02 February 2017New York, NY (UCCA) – The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), the nation’s largest representative body of Americans of Ukrainian descent, has consistently advocated for Ukraine’s freedom and independence over the course of three-quarters of a century. As a united voice for our community, we have stood behind national policies designed to “make America strong in power” and “resolute in its foreign relations” (Address of the First Ukrainian American Congress, May 24, 1940), have repeatedly called upon the United States to live up to its obligations to Ukraine as a signator of the Budapest Memorandum, and have forthrightly advocated for maintaining and strengthening the existing sanctions regime against the Russian Federation until the withdrawal of all covert and overt Russian forces and equipment from Ukraine. Therefore, when a senior adviser to President Trump suggests in a televised interview that lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia is "under consideration" by the United States, we believe it is incumbent on the President and our elected officials to come out and correct the record.
The United States, as the bastion of democracy in the free world, and the President, as its Executive, must always take the lead in promoting international norms, defending basic human rights and freedoms, and charting a course of geopolitical stability. Ukraine today stands as the only non-NATO partner nation to have contributed actively to all NATO-led operations and missions for the past 20 years, and deserves at minimum, the same support given to other strategic allies by the United States. Over the course of the past 1,000 days, Russia’s war on Ukraine has taken over 10,000 lives, displaced over 2 million civilians (the largest wartime displacement in Europe since WWII), and bears the responsibility for downing a commercial airliner over Ukraine, killing 298 innocent men, women and children.
While every new administration looks to take a fresh approach to foreign policy, even the mention of possibly lifting the existing sanctions against Russia while the two largest militaries in Europe are actively engaged in this nearly 3-year-old land war sends a dangerous message to our adversaries, and puts to question America’s ability to lead the Euro-Atlantic alliance through this new century untainted by World Wars. Our community, like other ethnic communities throughout this great nation whose people and homelands have come under attack by Putin’s Russia, believe instead that the United States should maintain and strengthen sanctions to ratchet up the pressure on Russia and those companies which support Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine. The United States should also further develop the 20-year military relationship with Ukraine, and press forward with the European Reassurance Initiative with a persistent rotational presence of air, land, and sea forces on the territory of NATO allies such as Bulgaria, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania, as a buffer against Russia further advancing its military adventurism into NATO countries and threatening the shared post-WWII collective security order.
In light of Russia’s ongoing assault of Ukraine through military, economic, cyber and information warfare, President Trump should continue America’s bipartisan record of support for Ukraine, as maintaining the commitments made to our allies on matters of such grave importance represent the best of our nations’ shared values and ideals.