On Senate Ground, Portman Highlights Russia’s Lengthy Historical past of Oppression of Ukraine, Ukrainian Artillery Strikes on Russian Forces, NATO Vote, & Urges Continued Help of Ukrainian Folks

August 3, 2022


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WASHINGTON, DC – This afternoon, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) delivered remarks on the Senate flooring in assist of Ukraine for the twentieth consecutive week earlier than the Senate breaks for the August district work interval, becoming a member of Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). Portman mentioned the progress remodeled these final 5 months that Russia has waged its conflict in opposition to harmless Ukrainians. Portman laid out how Russia has an extended historical past of oppressing Ukrainian identification, language, and tradition going again tons of of years, and the way that oppression continues immediately in its brutal conflict in opposition to Ukraine.

Heeding bipartisan calls from Congress, the US has despatched Ukraine over a dozen Excessive Mobility Artillery Rocket Programs or HIMARS to strike Russian forces from lengthy distances. These weapons have been essential to Ukraine’s makes an attempt to sluggish Russia’s advance within the Donbas and to liberate territory within the south.

Senator Portman additionally highlighted his intent to vote to convey Finland and Sweden into NATO in defiance of Russia’s threats. As Co-Chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus and member of the Senate Committee on International Relations, Portman has been a staunch defender of Ukraine and has spoken persistently on the Senate flooring since earlier than the Russian invasion started.

A transcript of his remarks could be discovered beneath and a video could be discovered right here.



“Madam President, I am on the ground immediately with Senator Jeanne Shaheen from New Hampshire to hitch in a colloquy concerning what is going on in Ukraine. That is the twentieth time in so many weeks that I’ve come to the ground to speak in regards to the unlawful, unprovoked, and brutal invasion of Ukraine by Russia. At this time, I look ahead to being with my colleague, Senator Shaheen, a member of the Ukraine Caucus, somebody with whom I traveled to Ukraine and in addition to the border of Ukraine and Poland to fulfill with the refugees. Senator Shaheen goes to speak a bit of about how we bought to the place we’re and what we do going ahead.

“I additionally was just lately made conscious of the truth that we’re going to take up the NATO ratification vote immediately and that is to have the US approve the addition of Sweden and Finland to the NATO alliance. That is nice for the alliance. It is nice for the US. I consider it is also, in any other case, they would not have an interest, excellent for the individuals of Finland and Sweden. They add quite a bit to the NATO alliance. They’re militarily and economically able to be precious contributors. Additionally they, within the case of Finland, share the most important land border with Russia of any nation. They’ve comprehensible issues with what they see occurring in Ukraine. I simply consider it is very a lot in our nationwide safety curiosity and the curiosity of individuals I signify to have, as well as, even additional strengthening of the NATO alliance by way of the addition of those two companions. Vladimir Putin thought he was going to separate NATO aside when he started his invasion of Ukraine, I consider, and immediately he is discovering simply the alternative has occurred. NATO has come collectively in methods we’ve got by no means seen and we now have, once more, the addition of two very robust members of NATO who’re longtime allies of the US and can add considerably to the NATO alliance.

“With regard to Ukraine, let’s begin with a bit of historical past. Ukrainians have confronted adversity from Russia for tons of of years. This isn’t new to them. Russia’s impression of Ukraine isn’t a twenty first century situation. For 300 years, beneath the brutal rule of the Russian czars, Ukrainians have been topic to repeated efforts to stamp out their language, their, tradition, and their identification. In January of 1918, Ukrainians bought their first style of nationwide freedom. Whereas Russia was coping with the chaos of the Bolshevik Revolution, Ukraine declared its independence from the Russian empire. Sadly, this freedom was short-lived. Only a few years later, the Bolsheviks conquered Ukraine and subsumed it into the Soviet Union. As an unwilling member of the Soviet Empire, Ukrainians suffered horrific atrocities by the hands of their Soviet overlords.

“In 1932 and once more in 1933, the Stalinist regime confiscated grain harvests throughout Ukraine and imposed a premeditated, man-made famine in opposition to the individuals of Ukraine. This horrific atrocity is called the Holodomor. Tens of millions of males, ladies, and youngsters have been starved to loss of life in a deliberate effort to interrupt the Ukrainian nation’s resistance to communist occupation. Stalin even ordered the borders of the nation to be sealed to stop anybody from escaping this man-made hunger and to stop the supply of any worldwide meals support. In 2018, Senator Durbin and I launched a decision to commemorate the eighty fifth anniversary of the Holodomor and to acknowledge the Fee on the Ukraine Famine’s discovering that it was a genocide. No query. I’m grateful to Senator Shaheen, Senator Tillis, and others who’re within the chamber immediately for cosponsoring that decision. It handed in October of 2018 unanimously right here in the US Senate.

