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Engel Floor Remarks Supporting Ukraine Bill

ENGEL FLOOR REMARKS SUPPORTING UKRAINE BILL

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WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, this evening made the following remarks in the House of Representatives supporting his legislation, the STAND for Ukraine Act (H.R.5094). The bill passed unanimously in the House:

“Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this bill and I yield myself as much time as I may consume.

“Let me first of all thank our Chairman, Ed Royce, for helping advance this bill.  I introduced this bill in April, along with my friend from Illinois, Mr. Kinzinger, and I’m proud to say we now have 36 additional cosponsors—both Democrats and Republicans.

“Mr. Speaker, we shouldn’t kid ourselves about the intentions of Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin.  Inside his own borders, he’s stripped away the rights of Russia’s citizens.  He’s silenced a free and open press.  He’s stolen countless billions of dollars, or billions, and spread the wealth around to his cronies.  And in the wake of a sham election that boosted his party’s majority, it’s being reported that he wants to breathe new life into the KGB.

“His record abroad is more of the same.  He has trampled his neighbors’ sovereignty; worked to undermine NATO and Western unity; and posed a real threat to America’s work and the work of our friends over the past seven decades to build a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace.

“Perhaps most egregious is Russia’s ongoing illegal occupation of Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine.  Russia recently renewed its attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty by holding parliamentary elections for the Duma in Crimea.  It’s just outrageous, as the Chairman mentioned.  The United States will never recognize these claims, just as we never recognized Soviet control of the Baltic States during the fifty-year occupation there.

“My legislation underscores America’s support for Ukraine’s right to defend itself, and it keeps pressure on Russia so long as Russia’s criminal behavior in Ukraine continues.

“This bill says that if Russia wants to see sanctions relief, it must abide by its Minsk Agreement obligations—namely, if Ukraine controls the entirety of the eastern border, of its eastern border.   It makes Crimea-related sanctions permanent so long as the Russian occupation there continues.  It tightens sanctions enforcement with a new anti-evasion framework.  And it requires reporting on banks illegally controlling Ukrainian assets, particularly Russian banks in Crimea.

“This bill also takes steps to make it harder for Russia to buy defense equipment or services from our NATO allies.  It goes after human-rights abusers in Russian-occupied areas.  And it calls for a comprehensive strategy from our own government to push back against Russian propaganda.

“The people of Ukraine need to know the United States stands with them.  This government of Ukraine is the most pro-Western government they’ve ever had.  We need to help them.  And Vladimir Putin needs to know that his reckless ambition won’t go unanswered.

“Mr. Pascrel, our colleague from New Jersey,  had to leave, but he submitted testimony.  And he strongly supports this bill and everything that the Chairman and I are saying this evening.  So I ask all members to support this bill and I reserve the balance of my time.”