Durbin: It Is Clear That Putin Has Disastrously Miscalculated

On Senate floor, Durbin highlights two Illinois World War II veterans, stresses importance of NATO, calls for release of Russian opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza

WASHINGTON  U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Co-Chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, spoke on the Senate floor to reiterate the United States’ support of the transatlantic alliance and Ukraine as Vladimir Putin continues his unjustified and unprovoked war.  Durbin also highlighted the service of two Illinois veterans – Lorenzo Cervantes, who passed away last week, and Casimir “Casey” Celeske.  Both Cervantes and Celekse fought in World War II with an elite combat unit known as the First Special Service Force.


Durbin said, “After World War II, the United States and the leading free nations of Europe worked together to create a new system of rules and institutions—to guard the hard-won peace and reduce the risk of Europe ever again descending into the hell of world war.  The most important of these new institutions was called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  Among the most important of the new rules was the commitment that nations must never again wage wars of conquest against their neighbors.  For more than 75 years, the new rules and institution largely helped keep the peace in Europe.  But then came Ukraine.”


During the speech, Durbin emphasized Russia is losing its war in Ukraine and the Russian economy is suffering as a result of robust sanctions imposed by the Biden Administration and other nations.


“The effects of the sanctions against Russia will become even more onerous in coming months,” Durbin said.  He noted that the sanctions target not only Russian companies and the Russian government but also “the oligarchs and kleptocrats – Putin’s fraternity – who have helped prop up Putin’s corrupt regime.”


“The Putin regime has also given up any pretense it once had, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, of being a democracy,” Durbin continued.


Last month, Durbin met with Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian opposition figure who survived two poisoning attempts by the Kremlin.  Mr. Kara-Murza was arrested in Moscow last week for telling the truth about the brutality happening in Ukraine. Durbin and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) plan to introduce a bipartisan resolution calling for Mr. Kara-Murza’s immediate release.


Durbin praised President Biden for his leadership in uniting NATO and the West, and enabling Ukraine to defend itself.  Yesterday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin travelled to Kyiv and met with Ukrainian President Zelensky.  In the last two months alone, the United States has committed to Ukraine an unprecedented $3.7 billion in military equipment, including Howitzers, helicopters, ammunition, tactical drones, and more.


Durbin concluded, “The tragic irony is Russia is using many of the same tactics used in World War II – including attacking a peaceful neighboring nation, intentionally targeting civilians, and committing heinous war crimes.  This Senate voted unanimously last month to condemn Vladimir Putin as a war criminal.  We must continue to stand with Ukraine and for democracy and the rules of civilization for which so many Americans fought and died in World War II and since.”


Mr. Cervantes, who died last week at the age of 98, was a retired steelworker from Sterling, Illinois.  He joined the U.S. Army in 1943 and volunteered for the First Special Service Force (FSSF), an elite combat unit made up of U.S. and Canadian Service members.  The FSSF operated behind enemy lines and suffered heavy casualties.  It was the forerunner to the Army Rangers, Navy Seals, and every other military special force. 


Mr. Celske, of Aledo, Illinois, also served in the First Special Service Force.  He died in 2019 at the age of 98.


For decades after World War II, the very existence of the FSSF was top secret.  In 2015, the unit was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor Congress can bestow.


  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.