“The Holodomor did not extinguish the Ukrainian individuals’s identification, as laborious as they tried. However it was not the top of the Soviet oppression. Within the 1970’s, the Soviet management imposed a crackdown on Ukrainian intellectuals and people with any form of leanings towards Independence or towards the West. The prisons and gulags turned full of Ukrainian political prisoners because the Soviet Union, as soon as once more, tried to assault Ukrainian identification.

“However then in 1991, after years of repression, Ukraine lastly broke away from its Russian rulers for good. Ukraine declared its independence on August 24 of that yr, and in December, the declaration was confirmed by a referendum by which over 90 % of the Ukrainian individuals voted in favor of independence. This chart exhibits the superb response of the individuals of Ukraine to that. Ninety-five % of the individuals within the Kyiv space, as you possibly can see, supported Independence. By the way in which, Russians usually say that Crimea actually was not a part of Ukraine. Effectively, greater than half of the individuals in Crimea have been for Independence as nicely.

“However Russia’s crimes in opposition to the individuals of Ukraine proceed to at the present time. Final week a video was circulated on-line of a Russian soldier torturing and mutilating a Ukrainian prisoner, sadly not an remoted incident. After this, the Ukrainian soldier was shot lifeless and dragged with a rope right into a shallow grave by his Russian captors. We have all seen the images from Bucha, individuals assassinated, individuals with their fingers tied behind their again. Elsewhere in Ukraine, a Russian missile assault struck a jail in Donetsk that was housing Ukrainian prisoners of conflict. This chart exhibits that jail and the truth that it was attacked by missiles.

“Many of those troopers have been concerned within the heroic protection of the Azovstal Metal Manufacturing facility in Mariupol. They held out for weeks in opposition to Russian assaults on the plant. A minimum of 40 Ukrainian POWs, perhaps extra, have been killed on this assault. These have been POWs, these have been troopers who have been lawful prisoners of conflict, supposedly protected by the Geneva Conference. Russia’s homicide of those POWs is a conflict crime, and Russia have to be held accountable for this and all its numerous crimes in Ukraine.

“However, following its ordinary playbook, Russia is spreading huge quantities of disinformation concerning this incident and so many others. They declare that the Ukrainian forces killed these prisoners as a strategy to discourage different troopers from surrendering. This, after all, is nonsense. Amongst different issues, Ukraine wants the manpower. Why would they kill their very own troopers as an alternative of getting them again in a prisoner swap that everyone assumed was going to occur? It makes little sense, but it surely has by no means stopped Russia from propagating lies to deflect blame from its personal crimes. Unsurprisingly the Pink Cross nonetheless has not been granted entry to this web site by Russia who clearly want extra time to cowl up the proof of its involvement earlier than they permit any type of inspection. Let the Pink Cross in.

“These accountable for these atrocities have to be held to account. That is one motive why Senator Shaheen and I final week cosponsored a decision to acknowledge what is going on in Ukraine as genocide. Throughout the nation, Ukrainian ladies and youngsters have been subjected to indiscriminate Russian missile strikes and air strikes. It has killed hundreds of innocents — not combatants, noncombatants — youngsters. A couple of weeks in the past, I spoke about little Liza, a 4-year-old woman with autism who was killed by a Russian missile strike in Vinnitsa. When Ukrainian First Woman Zelenska was on the town a few weeks in the past, she spoke a couple of three-year-old boy who simply discovered the best way to use prosthetics. Think about that: An harmless three-year-old boy who has been pressured to learn to use a prosthetic limb due to a Russian air strike on civilian targets.

“These tales are laborious to listen to and laborious to inform, however the world should learn about them. That is the truth that every one Ukrainians are dealing with. Unsurprisingly, the individuals of Ukraine are responding to those atrocities. A potential Ukrainian counteroffensive could also be unfolding within the south within the route of Kherson. We’ve additionally heard about this within the well-liked media. Kherson is right here, it’s close to the Black Sea Port of Odessa. This southern a part of Ukraine is extremely necessary for Ukraine’s economic system, and Russia is aware of that.

