Durbin: Putin Must End Ongoing Aggression Against Ukraine

Durbin announces support for Senator Menendez’s legislation to impose crippling sanctions if Russia further invades Ukraine

WASHINGTON  U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today spoke on the Senate floor against Russia’s ongoing aggression and massive military build-up on Ukraine’s border.  During his speech, Durbin noted President Biden’s swift condemnation of Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s actions.  Durbin also called on his colleagues to support legislation to be introduced by U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which would impose crippling sanctions if Russia further invades Ukraine. 


“[That] basic human desire to be free and democratically choose one’s leaders is apparently too much for Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who is now threating a further massive military invasion of Ukraine.  He’s amassed some hundred thousand troops on their border preparing for that invasion.  It’s not enough that Putin denies the Russian people their basic freedom.  He’s determined to eradicate similar aspirations on Russia’s border to protect his undemocratic regime,” Durbin said.  “President Biden and members of both parties in this chamber have been swift to condemn Putin’s threat of further invasion of Ukraine.  President Biden has made it clear that any such move by Russia will be met with rapid and severe economic sanctions.”


Durbin continued, “The Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, has drafted legislation that would impose historic sanctions if Russia further invades Ukraine.  The bill’s approach is sweeping and clear, and I support it… it’s the bill we should actually be debating on the Senate floor.  Instead, we’ll be forced to vote this week, or soon, on a different and weaker response to the crisis on Ukraine’s border.  The junior Senator from Texas is the author of this weaker approach.  He’s managed to force a vote on it by holding hostage dozens of President Biden’s nominations… This Cruz bill will hardly deter the potential Russian invasion of Ukraine… I urge my colleagues to support the wiser approach by the senior Senator from New Jersey to send a serious, credible response to Russia if it further invades Ukraine.”


During his speech, Durbin also honored Lithuania’s upcoming “Bloody Sunday” anniversary, independence from Russia, and willingness to stand up to ongoing Chinese economic coercion.


“On January 11, 1991, 31 years ago this week, Soviet tanks rolled in to crush Lithuanian freedom.  It would become known as Lithuania’s ‘Bloody Sunday.’  In the capital city of Vilnius, crowds gathered at the TV Tower and Parliament Square to protest the resistance of the Russians and to defend their new independent national legislature,” Durbin said.  “Thirteen martyrs died in the Soviet Union’s brutal attempt to crush the restoration of Lithuanian independence.  But to the astonishment of the entire world, after two days of bloodshed and killing, the Soviet tanks turned around and left.  Against all odds, that tiny nation of Lithuania threw off 50 years of Soviet tyranny and occupation.  They soon were joined by Latvia and Estonia, where similar courage was shown, and then by other Eastern European nations held captive by the Soviet block.  Today, I’m proud to say Lithuania remains a free and independent democracy.”


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.