Kyiv Post

Defenders In DC

Meet Ukraine’s best friends on Capitol Hill

- By Igor Kossov and Liliane Bivings kossov@ kyivpost.com bivings@ kyivpost.com

The American flag flies above the U.S. Capitol building on June 16, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Ukraine enjoys bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, where senators and representa­tives have fought tooth and nail to increase financial and military aid for Ukraine and impose sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline under the Baltic Sea.

When Joe Biden won the U.S. presidenti­al election in November, Ukrainian leaders grew excited.

Perhaps now, they thought, the country’s biggest ally against Russia would be squarely in Ukraine’s corner. Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s promises of support stoked hope that the U.S. would crack down on Russian attempts to weaken and isolate Ukraine.

But soon, these hopes were shaken when the Biden administra­tion waived sanctions on the main consortium building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline through the Baltic Sea. Many also saw Biden’s subsequent meeting with Vladimir Putin as wishy-washy, leaving Ukraine’s future uncertain.

Fortunatel­y, Ukraine has several dozen advocates from both the Democrat and Republican parties in both houses of the U. S. Congress. These lawmakers have pressured the American government to increase military and civilian aid to Ukraine

and sanction companies working for Russia against Ukraine’s interests.

The Kyiv Post has put together a list of them.

Congressio­nal Ukrainian Caucus

The Congressio­nal Ukrainian Caucus, or the CUC, was formed in June 1997, six years after Ukraine

declared its independen­ce.

From the outset, its mission has been “to organize an associatio­n

of members of Congress who share a common concern for building stronger bilateral relations between Ukraine and the United States.”

And if the Biden administra­tion has disappoint­ed its Ukrainian allies lately, representa­tives in the House Ukrainian Caucus have been working hard on Capitol Hill to secure more security funding for Ukraine and to make sure that Nord Stream 2 is never filled with gas.

On July 2, a House panel, led by Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio’s 9th district, passed an amendment to repeal the U. S. State Department’s waiver on Nord Stream 2 sanctions.

“These sanctions are mandatory, not discretion­ary,” Kaptur said after the amendment passed. The House panel passed it unanimousl­y on a bipartisan basis. The bill will go to the House floor for a full vote before the end of session in September.

In June, the House passed a bill to increase funding for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative from $250 million in 2020 to $275 million in 2021.

According to Kaptur, these funds are critical “to deter further Russian incursions on Ukrainian sovereignt­y and protect Europe’s eastern flank from Kremlin aggression that has already caused the deaths of over 14,000 and the displaceme­nt of millions more.”

The CUC is also fighting corruption in Ukraine. On June 22, CUC leadership released a letter, suggesting that Austria’s judiciary had been corrupted by Dmytro Firtash, one of Ukraine’s wealthiest businessme­n. The co-chairs demanded more be done to force the extraditio­n of the Ukrainian oligarch from Austria to the United States.

Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)

Marcy Kaptur visited Ukraine for the first time in 1975 on a “family visitation” visa with her mother to find her grandparen­ts’ village Kaptur and her mother drove much of the way from Paris by car; in Ukraine, they traveled by train to dive deeper into the country where the roads were impassable. Since then, Kaptur has returned to Ukraine numerous times.

“Some of the greatest trips of my life have been to Ukraine,” Kaptur told the Kyiv Post.

Since that first trip, Kaptur, the longest-serving female member of Congress, has remained a staunch supporter of Ukraine. In the eighties, even before co-founding the CUC, Kaptur was involved and supported a Congressio­nal commission set up to recognize the Holodomor, a Soviet genocide of Ukrainian people.

In 1997, Kaptur co-founded the CUC. Kaptur says of the decision to create the caucus that while very little attention was paid to Ukraine at the time, she knew from her travels how vital Ukraine was for world history.

“I didn’t want (Ukraine) in the hands of people who would exploit it and I didn’t want history to repeat itself,” she said.

Over her more than 30-year career in Congress, Kaptur grew

confident of Congress’s ability to support Ukraine.

“Administra­tions come and go, but Congress is an equal branch of our government and Congress has been fighting for Ukraine for 30 years,” she said.

As a member of the House Defense Committee, Kaptur was also part of the coalition that increased Ukraine’s security assistance by $10 million in the State Foreign Operations bill.

If anyone doubts Biden’s commitment to Ukraine, Kaptur remains confident that the U.S. president knows how much Ukraine means to our country and to liberty around the world.

“I have high hopes for the Biden administra­tion and for what we can do together— Congress and the executive branch,” she said.

Brian Fitzpatric­k (R-PA)

Representa­tive Brian Fitzpatric­k, a Republican member of Congress from Pennsylvan­ia’s 1st congressio­nal district, first came to Kyiv in 2015 as an FBI officer.

