Durbin: Congress Must Pass Supplemental Aid Package To Help Ukraine And Prevent Widening Of Putin's War

On Senate floor, Durbin highlights his legislation to hold Russian war criminals accountable; lauds Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya efforts to also free Belarus from Russian oppression

WASHINGTON  U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Co-Chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, spoke on the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to pass a supplemental aid package to help Ukraine and prevent Russia’s war from spreading to neighboring nations.  Durbin also highlighted legislation he plans to introduce – the War Crimes Accountability Act - to ensure the United States has the tools to hold accountable the perpetrators of war crimes and other atrocities.

Durbin, also Co-Chair of the Senate Baltic Freedom Caucus, began his speech by highlighting a Congressional trip he made to Eastern Europe in 1991 and our strong relations with the Baltic States in the midst of Putin’s unjustified and unprovoked war in Ukraine.

“Last week, my staff found a picture from a Congressional trip I made in 1991.  In one of the photos, there is a message on the wall that reads ‘Freedom for Baltic Countries’... Just as in the Baltics three decades ago, Russian strongmen have failed to understand the desire of people who are determined to be free and democratically choose their own leaders,” Durbin said.

Durbin’s War Crimes Accountability Act will ensure that perpetrators of war crimes and other heinous atrocities in Ukraine and elsewhere cannot find sanctuary in the United States by strengthening criminal, civil, and immigration consequences. Due to gaps in existing law, many foreign war criminals and perpetrators of atrocities who come to the U.S. cannot be prosecuted for their crimes. For example, a Russian official or soldier who committed war crimes against Ukrainians and is later found in the United States could not be prosecuted in U.S. courts. This bill will close these gaps to prevent the United States from being a safe haven for such perpetrators.

“Throughout Ukraine, investigators are reporting Russian soldiers using rape as a weapon of war and deliberately shelling schools, hospitals, apartment buildings, and other civilian targets… The world cannot tolerate this barbarity.  And the United States must not provide a safe haven for anyone who commits war crimes of this nature or crimes against humanity in Ukraine, or anywhere in the world,” Durbin continued.

During his speech, Durbin urged Congress to pass President Biden’s $33 billion supplemental aid package for Ukraine. The additional aid will give the people of Ukraine the weapons to repel Russia’s war as well as bolster our allies and partners in the region such as the Baltics, Poland, and Moldova.

Durbin concluded, “The $33 billion in emergency aid that [President] Biden requested will help Ukraine withstand the next brutal phase of this war – and prevent Putin from spreading his malevolent war into other nations…I urge my colleagues to come together, waste no time, pass it quickly, and send it to the Ukrainians to win this war.”

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.