech, and one from the heart. There is a line in that speech that I think stood out. In speaking about the aid we have sent to Ukraine and thanking us for that aid, President Poroshenko said, “One cannot win the war with blankets. Even more, we cannot keep the peace with a blanket.”
And he was right. Blankets won’t stop this tank we saw earlier. Blankets won’t stop bullets. Blankets won’t protect Ukrainian children from Russian artillery shells.
We don’t know a whole lot about what the United States has provided to the Ukrainians, but I will get to that in a moment. We are having trouble getting that information from the administration. But we know a few things. We know we have given them blankets, sleeping mats, military rations, medical kits, and body armor. This is the majority of what we have been providing, as far as we know, to the Ukrainian military. I know the Ukrainians are grateful for these items. But when you compare this to the Russian involvement, the differences are startling. Here is what we provided to the Ukrainians. Here is the Russian support being provided to the separatists. I am proud of the hard-working Ohioans—-
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator has used 10 minutes.
Mr. PORTMAN. While I am proud of the hard-working Ohioans in Cincinnati and elsewhere who are making these rations, and the folks in Heath who produce these helmets, they know as well as I do that this equipment doesn’t constitute deterrence, especially not when Ukrainians are facing advanced Russian equipment and troops.
May I ask unanimous consent for an additional 3 minutes?
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection it is so ordered.
Mr. PORTMAN. Thank you.
I don’t mean to downplay the importance of the economic, political, and humanitarian aid we have provided. Indeed, there are many economic and political reforms the Ukrainians will need to make in order to secure long-term peace and prosperity. But how can Ukrainians be expected to make these difficult but necessary reforms if it cannot control its own borders or maintain law and order? There is a military dimension to this crisis we simply cannot ignore any longer.
Moscow continues to believe that military force is a viable option to achieve its goals. Unless the United States and its allies help the Ukrainians prove otherwise, we shouldn’t expect any change in its behavior. Ukraine needs anti-tank weapons to defend against armored assaults; it needs modern air defense systems to defend against Russian air superiority; it needs unmanned aircraft to monitor its borders and to detect violations of its sovereignty and the ceasefire. It needs secure communications gear to prevent Russia from accessing Ukrainian plans and troop locations. It needs advanced counter-battery radar to target the artillery batteries responsible for so many of the casualties in the conflict. It needs elite rapid reaction forces capable of responding to Russian border provocations and the fast-moving asymmetric “hybrid war” tactics the Russians use to destabilize the country.
Therefore, they also need training. The Ukrainians have asked for this support, and we should provide it.
Most importantly, Ukraine needs a sustained commitment from the United States and our NATO allies to provide both the quality and the quantity of equipment necessary to preserve its independence. This is not a partisan issue. Leading Democrats in the Senate, such as the Chairmen of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, Senators Levin and Menendez, as well as Senator Cardin and others, have joined in calling for increased assistance, including defensive weapons. Yet the President and some of his top advisers continue to stand in the way of meaningful action for fear of provoking Russia, as if the tanks streaming into Ukraine or the daily clashes aren’t evidence enough that American restraint has not had the desired effect on Russian activity and policy.
It is well known by now that the President has refused to adopt policies that actually provide Ukraine with the capabilities needed to change the situation on the ground. What is less well known is whether the administration is even fully committed to fulfilling the objectives of its own already limited policies.
For all the talk we have heard about the President and his steadfast support for Ukraine and the $116 million in security assistance the United States has promised to deliver, we know almost nothing about how these policies are actually being implemented. This administration has been a black box when it comes to getting even the most basic information on our efforts to aid Ukraine. Despite multiple requests, including a letter to the President from Senator Cardin and me, we still can’t seem to get answers on fundamental questions: What equipment has been delivered to Ukraine? How long will it take to deliver the equipment we have promised but not delivered? What is the process for determining what capabilities to provide? How does the equipment we have agreed to provide support the capabilities they have requested? How do our assistance efforts fit into a comprehensive strategy?
This complete lack of transparency on the day-to-day implementation of U.S. assistance raises questions about the underlying policy guidance driving it and whether the administration actually has far more modest goals than the President’s public rhetoric would suggest. For example, a bipartisan assessment, conducted by GEN Wesley Clark, Retired, and former top Pentagon official Dr. Phillip Karber, and featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other major newspapers, revealed that the Obama administration has issued extremely restrictive instructions on the type of nonlethal aid the United States could provide. The lack of this aid has created real problems for the Ukrainians.
The fact is that no one in Congress knows how these regulations will be applied. This is a huge problem and stands in the way of a coherent and effective policy.
Yesterday the President’s Deputy National Security Adviser testified that strengthening the Ukrainian forces is “something we should be looking at.” While this is a welcome change of tone, we should be well beyond the point of just looking at it, in my view, because every day we delay, every day we dither, every day we match Russian action with half-measures and self-imposed limitations, Moscow is emboldened and the danger grows.
I am convinced that a piecemeal, reactionary response to intimidation from Moscow is a recipe for failure. Instead, we must have a comprehensive, proactive strategy that strengthens NATO, deters Russian aggression, and gives Ukraine the political, economic, and military support it needs to maintain its independence. We need a strategy that seeks to shape outcomes, not be shaped by them.
Much of that leadership must come from the White House, but this body also has a role to play. We should include funding for Ukrainian military assistance in upcoming spending bills. We should pass the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, which would authorize the assistance Ukraine needs today. We should pass legislation that will reduce Ukraine’s–and all of Europe’s–reliance on Russia for its energy resources. And we should pass legislation to ensure that the United States never recognizes Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.
The need for action could not be more clear. Through his aggression in Ukraine, President Putin and Moscow are sending a message to Ukraine and to the world that America and the West are indecisive and weak and that their guarantees of support are meaningless. The Ukrainian people have rejected that message, choosing instead the path of democracy and openness–a path the United States has urged the Ukrainians and also the world to follow. We and our NATO allies must now stand with them.
When America is strong, when we stand unequivocally for freedom and justice, when we don’t back down in the face of threats and intimidation, that is when we see a world that is more stable, less dangerous, and more free. That is because we stand with our allies.
More wars, more conflicts, more threats to our security–these do not arise from American strength; these arise from American weakness. Let’s be strong again. Let’s lead again. Let’s help Ukraine. The world is watching.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.”
Source: Congressional Record
See war footage video: War in Ukraine Bloody battles for the South East / Война в Украине Кровавые бои за Юго Восток http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJAUbrh9mrE
See video: Combat in Ukraine http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yE5fgE_dko8