“Bear in mind Kherson was the primary main Ukrainian metropolis to fall to the Russian forces after Russia’s full-scale invasion started in February of this yr, however now Ukrainian troopers are conducting missile strikes in opposition to Russian navy infrastructure within the space to weaken Russia’s defenses. They’re additionally conducting restricted floor assaults and liberating components of this territory that Russia has illegally taken. You may see that within the gentle blue. The importance of recapturing Kherson can’t be overestimated. It will undo considered one of Russia’s earliest successes within the conflict. It is also necessary that Ukraine regain management of a lot of its Black Beach as potential. That is the Ukrainian economic system’s major connection to the remainder of the world. Russia after all has sought to seize this shoreline to be able to economically strangle Ukraine.

“We talked final week about what they’re doing in Odessa. They lastly determined they have been going to let ships come out of Odessa, they usually made an settlement that they’d not proceed to bomb Odessa and positively not bomb any port services. Inside 12 hours, they bombed port services in Odessa. That is how a lot the Russian dedication meant. However a ship has lastly sailed from Odessa, and we hope many extra will go. If Ukraine is profitable in its efforts right here within the south, it’s going to undermine President Putin and his makes an attempt to make a Russian victory in Ukraine. One thing that the Russians say is inevitable.

“Whereas Ukraine is making progress within the south, Russia is laying the groundwork to attempt to annex occupied land, significantly within the east on this space close to Donetsk. Occupation signifies that the Russians themselves are distributing Russian passports, paying salaries in Russian rubles, and expediting Russian residents for Ukrainian residents. There are stories that Russia will stage a “sham” referendum on this space to attempt to legitimatize their unlawful annexation. Senior Kremlin officers have warned Russia won’t ever depart areas of Kherson, within the south right here, the place Russian forces have been occupying the territory.

“Earlier than the invasion, these cities have been residence to greater than 2.5 million Ukrainians on this space. 2.5 million Ukrainians. One outstanding Kremlin propagandist has stated, ‘Ukraine, because it was, can’t live on.’ This individual continued, ‘There is not going to be the Ukraine as we’ve got identified for a few years. It will not be Ukraine any longer.’ Clearly, that is the Russian intent. Vladimir Putin stated his ambition is much more.

“It is to totally restore the borders of the previous Soviet Union. We should ensure he is aware of that the Ukraine of 2022 isn’t the Ukraine of 1921 which Russian Bolsheviks conquered and compelled into the Soviet Empire.

“We all know the best way to assist Ukraine to maintain this from occurring. It is to supply them what they should defend themselves. We just lately offered Ukraine with what we name Excessive Mobility Artillery Programs, or HIMARs. Many people have been advocating for that; we’re glad to see there are some HIMARs now within the theater. These have been vital to the latest Ukrainian navy successes. So, this Congress has made a distinction. We offered funding. We have gotten some gear into the world that the Ukrainians want to have the ability to defend themselves and to have some form of a degree taking part in area with Russia’s a lot greater military. Officers have stated with the assistance of those HIMARs, Ukraine has taken out Russian high-value targets and destroyed them, and saved numerous Ukrainian lives. These embrace ammunition depots and targets from lengthy distances. HIMARs have additionally performed many of those strikes in southern Ukraine, as I talked about earlier to make progress within the Kherson space.

“Russians have comparable long-range artillery that beforehand allowed them to fireplace on Ukrainian forces with impunity. They may sit again and hearth and degree cities and kill civilians and kill Ukrainian navy personnel, however they could not be reached by the Ukrainians. Now the Ukrainians have taken themselves out of that hazard zone as a result of these HIMARs can stability the taking part in area and have that longer vary and the accuracy they want. I feel there are about 15 in theater now. There are additionally a number of from Germany and some from the U.Okay. However they want extra. They are saying they want 40 to 50 and the munitions to have the ability to make them efficient.

“That is one thing that we ought to be targeted on. We ought to be targeted on offering them once more what they should truly win this battle. I consider we additionally bought to proceed offering Ukrainians with different weapons, as nicely, together with the Army Tactical Missile System or the ATACMS. This missile, which could be launched from the identical HIMARs launchers that we have already been giving to Ukraine, has an extended vary of 300 kilometers. In a conflict like this one, that’s more and more turning into an artillery duel, vary is a decisive issue. These missiles would enable Ukraine to show the tables on the Russians. Whereas Ukraine was out-ranged by the Russian artillery, with the ATACMS missiles, we’d be capable to assist Ukraine to have the ability to strike necessary Russian targets with impunity themselves. That is necessary. As a result of Ukraine is now utilizing these weapons on this counteroffensive in Kherson. The Institute for the Examine of Struggle, a think-tank right here in Washington, D.C., has stated just lately this offensive to take out Russia is within the works, and Ukrainians are utilizing HIMARs to strike targets successfully 50 miles away. It is serving to.

