Mar 06 2014

Graham, Ayotte on Latest Developments in Ukraine

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire) today made this statement on latest events in Ukraine. Graham and Ayotte are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"The Administration's decision to bolster NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission by sending additional troops and F-15s, along with refueling capabilities, to eastern Europe is a step in the right direction. Further, the Administration's decision to use an Executive Order to deny visas to those responsible for the attempted annexation of Ukraine is a positive step. We believe these actions should have been taken earlier, but better late than never.

"We strongly encourage the Administration to move forward with plans to freeze the assets of those responsible for the Russian invasion of Crimea and move to suspend Russia's membership in the G-8 and the G-20. The Administration should also work with our partners to hold the G-7 outside of Russia and to ensure Putin is not invited.

"We fear that the Russians are engineering a fraudulent election in Crimea in a transparent attempt to legitimize Russia's violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

"The Russian invasion of Crimea is a clear violation of the 1994 agreement between Russia and Ukraine where Ukraine turned over all nuclear weapons to Russia in return for Russia agreeing to honor all territorial sovereignty.

"While we understand Russia has real interests in Ukraine, Russia's actions in Crimea amount to a blatant disregard for international law and Russia's prior commitments. If Putin's actions in Crimea are permitted, it will set a dangerous global precedent that will damage international stability and U.S. national security interests. The U.S., working with our international partners, must make clear that Putin will incur increasingly severe diplomatic and economic consequences if he does not end his aggression in Ukraine.

"Putin is not the only one watching to see how America and our allies respond. Iran, Syria, North Korea, and others are watching. The outcome in Crimea will have far-reaching consequences for U.S. national security."