The following letter was sent me by Sen. Mark Warner. I would appreciate the comments of any readers who care to respond to his positions on our Ukraine policy.
Dear Dr. Herrick,
Thank you for taking the time to contact me with your concerns related to events in Ukraine.
Events in Ukraine and Crimea are deeply concerning. The Ukrainian people began protesting in November 2013 in response to then-President Viktor Yanukovych's rejection of a deal that would allow greater economic integration with the European Union. On February 22, Yanukovych was removed as President by a vote of Parliament. On May 25, in a special election called by its Parliament, Ukraine elected Petro Poroshenko as president. [tag]
I believe Russia's actions are unacceptable. That is why, on March 27, 2014, the Senate passed with my support S.2124, the Support for the Sovereignty, Integrity, Democracy, and Economic Stability of Ukraine Act of 2014. This legislation authorizes aid to Ukraine to help the country recover from an economic downturn and withstand Russian aggression. It also provides broad authority for the President to sanction individuals in Ukraine and Russia who are responsible for violence, human rights abuses, and corruption in Ukraine. I fully support strong U.S. and European sanctions against Russia and have called for a series of military, energy, and cybersecurity measures to counter Moscow's inexcusable actions.
In May and July, I led a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers in urging President Obama to strongly oppose France's sale of two Mistral amphibious assault ships to Russia. We believe that our NATO allies should not reward Russian President Vladimir Putin's inexcusable behavior by providing him with deadly weapons, which he could use not only to kill NATO soldiers, but also to attack NATO-allied territory. As a result, we urged the President to use the U.S.'s leadership role in NATO to convince all NATO members to commit to each other to end all defense sales and defense industrial cooperation with Russia.
We must reduce not just Putin's military and cyber capabilities; we must also diminish his ability to dominate European energy markets and use his energy policy as a weapon. One way to accomplish this goal is by improving Ukraine and Europe's energy security.
That is why I have also proposed a bipartisan energy security plan with Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) to expedite the U.S. Department of Energy's review of applications to export U.S. natural gas and develop a comprehensive energy security plan to assist Europe and Ukraine to reduce their dependence on Russian energy. Currently, U.S. companies can export natural gas only to countries that have a free trade agreement (FTA) with the U.S.; exporting to countries without FTAs, which include most of Europe, requires the companies to apply for a case-by-case review by the Energy Department. The Energy Department has approved fewer than ten projects so far, and more than 20 other export applications remain pending. My bipartisan proposal urges the Obama Administration to expedite this process. This proposal also recommends a strategic review of U.S. energy policies, a joint U.S.-European Union initiative on energy security, and other efforts to promote greater energyproductivity in Ukraine.
As a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I will continueto closely monitor developments in Ukraine. Again, thank you for contacting me. For further information or to sign up for my newsletter please visit my website at warner.senate.gov.
Sincerely, MARK R. WARNERUnited States