Following Meeting With Ukrainian President Zelensky, Durbin Calls On U.S. To Ban Russian Oil Imports

In speech on Senate floor, Durbin honors Casimir Pulaski Day; reiterates President Biden’s call for Congress to approve aid package for Ukraine; calls on the U.S. to ban the purchase of Russian oil

WASHINGTON  U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Co-Chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, took to the Senate floor today to call on Congress to approve billions of dollars in emergency military and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine following a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Durbin also reiterated his support for the bipartisan Ban Russian Energy Imports Act, which was introduced by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). The legislation would prohibit the importation of Russian crude oil, petroleum, petroleum products, liquefied natural gas (LNG), and coal.


“Early on Saturday morning, hundreds of members of Congress joined a video call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. I’ve never seen anything like it. With the Russian military laying siege to his country, and a Russian bullseye on his back, President Zelensky spoke to us with remarkable dignity and courage. He didn’t mince words about what was happening in Ukraine,  the brutal Russian assaults literally trying to destroy his nation. He said we all share the same basic values and dreams – to live our lives in peace and watch our kids grow up and to kiss them. He said the Ukrainian people are fighting for these basic freedoms and they are prepared to be friends and share their culture with their Russian neighbors. But over the last 12 days, his country has faced full-fledged war with barbaric attacks on kindergartens, nuclear power plants, apartment buildings, infrastructure, and innocent civilians,” Durbin said.


More than 1.5 million Ukrainians have fled as refugees to neighboring countries such as Poland and Moldova. In addition, 364 Ukrainians have been killed during the first 12 days of Putin’s barbaric war on Ukraine. Durbin’s home state of Illinois is home to many Ukrainian and Polish immigrants. He went on to highlight companies and people in the Chicago area who are helping the Ukrainian people – through thousands of donations.


Durbin again called on Congress to act without delay to approve $10 billion in emergency aid to assist Ukraine and bolster our NATO allies, as well as support neighboring nations such as Poland and Moldova that are providing safe havens to Ukrainian refugees.  And he repeated his support for a bill that would ban Russian oil imports to the U.S.


“After listening to President Zelensky on Saturday, I thought to myself how can we possibly be importing Russian oil and gas, giving the profits of those transactions to Vladimir Putin to pay for his war machine? I believe now, and I cosponsored the legislation that reaches this goal, that the United States should ban the purchase of Russian oil -- to further tighten the economic pressure on Putin. I joined legislation introduced by Senators Murkowski and Manchin to do that. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is talking with our NATO allies, many of them seem also willing to consider a ban on Russian oil. Vladimir Putin is threatening not only the security of Ukraine, he’s threatening the security of the world. We must not even indirectly fund his war machine. While Putin wages war on democracy, the world – including the United States -- will likely pay more to fill our tanks and heat our homes -- we have to be ready for that. But that is the price today of defending freedom and democracy,” Durbin continued.

Durbin concluded, “I hope this crisis ends soon. Until then, the United States and the rest of the civilized world must stand with Ukraine and for freedom and democracy.”


Durbin and U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Co-Chairs of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, met with Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova last week.


Durbin, Portman, and Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led 39 Senators in a letter to President Biden urging the Administration to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Ukrainians in the United States following the Russian military invasion of Ukraine.  The Administration granted this status on Thursday.

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.