House Passes Resolution to Arm Ukraine, Russians Say Resolution Is "A Direct Call For War"

Vivian Hughbanks
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Posted: Mar 24, 2015 2:30 PM
House Passes Resolution to Arm Ukraine, Russians Say Resolution Is "A Direct Call For War"

The House passed resolution Monday that urges President Obama to provide Ukraine with military assistance in its struggle against Russia. The measure was well received in Ukraine.

Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin took to Twitter on Tuesday morning to show his enthusiasm for the resolution:

U.S. weapons sent to Ukraine could effectively assist forces fighting for the liberation of Crimea.

“We do need this precision weaponry and our armed forces in the south in particular need to be modernized," said Refat Chubarov, the leader of the Crimean Tatars, in a statement reminding the European Parliament that the region still awaits assistance. "The war against Ukraine started with the occupation of Crimea and the war against Ukraine may only be ceased with the liberation of Crimea.”

The resolution passed the House 348 to 48, with bipartisan co-sponsorship.

“We cannot view the crisis in Ukraine as just some faraway conflict or someone else’s problem,” said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Democratic leader of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and sponsor of the resolution. “What Putin is doing is he’s changing borders by force on the continent of Europe for the first time since World War II,” he added. “This cannot stand. The United States cannot turn a blind eye to it.”

The resolution is the strongest response in the current Congress to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s plea for aid to Congress last September when he requested lethal support.

“Six months after the President of Ukraine’s direct request to Congress for military assistance, when he said that ‘one cannot win a war with blankets,’ the Administration’s response to this crisis has been tepid at best,” said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA). “That has to change.”

Russians aren’t so excited about the resolution. While Putin still hypocritically denies that the separatists in Ukraine are receiving Russian support, Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the lower house of the State Duma -- Russia’s Parliament -- said yesterday that if the U.S. sent arms to Ukraine,

"This would be a massive rise in the level of confrontation.”

Frants Klintsevich, another Russian politician, called the resolution “a direct call for war,” and said that the U.S. sending arms to Ukraine would effectively nullify the Minsk peace agreements.

Acknowledging Russia’s role in establishing, supporting and arming “violent separatist proxies” in Ukraine, the House resolution calls for the United States to immediately send lethal defensive weapon systems to support Ukraine in defending their sovereign territory from the Russians.

It reads:

“Failure to stop this aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, especially its unprovoked and armed intervention in a sovereign country, illegal and forcible occupation of its territory, and unilateral efforts to redraw the internationally-recognized borders of Ukraine undermines the foundation of the international order that was established and has been defended at great cost by the United States and its allies in the aftermath of World War II.”

Engel noted in his remarks on the House floor that propaganda from the Kremlin specifically discourages trust of the West. He also likened Putin’s invasion of Crimea to Adolf Hitler’s invasion of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia at the start of World War II.

“You don’t satiate a bully by giving him what he wants early on, because it only whets his appetite for worse things to come,” Engel said in his remarks. “And at the point, later on, when you have to go at the bully, it’ll be much, much harder to defeat him—to stop him—than it was if you had simply stood up to him when he started his aggression. This is what’s happening now in Ukraine.”