Durbin, Tester, Bennet, Klobuchar Meet with Ukraine's Speaker of the Parliament

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Co-Chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, along with U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) hosted Ruslan Stefanchuck, Speaker of the Parliament of Ukraine, and Oksana Markarova, Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States, to discuss President Biden’s emergency supplemental request, which includes funds for Ukraine, Israel, the Indo-Pacific, and humanitarian needs.  The Senate is expected to vote on the supplemental later today.

“More than 20 months after Putin began his brutal, criminal invasion, Ukraine remains on the frontlines of democracy.  As the world watches the Senate vote on the emergency supplemental today, we reiterated to our Ukrainian friends during the meeting that we stand with Ukraine—and will continue to push for the resources and equipment necessary to prevail against Russian tyranny,” said Durbin. “For a modest investment by U.S. standards, particularly compared to the costs of Russia succeeding, we are keeping hope and freedom alive in Ukraine.” 

“Vladimir Putin knows he’s losing on the battlefield, but he’s counting on winning on Capitol Hill,” said Bennet. “I’m grateful that Speaker Stefanchuck came to Washington to share just how important it is forCongress to continue supporting the Ukrainian people. For the sake of democracy, we cannot abandon Ukraine at this moment.”

A photo of the meeting is available here.

At a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing last month, Durbin questioned Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin about the national security supplemental request and emphasized how detrimental it would be for the NATO alliance if the United States did not continue to financially support Ukraine.  Secretary Blinken also emphasized Putin’s efforts to distract the U.S. from the war in Ukraine by meeting with Hamas leadership in Moscow amid the crisis in the Middle East.

The meeting also comes after the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced first-of-its-kind war crimes charges against four Russian men in connection to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  Durbin has long pressed for DOJ to utilize its existing authorities to prosecute war crimes, while working to expand such authorities. Following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Durbin and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) authored the bipartisan Justice forVictims 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. The bill was signed into law by President Biden. Durbin offered an amendment to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 National Defense Authorization Act that would have enabled the Justice Department to also prosecute crimes against humanity. Durbin-authored legislation restricting U.S. recognition of any forcibly annexed areas of Ukraine by Russia also passed as part of the FY 2023 National Defense Authorization Act