Members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee wrote a letter to President Obama on Friday, urging him to assist Ukraine with “peaceful, democratic transition” even as Russia attempts to use “provocative tactics” to undermine the region.
“We do not seek confrontation with President Putin and his government, but simply to ensure that Russia abides by its commitments and adheres to core principles of international law,” the letter stated. “A peaceful, democratic, stable, and sovereign Ukraine is in our national interest.”
The letter was signed by a number of Democrats and Republicans, all members of the Foreign Relations Committee.
While cautious in its language, the letter did offer harsh criticism of Russian foreign policy, which the senators wrote “too often relies on the use of intimidation and fear to achieve its aims, as exhibited by Russia’s provocative actions along Ukraine’s border in recent days.”
In recent days, unidentified armed men (believed by many to be Russian forces) have seized key areas in Ukraine’s Crimea, leading the country to accuse Russia of an “armed invasion.”
“We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside Ukraine,” Obama said in a speech from the White House earlier today. ” … There will be costs for any intervention in Ukraine.”
Here’s the full letter:
Dear President Obama,
We write in support of the administration’s efforts to help Ukraine to consolidate democratically elected government, preserve its territorial integrity, and enjoy the freedom to exercise a sovereign decision to sign and implement an Association Agreement with the European Union.
The courage and determination of ordinary Ukrainians in the face of sustained repression and violence to defy an unresponsive and corrupt government has given Ukraine a chance for a better future. The United States has an important, fundamentally positive role to play. We note and welcome our Administration calling on all actors to refrain from violence to ensure the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Both Secretary Kerry and National Security Adviser Susan Rice have correctly warned Russia that military intervention in Ukraine would be a “grave mistake.”
However, through its actions and rhetoric, the Russian government is aggressively acting to exploit regional, cultural, and linguistic schisms to actively undermine Ukraine’s unity. Moscow’s goals appear to be two: destabilize the Ukrainian government while it struggles to cope with former President Yanukovych’s corrupt mismanagement of their economy; and use provocative and dangerous tactics to extend their control on the ground.
In 1994, the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia jointly signed the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, which committed Russia to recognise the independence, sovereignty, and existing borders of Ukraine and, explicitly, to not engage in economic coercion. The United States has a responsibility to see that these commitments are respected and to use all necessary diplomatic and, if required, punitive measures in concert with the European Union. By manipulating the price of natural gas and blocking commerce with its neighbours — including Ukraine — in contravention of its World Trade Organisation obligations, Russia has already patently violated these commitments. Now it seems that Russian coercion is expanding beyond the economic sphere.
We do not seek confrontation with President Putin and his government, but simply to ensure that Russia abides by its commitments and adheres to core principles of international law. A peaceful, democratic, stable, and sovereign Ukraine is in our national interest. There must be no question about our commitment and clarity of purpose in this regard. This clarity should extend to our allies, such as Poland and Lithuania, but also partner countries like Georgia and Moldova that continue to reform themselves in a way that is in contrast to Russia’s growing domestic repression. Russian foreign policy too often relies on the use of intimidation and fear to achieve its aims, as exhibited by Russia’s provocative actions along Ukraine’s border in recent days.
We are prepared to work with your Administration to reinforce your efforts by authorizing U.S. loan guarantees to Ukraine and increasing assistance to facilitate a peaceful transition of power. We also believe that the U.S. should make use of the tools at its disposal, including targeted sanctions; and asset recovery targeting corruption, to dissuade individuals who would foment unrest to undermine Ukraine’s territorial integrity or employ coercive economic measures against the Ukrainian people and the new Ukrainian government.
We are gravely concerned about the future of Ukraine and are committed to working with you to support a peaceful political transition that serves the interests of the Ukrainian people who have demanded that their voices be heard.
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