Feb 18 2015

Statement by Senators Graham and McCain on the Fall of Debaltseve to Russian-Backed Separists

Contact: Kevin Bishop (864) 250-1417 or Lorcan Connick (202) 224-5972

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and John McCain (R-Arizona) today released the following statement on the fall of Debaltseve to Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists:

"The fall of Debaltseve to Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists should be all the evidence we need to proclaim the failure of the recent ceasefire agreement in Ukraine. Since yesterday, this delusional piece of paper has done nothing to stop the death of dozens more Ukrainian soldiers and the surrender of more of Ukraine's sovereign territory to Vladimir Putin and his proxies.

"Putin has achieved his military objectives in Debaltseve, and I fear that Western leaders, rather than facing the harsh reality of Russian actions, will allow Putin to claim that he is abiding by the terms of the ceasefire. In reality, he will use the weeks and months ahead to consolidate his latest gains, to continue arming and training his proxy army, to destabilize the Ukrainian government and economy, to try to divide the transatlantic alliance, and to prepare for his next military offensive, which will likely occur in Mariupol. Persisting with the illusion of a ceasefire will only give Putin the cover he wants to plan his next act of aggression inside of Ukraine.

"And yet Western leaders, including the President of the United States, continue to cling to any available excuse not to provide defensive arms and other much-needed military assistance to the Ukrainian government. As President Obama continues to ‘consider' lethal assistance, Putin continues to act with lethal force to achieve his military objectives in Ukraine.

"Ukrainians have the will to resist this aggression, and are not asking anyone to do their fighting for them. They only ask that the defenders of democracy to give them the means to resist the onslaught of a dictator. Shame on us for failing them."