Thursday, February 2, 2017

Despite President Trump’s doubtful support for any legislation critical of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, several elected officials have stood up against Russia’s global threats and aggression.
Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) today responded to the news that Trump has eased sanctions on Russia imposed by President Obama in the wake of cyberattacks during the 2016 election, warning that such a move would bolster Putin’s illegal occupation of Ukrainian Crimea.
“After the worst escalation in two years by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, the Trump Administration has inexplicably decided to reward this behavior by easing sanctions imposed on Russia for their cyberattacks here in the United States,” Pascrell said. “This move will only strengthen Mr. Putin’s grip on Crimea, emboldening his decision to destabilize the region and contribute to the thousands of civilian deaths in Ukraine. The Congress must hold hearings and quickly respond by passing legislation to tighten sanctions on the Russians and prevent any further weakening by this Administration.”
Pascrell said for someone like Trump, who “purports to be the ultimate dealmaker,” lifting sanctions prematurely is “raw deal.” The Congressman said President Trump should stand up for American allies like Ukraine, “not cozy up to those who have meddled in our elections and continue to cause chaos around the world.”
Also today, Congressional Ukrainian Caucus Co-Chairs, Reps. Andy Harris (R-MD), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Sander Levin (D-MI), issued the following statement on the escalation of Russian military assault against Ukraine.
“We call on Russia-controlled separatists to immediately stop the violence in Eastern Ukraine, honor the ceasefire, and withdraw heavy weapons. We reaffirm our support for the Minsk accords, and stand in strong opposition to all efforts that would encourage military action against Ukraine. 
“As Co-Chairs of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, we are deeply concerned with loss of life and the deteriorating humanitarian condition in Avdiyivka, in eastern Ukraine, since heavy fighting broke out on January 28. According to Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), at least eight people have died in the last three days, and 17,000 civilians, including 2,500 children, do not have access to water, electricity, or heat in below freezing temperatures. With each continued day of fighting, their condition becomes more dire.

“The United States must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our European allies and with the Ukraine people, who have demonstrated time and again their will for a sovereign and democratic country, free from Russia’s interference. We strongly urge Russian authorities to respect human life and abide by the ceasefire.”