Mr. Speaker, our friends in Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia are facing major threats to their sovereignty from the Russian bear. These young democracies are striving to build peaceful, civil societies and effective governing institutions after decades of Soviet tyranny.
Yet Vladimir Putin, the Napoleon of Siberia, refuses to accept their independence and sovereign rights as free nations. For years, Russian troops have occupied each of these nations and incited violence within the borders.
Moscow has used corruption and coercion to undermine the rule of law in democratic institutions of each of these nations. Putin continues to use cyber warfare against each of these nations.
We, as leaders of the free world and guarantors of the international, rules- based order, have a duty to stand by these sovereign states. In some cases, Mr. Speaker, we have signed pledges to do so.
Their struggle for freedom is not some distant battle that does not concern our well-being. Their fight for self-determination is a battle for the global order and the survival of democracy in the face of foreign tyranny, specifically Putin’s tyranny.
Nations and the people they represent have the sole right to determine their own fates. Foreign bullies like Putin should not threaten or dictate their way of life or the futures of those children.
If we allow Russia to so blatantly break international law, particularly the fundamentals of sovereignty and territorial integrity, where will it end? When will the Russian bear march in the streets of some other friend, a NATO ally, perhaps?
We must recognize their courage in the face of such a daunting challenge and send a message to the Kremlin that we stand with our Eastern European friends on their quest to be a free nation and more integrated into the West. That is why I have introduced H. Res. 955, to affirm U.S. support to the nations of Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova in their effort to retain political sovereignty and territorial integrity.
I am joined in sponsoring this important bipartisan resolution by Georgia Caucus co-chair, Representative CONNOLLY from Virginia; as well as the co- chairs of the Moldova Caucus, Representative OLSON from Texas and Representative PRICE from North Carolina; and the co-chairs of the congressional Ukrainian Caucus, Representatives KAPTUR of Ohio, HARRIS of Maryland, FITZPATRICK of Pennsylvania, and LEVIN of Michigan.
Our resolution reaffirms the commitment of the United States to support the democratically elected governments of these three nations. It condemns Russia’s violation of the Budapest Memorandum, a commitment it made in 1994 to ensure the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Putin has lied. He lied in his commitment.
Our legislation calls for the immediate and complete withdrawal of all Russian military and security personnel and equipment from the nations of Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova. It calls for Moscow to end its destabilizing activities in all regions of these three countries.
It commends the ongoing trilateral cooperation between the Governments of Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova to confront Russia’s destabilizing activity, and it voices our support for U.S. assistance to these three nations, assistance that strengthens their capacity to resist Russia’s aggression. The resolution calls on all free nations of Europe, the United Nations, and international partners to continue to apply pressure on the totalitarian state of Russia to uphold its obligations, and it reaffirms U.S. support for these three nations integrating into the European Union.
This implies that Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova must also meet their obligations under EU association agreements to commit first and foremost to meaningful progress on economic reforms, strengthening democratic institutions, combating corruption, building independent judicial systems, and holding to the rule of law. This resolution marks our shared commitment to democracy in these great countries to be united to stand against Putin’s aggression.
Freedom-loving countries must stop the Russian bear and Putin’s desire to be czar of a new Putinland. As John F. Kennedy said many years ago: ‘‘Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty.’’
And that is just the way it is.