Letter from Congressman Roskam to Secretary Tillerson

Letter from Congressman Roskam to Secretary Tillerson (link to full PDF)

The Honorable Rex W. Tillerson
Secretary of State
United States Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Secretary Tillerson:

As you conclude your official visit to Europe and the Russian Federation, I write to express my strong support for Ukraine and the U.S.-Ukraine relationship. The United States must do everything we can to stop Russia’s hybrid warfare against Ukraine. As Vladimir Putin seeks to destabilize Europe, undermine democratic governments across the region, and rebuild an expansionist Russian empire, the U.S. and our allies must remain resolute in our commitment to the Ukrainian people and Ukrainian democracy.

At a recent Group of Seven (G-7) meeting, you reportedly raised the rhetorical question to G-7 Foreign Ministers, “why should U.S. taxpayers be interested in Ukraine?” I have held numerous meetings with Ukrainian officials, discussed issues with my Ukrainian constituents, and led several solidarity missions to Ukraine. I can tell you the answer to this question is abundantly clear. Ukraine is a cornerstone in the global struggle for freedom and democracy. A secure and democratic Ukraine is paramount to U.S. national security and international stability. The U.S.-Ukraine relationship sends a powerful mess
age to our allies and foes alike. It is pivotal that we continue to strongly oppose Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea and military aggression in the Donbas region.

While Ukraine is on the frontlines of the battle against Russian expansionism, Putin’s objectives do not end with Ukraine. The Kremlin explicitly claims it wants a sphere of influence in the post-Soviet space. Moscow claims the right and obligation to protect ethnic Russian and Russian speakers wherever they live. Over 25% of the population in Latvia and Estonia, our NATO allies, are ethnically Russian. Putin would like to rearrange the peace established at the end of the Cold War to weaken NATO and the EU. If we raise the cost of Putin’s adventure in Ukraine, he is less likely to cause trouble in the Baltics or elsewhere, including Syria. The forward defense of NATO requires us to help Ukraine stop Kremlin aggression before it reaches Poland and Central Europe. The world is watching Russia’s attempts to challenge international order and expand its influence across Europe. The time has come to strengthen our support for Ukraine and make clear the United States will strongly support those around the world who yearn for freedom, democratic governance, and the fundamental right of self-determination. Our actions to support Ukraine today will demonstrate clearly our determination to push back against authoritarians and despots seeking to undermine our democratic allies around the world.

There remains broad bipartisan support for Ukraine amongst the United States Congress and the American people. In 2014, Congress adopted the Ukraine Freedom Support Act (H.R. 5859), which authorized enhanced military and economic assistance for Ukraine. In the FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Congress supported an increased security assistance package for Ukraine, and has since expanded this package in both the FY 2016 and FY 2017 NDAA. Popular support for Ukraine remains robust and unwavering. Assistance should remain at this high level.

Providing Ukraine additional economic and military support is also important for our non-proliferation policy. In the Budapest Memorandum and pertinent side letters, the U.S., UK and France – along with Russia and China – gave Ukraine assurances of its sovereignty and territorial integrity in exchange for Ukraine surrendering its large nuclear arsenal. Moscow’s aggression towards Ukraine made a mockery of this agreement and provided a clear disincentive for countries to give up weapons of mass destruction in the future. Greater support for Ukraine can help redress this.

I applaud your recent statements indicating the United States will hold Moscow accountable to its Minsk Agreement commitments and oppose Russian belligerence towards Ukraine. I encourage you to continue your work supporting our democratic allies and combating autocratic regimes around the world. I can assure you – U.S. taxpayers, and their representatives in Congress, stand firmly in support of a strong, independent, and democratic Ukraine. I look forward to working closely with you on these important issues.

Very truly yours,

Member of Congress