Mar 26 2022
(To view Senator Carper’s full remarks click here.)
Just last week, I joined almost all members of Congress to hear a virtual address from Ukrainian President Zelenskyy. Under attack in his native capital city of Kyiv, he carried the message of the Ukrainian people—both word of the unprovoked atrocities being committed in Ukraine by President Putin, and desperate Ukrainian pleas for help. Every lawmaker in that room—and every American watching from home—could feel the urgency in his words.
But more than that, I was moved by the images he brought with him by video: the image of a people suddenly under siege in cities being devastated that not a month before knew peace. That day, we all saw with our own eyes the images of a Russian assailant unleashing an unjust, unprovoked furor on a peaceful, independent, and democratic people.
We saw children attacked, crumbling civilian buildings with innocent families targeted. We saw neighbors huddled in homes surrounded by sounds of bomb sirens, awaiting once-promised cease fires on which the Russian military reneged. We saw pregnant mothers brutalized, carried out of bombed maternity wards through the smoking rubble of an unjust war. What in God’s name could an apartment building or a maternity ward have to do with the Russian military’s already unjust military aims? We saw a new European landscape of carnage not known in half a century, all because of the bloodthirsty ego of a megalomaniac: Vladimir Putin.
What we’ve seen these past few weeks: families murdered, civilian areas targeted, hospitals deliberately destroyed: those are war crimes. And the eyes of history won’t look kindly on Vladimir Putin’s sins—as the Ukrainian Ambassador to the UN said: “There is no purgatory for war criminals. They go straight to hell.”
The question for us is: what can we do to help the Ukrainian people hold strong? That’s been the guiding force for President Biden as he has led our nation and the international community in a swift, strong response to this crisis. When Putin first ordered troops into Ukraine, the Biden Administration immediately provided $350 million in military aid to Ukraine — from anti-air and anti-tank weapons, transport helicopters, armed patrol boats, and more. And, in the past few weeks as Putin’s unjust war continued, President Biden announced $1 billion in security assistance to bolster the Ukrainian defense. In Congress, we passed $13.6 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine in our annual government spending bill to bolster Ukrainian defenses and support citizens bracing against Putin’s indiscriminate attacks. The work isn’t over— we must continue to keep all options on the table in order to help the Ukrainian people defend their freedom.
And, we must continue to do everything possible economically to hit Putin and his oligarch cronies where it hurts. That’s why the Biden Administration has acted to cut off Russian banks from the international currency exchanges, sanction Putin’s inner circle of oligarch cronies, and ban the lifeblood of the Russian economy in oil and gas imports. And that’s why, in tandem with our G-7 and European allies, the Senate must act swiftly to answer President Biden’s call to revoke normal trade relations to inflict significant economic constraints on Russia.
We must continue to make President Putin pay a price for his mass murder— and we must continue working to protect President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people.
The United States stands with the people of Ukraine, and may God keep them safe.