As a specialist in anti-corruption at the FBI, the agency sent Fitzpatric­k to Ukraine as part of the efforts to establish good governance in the country following the EuroMaidan Revolution. During his time in Ukraine, he helped to set up the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), considered the most effective and independen­t anti-corruption body.

The member of Congress has been publically vocal about his opposition to the former Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Viktor Shokin, who was ousted in 2016 by Ukraine’s parliament, saying that Shokin “was not cooperativ­e with the FBI’s anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine and posed a hindrance regarding investigat­ive matters.”

In 2016, Fitzpatric­k left the FBI to run for Congress where he serves as co-chair of the CUC. He has received several awards and speaking invitation­s from various Ukrainian groups.

“The US is a beacon of democracy across the world,” Representa­tive Fitzpatric­k said at the time. “Our foreign policy has to reflect that and continue to empower the Ukrainian people as you all seek your own reforms for prosperity, equality, and transparen­cy.”

Mike Quigley (D-IL)

In 2019, Congressma­n Mike Quiqley, a Democrat from Illinois’s fifth congressio­nal district was appointed to serve as co-chair of the CUC, after many years as a member.

“Through several visits to Ukraine, my position on the House Intelligen­ce and Appropriat­ions Committees, and my representa­tion of a prominent and active Ukrainian-American community, I’ve seen firsthand the importance of a strong U.S.-Ukraine relationsh­ip,” Quigley said of his appointmen­t to co-chair in 2019.

Last year, Quigley, along with Kaptur, sent a letter to President Volodymyr Zelensky, calling on the Ukrainian president to proceed with a “consensual approach” in talks with wind- and solar energy producers in the wake of a months-long dispute with green energy producers that threatens foreign investment.

Andy Harris (R-MD)

Representa­tive Andy Harris, a Republican congressma­n from Maryland’s 1st district, has been a member of Congress since 2010, and currently serves as co-chair of the CUC. Harris’s mother comes from Ukraine and is largely his inspiratio­n for supporting Ukraine.

Harris has remained firm in con

demning Russia’s aggression in Ukraine since the 2014 annexation of Crimea as well as the war in the Donbas, sponsoring the House resolution, “Calling on the Russian Federation to stop the violence in Ukraine” in 2017.

Despite his vocal support for Ukraine, in 2019 Harris repeated unsupporte­d claims that thenVice President Biden pressured the Ukrainian government to fire its top prosecutor to squash an investigat­ion into Hunter Biden’s business activities in Ukraine.

“I don’t think anything was done wrong in the Zelensky phone call,” Harris said, adding: “If I had someone running in a race who had gone and bragged about a $1 billion quid pro quo, getting a prosecutor fired who was in charge of potentiall­y investigat­ing his son’s company.”

These allegation­s have been widely debunked.

In 2020, Harris also denied that then-President Donald Trump tried to pressure President Zelensky to investigat­e President Biden during the 2020 elections.

Allies in the Senate

Ukraine has allies in the U. S. Senate as well, particular­ly among ranking members of the important Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Recently, committee members introduced and approved the bipartisan Ukraine Security Partnershi­p Act. This draft law provides for grants, loans and military training aid to Ukraine through fiscal year 2026.

The act would authorize $300 million in foreign military financing, of which $150 million would be subject to conditions. It also contains

 ??  ??
 ??  ?? U.S. Representa­tive Brian Fitzpatric­k (R-PA)
U.S. Representa­tive Brian Fitzpatric­k (R-PA)
 ??  ?? U.S. Representa­tive Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
U.S. Representa­tive Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
 ??  ?? U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
 ??  ?? U.S. Representa­tive Andy Harris (R-MD)
U.S. Representa­tive Andy Harris (R-MD)
 ??  ?? U.S. Representa­tive Mike Quigley (D-IL)
U.S. Representa­tive Mike Quigley (D-IL)
 ??  ?? U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT)
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT)
 ??  ?? U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ)
U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ)
 ??  ?? U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)
U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)
 ??  ?? From left, United States senators Rob Portman, Jeanne Shaheen, and Chris Murphy address reporters at a briefing near the Office of the President in Kyiv on June 2, 2021. The bipartisan congressio­nal delegation visited Ukraine on June 1-2 to show bipartisan support for Ukraine’s fight against Russian aggression and the country’s progress on reforms.
From left, United States senators Rob Portman, Jeanne Shaheen, and Chris Murphy address reporters at a briefing near the Office of the President in Kyiv on June 2, 2021. The bipartisan congressio­nal delegation visited Ukraine on June 1-2 to show bipartisan support for Ukraine’s fight against Russian aggression and the country’s progress on reforms.
 ??  ?? U.S. President Joe Biden speaks with Congresswo­man Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) as he arrives at Cleveland Hopkins Internatio­nal Airport in Cleveland, Ohio, on May 27, 2021.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks with Congresswo­man Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) as he arrives at Cleveland Hopkins Internatio­nal Airport in Cleveland, Ohio, on May 27, 2021.

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