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Rep. Pascrell Announces Efforts to Support Ukraine in Face of Russian Aggression

Paterson, NJ, September 4, 2014

Today, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09), a member of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, announced his latest efforts to urge the Administration and leadership in Congress to support Ukraine in their time of need as they face continued Russian aggression inside their borders.

In a letter to House leadership, Pascrell urged Speaker Boehner to act on the Ukraine Security Assistance Act of 2014 (H.R. 5190), legislation Rep. Pascrell helped introduce that would authorize the President to work with the Government of Ukraine to assess that country’s military, intelligence, and security needs and provide adequate and necessary assistance to protect Ukrainian democracy and sovereignty. This week, Rep. Pascrell also joined his colleagues on the House Ukrainian Caucus in sending a letter to House and Senate leadership urging them to invite Ukrainian President Poroshenko to address Congress during his expected visit to the U.S. later this month.

“The Ukrainian military is severely outmatched by the Russian soldiers currently invading their country, and needs our support,” Pascrell wrote in a letter to Speaker Boehner. “Congress must not stand by and let Russia continue this pattern of aggression and flaunting of international norms. It is vital the House act before we recess for the November elections. During the five weeks of recess this summer, Russia’s support for the rebels in Ukraine escalated to a full blown invasion. There is no telling how many lives could be lost or how much further Russia will escalate its invasion if Congress fails to act for another two months.”

The announcement came immediately follow a meeting between Rep. Pascrell and leading Ukrainian American organizations and community leaders. Rep. Pascrell’s represents a large Ukrainian-American population in northern New Jersey, which he has met with numerous times as tensions continued to escalate in Ukraine.

“The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America is very grateful to Congressman Pascrell for all of his efforts to support HR 5190,” said Tamara Olexy, President of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America.  “The Ukrainian Security Assistance Act is very timely given Russia’s invasion and their support of the separatists in Eastern Ukraine.”

The Ukraine Security Assistance Act of 2014, introduced in July by the co-Chairs of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, Reps. Jim Gerlach (R-PA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Sandy Levin (D-MI), would provide a clear and specific process to provide direct military and security assistance to the Government of Ukraine as it seeks to strengthen its democracy and prevent separatist violence and aggression within its borders.

This bipartisan legislation would reinforce the strong relationship between the U.S. and Ukraine and take an important step toward helping Ukraine neutralize the military-support advantage that separatist rebels are using to target civilian and military aircraft in eastern Ukraine and foster violence and instability across that country. H.R. 5190 also calls on President and the Secretary of State to increase defense cooperation between the U.S. Armed Forces and the armed forces of Ukraine.

The full text of the letter follows:

September 4, 2014

Dear Speaker Boehner:

Congress returns from recess next week to a dramatically changed landscape in Ukraine. For months, we have known that the Russian government was providing weapons and support to separatists in Ukraine’s east. Over the past several weeks, Russia has escalated its campaign by invading Ukraine directly. The United States must stand with the people of Ukraine against this aggression and provide them with the ability to defend themselves. To that end, before Congress recesses for the November elections, we must act on legislation giving the President the authority he needs to assist the people of Ukraine defend their country.

The Russian military, one of the world’s largest, had been massing at the eastern border of Ukraine since the crisis began. After the illegal annexation of Crimea, Russia’s clandestine support of separatists groups across Ukraine’s east escalated after the Ukrainian government attempted to reclaim its territory. This support tragically culminated in the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 with Russian provided weaponry, killing 298 people.

However, this tragedy did not deter President Putin. Since mid-August, we have seen undeniable evidence that the Russian military is crossing the border with Ukraine and fighting directly with Ukrainian forces. President Putin has reportedly bragged about his ability to conquer the capital of Ukraine in “two weeks,” if he wanted.

The Ukrainian military is severely outmatched by the Russian soldiers currently invading their country, and needs our support. Congress must not stand by and let Russia continue this pattern of aggression and flaunting of international norms. I am a cosponsor of H.R.5190, the Ukraine Security Assistance Act of 2014, which authorizes the President to provide Ukraine with the equipment they need to defend themselves from this invasion, including weapons, body armor and night navigation equipment. I believe this legislation would be an appropriate starting point for any action you are considering the House take.

It is vital the House act before we recess for the November elections. During the five weeks of recess this summer, Russia’s support for the rebels in Ukraine escalated to a full blown invasion. There is no telling how many lives could be lost or how much further Russia will escalate its invasion if Congress fails to act for another two
months.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,
Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Member of Congress

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