Durbin Statement on Crisis in Ukraine

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement today in light of the continuing violence in Ukraine:

“Ukrainian government officials involved in violence—and the Russian oligarchs who are backing them—should face a freeze on their assets and a visa ban from the United States if they continue this bloodbath.  The Ukrainian people deserve an accommodation that respects historical ties to Russia but also reflects the aspirations of so many Ukrainians to strengthen ties with the West.  Tragically, what is happening today is instead a cynical attempt to hold power by Ukraine’s leadership and thinly veiled manipulation of the situation by Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

Last month, the Senate unanimously approved a resolution co-sponsored by Durbin that urged the government of Ukraine and members of the opposition to find a peaceful and democratic resolution to the country’s current political crisis.  The resolution was offered after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych abruptly decided not to sign a historic trade and political agreement with the European Union—partly due to pressure from Russia—after years of negotiations.  The decision prompted hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians to protest and those protests have been met with violence from state police.


Last November, the Senate unanimously approved a resolution Durbin introduced calling for the release of Ukraine’s former Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, who has been held on selective charges of abusing her power in a state-sponsored contract since 2011.  Numerous human rights groups and governments around the world, as well as the European Court of Human Rights, have called the charges politically motivated and called for Ms. Tymoshenko’s release.


Durbin visited Ukraine in 2012, meeting separately with both President Yanukovych and former Prime Minister Tymoshenko’s daughter to discuss the political situation in the country.  Video of Durbin’s statement last November on Tymoshenko’s situation and the impasse in Ukraine can be found here.