“We made a distinction. Former safety adviser to the Ukrainian authorities, Alexander Kera, advised Newsweek the state of Russian morale within the south means a counteroffensive has ‘a superb opportunity of success.’ He continued, ‘The Russians endure from poor morale, logistical troubles, and the horrors of HIMARs.’ So, the proof is evident as to why we should always proceed to ship them weapons they want to have the ability to not simply survive however to win this battle. By the way in which, we’ve got tons of of HIMARs in our shares which can be presently not with lively models, so we’ve got the power to assist extra.

“This conflict has now crossed over the five-month mark. Since earlier than the invasion started, I’ve come to this flooring numerous occasions to speak about what must be accomplished, as has Senator Shaheen and as have others. I’ve talked about the truth that we despatched billions in navy support and humanitarian help to Ukraine and that it’s working. Significantly, as we see with a few of these new weapons, it is making a distinction. It can assist these courageous warriors of their most weak noncombatants, the children and the youngsters, be capable to survive and have the opportunity, within the case of the navy, to have the ability to begin making progress to push out the Russian invaders.

“Democrats and Republicans alike have sounded the alarm with bipartisan pushes and laws to assist Ukraine. We’ve got urged with success, by the way in which, that the U.S. lower off our personal Russian oil and gasoline. We at the moment are urging the Europeans to do the identical. We’ve got talked in regards to the want for extra weapons, for extra sanctions to take away all of Russia’s financial institution’s entry to the worldwide monetary system or the SWIFT system, to droop our tax treaty with Moscow, to discover choices to take away different tax advantages, and to take away entry to the U.S. market. All of that is vital. Each on the navy facet, the humanitarian facet, the financial facet, and the sanction facet to be able to have a victory.

“I concern typically with regard to the navy help, that we have been doing too little too late. We will not proceed to do too little too late. It is a wrestle. It is a wrestle between freedom and democracy and the appropriate of self-determination on the one hand and, however, Russian aggression unprovoked, a brutal conquest, authoritarianism, and tyranny. President Putin’s ambitions lie nicely past Ukraine. We should present him that the West continues to face united. We have to present Ukraine that the world stands with them. This is the reason it’s so necessary that Sweden and Finland have chosen to hitch NATO, and we should assist them in that.

“All of this, by the way in which, transcends the political spectrum, and I’ve actually seen that. Senator Shaheen and I’ve proven that in our work to assist Ukraine, it’s not a political situation. It’s not a Republican or Democrat situation. We’re stepping up in assist of our democratic ally, collectively.

“Because the combat rages on, the perseverance and self-determination of Ukrainians appears to develop even stronger. We’ve got seen their resilience within the face of every day bombardments. We’ve seen their resilience within the face of Russia’s damaged guarantees. When counter to their commitments, Russia has attacked ports, as I stated, and humanitarian corridors. The Ukrainian persons are preventing for his or her homeland, for his or her households, for his or her freedom. And it’s spectacular and provoking to see what they’re doing.

“The Senate goes to interrupt for an August recess right here within the subsequent few days, and despite the fact that we can’t be on the ground each week to proceed to combat for the Ukrainian individuals, we’ll accomplish that with our work again residence, with getting extra individuals engaged and concerned in America to assist on the humanitarian facet. We are going to proceed to advertise the truth that the US’ nationwide safety curiosity is served by serving to freedom and democracy.

“I need to be aware one thing President Zelenskyy stated just lately in an tackle to the individuals of Ukraine. He stated, ‘Strategically, Russia has no probability of profitable this conflict, and it’s vital to carry on in order that even on the tactical ranges, the terrorist state feels its defeat. It doesn’t matter what occurs and what the occupier’s plans are, we should do our job, defend our state, and care for one another.’

“Let’s assist Ukraine end this mission, defend their state, their democracy, and care for one another. Let’s give Ukraine the instruments it wants to have the ability to try this. After these months of preventing and giving support, the West should not falter throughout Ukraine’s dire time of want. We have to be there by way of victory for the Ukrainian individuals. Victory for self-determination, victory for freedom. With that, I might wish to yield to my colleague from New Hampshire, Senator Shaheen, and my associate on this effort.”




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