Durbin Questions Secretary Of State Antony Blinken On Situation In Ukraine At Senate Appropriations Committee Hearing

Durbin highlights legislation he plans to introduce to hold Russian war criminals accountable, urges for safe return of Illinois-native Mark Frerichs, and reminds of continued detention of Philippines Senator Leila DeLima

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), today at a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs hearing questioned Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the U.S. Department of State’s Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget request. Durbin, Co-Chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, began his questioning asking about Ukraine’s needs following Putin’s unjustified and unprovoked war.

“Are we falling short for what they need [Ukraine]? Are we doing enough from a diplomatic or military point of view?” Durbin asked.

Blinken answered by stating the United States and other countries are coming together to ensure Ukrainians have the necessary resources. He also confirmed coordination efforts are swift and efficient – stating Ukrainians have the resources as soon as 72 hours from when President Biden signs off.   

Durbin then raised the topic of war criminals, specifically legislation he plans to introduce to ensure the United States has the tools to hold accountable the perpetrators of war crimes and other atrocities. Due to gaps in existing law, many foreign war criminals who come to the U.S. cannot be prosecuted, held civilly liable, or deported 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.  

We should make it clear to anyone engaged in Putin’s strategy–they will never find a comfortable, safe home in the United States. I hope to bring that to your attention and you’ll take a look at it,” Durbin said.

Blinken confirmed they will look into this issue.  

Durbin then asked if the State Department was aware of Mark Frerichs, an Illinois resident being held captive in Afghanistan. Blinken replied he is more than aware of the situation. Durbin again urged to bring Mark home.  He also mentioned ongoing concern over the troubling detention of Philippines Senator Leila DeLima. 

Video of Durbin’s remarks from the hearing is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks from the hearing is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks from the hearing is available here for TV Stations.