Durbin Highlights Recent CODEL To The Munich Security Conference, Georgia, And Romania

In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin reaffirms U.S. commitment to Ukraine following the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion

WASHINGTON  U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Co-Chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, spoke on the Senate floor highlighting his recent trip to the Munich Security Conference, as well as the countries of Georgia and Romania.  Durbin began his speech by reflecting on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, and President Biden’s recent trip to Kyiv.

“Last week the world saw a stark contrast in global leadership.  First, Presidents Biden and Zelensky together in Kyiv, Ukraine – standing resolutely in the face of Russian aggression and crimes against humanity.  President Biden went to neighboring Poland, where he told an enthusiastic crowd of thousands, ‘One year ago, the world was bracing for the fall of Kyiv.  I can report: Kyiv stands strong.  Kyiv stands proud.  It stands tall, and most important, it stands free.’ He vowed that the United States and its allies will ‘never waiver’ in their support for Ukraine, and ‘that NATO will not be divided and we will not tire.’ I couldn’t agree more with President Biden,” said Durbin.

“Those same sentiments were on display last weekend at the Munich Security Summit, which I attended with nearly 30 of my Senate colleagues,” Durbin continued.  “It was a bipartisan show of unity and resolve – with both Senators Schumer, the Democratic leader of the Senate, and McConnell, the Republican leader of it, urging sustained and determined support for Ukraine against Russian tyranny.  Compare these messages of transatlantic and bipartisan unity to the rambling set of manufactured grievances delivered at nearly the same time by Russian war criminal Vladimir Putin – the contrast could not have been starker.”

Following the Munich Security Conference, Durbin and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) traveled to Georgia and Romania, where they met with heads of state, members of the parliament, and representatives from civil society to discuss the nations’ bilateral relationship, as well as the geopolitical importance of the Black Sea region.

“Both nations remember Russian tyranny all too well, and have spent their decades of independence working to further integrate into the transatlantic community of democracies.  Georgia suffered most recently at the hands of Russian imperialism, when Putin militarily seized 20 percent of its land in 2008 – territory still illegally occupied today… So, it is my hope that Georgia will continue its path toward the EU and eventual NATO membership,” Durbin continued.  “It has some serious issues to resolve on that path – and a few potentially self-inflicted setbacks to avoid, such as a proposed reckless NGO law.  A step that is backward by a nation aspiring to freedom.  These can be overcome in a way that ensures a better and more secure future for the Georgian people.”

Following their visit to Georgia, the Senators visited Romania, where they met with U.S. soldiers from the 101st Airborne, including service members from Illinois.  Durbin and Shaheen also met with Romanian Prime Minister Ciuca, who reiterated the threat of Russian aggression and Romania’s proud role in the larger battle for democracy and freedom.  Prime Minister Ciuca also raised the threat Putin poses to the neighboring democracy of Moldova, where Russia already occupies a piece of its territory. 

“And in the same Black Sea region, Senator Shaheen and I also visited Romania – an eastern European nation already firmly in the EU and NATO.  And what a NATO ally it is…  Nearby, we could see rows of grain ships departing Ukraine and occupied Crimea is only a short distance away.  That vital commerce in such a strategic area is a reminder of the importance of advancing Senators Shaheen and Romney’s bipartisan legislation to establish a U.S.-Black Sea regional strategy – timely legislation that I have cosponsored,”Durbin continued. 

“Many of my colleagues here today know that my mother left as a little girl from Russian-occupied Lithuania.  She barely would recognize today’s vibrant and free member of the EU and NATO from the country she left behind.  Later this year, Lithuania will host an historic NATO Summit, by which time I hope we have added Finland and Sweden to the alliance.  That thriving, peaceful, and democratic future is what the Ukrainian people are still fighting for and which we must continue to support,”Durbin concluded.

Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here. 

Audio of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available here for TV Stations.

Durbin, Co-Chair of the Senate Baltic Freedom Caucus, previously traveled to Warsaw, Poland, and Vilnius, Lithuania, right before Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.  In June2022, Durbin traveled to Vilnius, Lithuania, where he received the Aleksandras Stulginskis Star Award, and following that, he attended the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain.  He frequently hosts members of the Ukrainian Parliament, and most recently hosted Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin to receive an update on reports of Russian war crimes and crimes against humanity.  Durbin’s bipartisan, bicameral Justice for Victims of War Crimes Act– which updates the current war crimes statute to enable prosecution of war criminals in the United States regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator or victim – was recently signed into law by President Biden.  The bill also extends the statute of limitations for certain war crimes.  Durbin-authored legislation restricting U.S. recognition of any Russian forcibly annexed areas of Ukraine also passed as part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 National Defense Authorization Act.