Press Releases

Bipartisan coalition urges funding consistent with Ukraine Freedom Support Act

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio today joined a bipartisan group of 13 senators in sending a letter to Senate appropriators urging them to allocate funding for the purpose of providing defensive weapons to Ukraine. In December, the president signed into law the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, which authorizes funding for the U.S. to provide defensive weapons to the Government of Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. The letter asks the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee to provide funding consistent with the law.

In addition to Rubio, the letter was signed by Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mike Rounds (R-SD), John Cornyn (R-TX), James Risch (R-ID), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK).      

The full text of the letter is available below:

March 10, 2015

Senator Thad Cochran  
Chairman 
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Room S-128, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20510     

Senator Barbara Mikulski
Vice Chairwoman
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Room S-128, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Cochran and Vice Chairwoman Mikulski,

We write today to request that the Appropriations Committee appropriate funding, consistent with the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014 (H.R. 5859; P.L. 113-272), for the purpose of providing defensive weapons to Ukraine.

The Ukrainian people and their elected government are engaged in a desperate struggle to defend their country against better-armed Russian-backed separatists.  Following the February 12, 2015, “Minsk II” ceasefire agreement, separatists—with support from the Kremlin—laid siege to the strategically important city of Debaltseve.  There are concerns that the port city of Mariupol may be next.

The flagrant violation of the February 12, 2015, ceasefire by President Putin-backed separatists requires a strong response from the United States and the West.  On February 25, 2015, General Philip Breedlove, the Commander of Supreme Allied Command, Europe and U.S. European Command, said, “More than 1,000 pieces of Russian military equipment have been transferred into Ukraine, including tanks, armored personnel carriers, heavy artillery pieces and other military vehicles and equipment…These are not the actions of a good faith negotiating partner.”

There is growing bipartisan consensus within Congress, the administration, and among former officials—such as Zbigniew Brzezinski, Madeline Albright, and George Shultz—that the United States should provide defensive weapons to Ukraine.  While these weapons would not allow Ukraine to outmatch the Russian military, they would enable Ukraine to better defend itself and increase the costs of President Putin’s aggression in Ukraine.  By increasing costs for President Putin’s aggression, it would discourage future aggression in eastern Europe that could even more directly threaten U.S. national security interests. 

We fully support the authorization provided under the Ukraine Freedom Support Act to provide defensive weapons to the Government of Ukraine.  Congress can send an important message to Ukraine, the Kremlin, and the world by appropriating the authorized funding in accordance with the law.

Thank you for your consideration of our request and for your leadership on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Sincerely,

Kelly Ayotte

Richard Blumenthal

Thom Tillis

Sherrod Brown

Mike Rounds

John Cornyn

Marco Rubio    

James Risch

Roger Wicker    

Cory Gardner

Orrin Hatch   

Johnny Isakson

Dan Sullivan