Old Prejudices Revive: Jews and Gypsies Under Attack in the Ukraine.

The Roma are an ancient people, deserving of our respect.
The Roma are an ancient people, deserving of our respect.

(Washington, DC) In response to incidents in Ukraine targeting minority communities, Senator Ben Cardin (MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, made the following statement:


“I am deeply disturbed by the recent attacks and threats against minority groups in eastern Ukraine, including Jews, Roma and Crimean Tatars. The Joint Statement on Ukraine signed on April 17 by the EU, the United States, Russia and Ukraine calls on all sides to refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions and condemns and rejects all expressions of extremism, racism and religious intolerance, including anti-Semitism.


“In recent days, we have seen troubling manifestations against ethnic and religious minority communities. In Donetsk, leaflets have been distributed calling for Jews to register their religion and list property, and Molotov cocktails have been thrown at a synagogue in Mykolaiv. In Sloviansk, armed separatists have reportedly invaded Romani houses, beating and robbing inhabitants. In largely Russian-speaking Donetsk oblast, even Ukrainian-speakers, such as Ukrainian-language media, have reportedly experienced intimidation. At the same time, in the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula, Crimean Tatars continue to be threatened with deportation and assaulted for speaking their own language.


“These attacks underscore the importance of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission and other OSCE institutions in Ukraine in assessing the situation on the ground and helping to de-escalate tensions. They need to be permitted to operate unhindered in eastern Ukraine and need to be allowed access into Crimea, which Russia has thus far blocked.


“The actions against minorities are the direct result of Russia’s unfounded and illegal aggression towards Ukraine – first in Crimea and now in eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin needs to keep the Geneva promises and immediately rein in the militants.


“I commend the Ukrainian government for its denunciation of attacks and threats against minorities and its pledge to find those responsible and bring them to justice.  It is imperative that the Russian-controlled separatist groups cease their de-stabilizing and violent activity.”

ZunZuneo Twitter Program in Cuba, Funded by USAID, Gets Support from Congress.


Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement regarding the Cuba Twitter program.

“I commend USAID for its commitment to supporting programs that provide uncensored access to information and communications for for the Cuban people and others struggling around the globe against repression, censorship and the denial of basic human rights. Global internet freedom programs, U.S. International broadcasting and support for human rights activists are all fundamental components of our country’s longstanding efforts to promote democracy overseas.

“For more than five decades, the Cuban government has kept its people in the dark about the world around them.  In an era where the power of the internet and social media have transformed societies, the Cuban people are severely limited in their ability to communicate among themselves, much less with the outside world. They are censored and monitored by the Castro regime and have yet to benefit from the exchange of ideas through the internet.

“For more than 50 years, the U.S. has had an unwavering commitment to promote freedom of information in the world.  Our work in Cuba is no different than our efforts to promote freedom of expression and uncensored access to information in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Iran, China or North Korea. Let’s not forget that it was the power of our ideals and our ideas that brought down the Berlin Wall.  Although the internet and Twitter were not around during the Cold War, those oppressed by Soviet communism learned of democracy and human rights through similar initiatives USAID employs today.

“I feel we owe it to the millions of Cubans who long for democracy and the chance to shape their own destinies to continue to try to bypass the iron grip of the Castro regime in making available information to them through the internet and traditional means.”


Senate Considers Retaliation Options Against Crimea-Gobbling Russians.


Washington, D.C. – The United States should support the Ukraine during the ongoing escalation with Russia. But in the process, America shouldn’t give up its international influence and pick up the tab for $63 billion in international aid that has nothing to do with the crisis in Ukraine. That was the message of U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., who voted against moving forward to the Ukraine bill because it included unrelated measures that could diminish our country’s influence at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Ukraine bill authorizes security, financial, and technical support for Ukraine, but also makes changes to the United States’ role at the IMF and how much the United States contributes to the international body. These changes to the IMF have no place in the bill, according to Enzi, because they are not related to Ukraine. The changes were initially proposed by the IMF in 2010 and are supported by the Obama Administration but have not gained traction in Congress until now.

“I am extremely concerned with the situation in the Ukraine. Action must be taken against Russia, but that doesn’t mean Congress should blindly sign off on a bill that diminishes America’s international influence while costing us more than $60 billion,” said Enzi. “This should be an opportunity to support one of our allies at a critical moment, but instead is being used to sneak through provisions that have not been able to pass through the regular legislative process.”

Enzi favors an open amendment process that would allow for votes on proposals to remove the IMF reform sections, expand natural gas exports to Ukraine, among others.

The Senate voted 78-17 in favor of moving forward with the bill and will continue consideration on the Senate floor this week.





Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today released the following statement on the crisis in Ukraine:

“The crisis in Ukraine calls for a far more significant response from the United States. Today’s Executive Order could be an important part of that response, but sanctioning only seven Russian officials is wholly inadequate at this stage.

“Russia has invaded, and appears ready to dismember, a sovereign country. It has massed military forces on Ukraine’s border, and it is actively raising tensions and provoking instability across eastern Ukraine. In the absence of a stronger U.S. and Western response to this aggression, we run the risk of signaling to Putin that he can be even more expansive in furthering his old imperial ambitions, not only in Ukraine, but also in Central and Eastern Europe, the Baltic countries, and parts of Central Asia.

“Most urgently, we must expand our efforts to support Ukraine’s government and people. The United States and NATO should rush plane-loads of food and other humanitarian assistance to Ukrainian soldiers and civilians in eastern Ukraine. We should also work through the OSCE to approve and deploy a large civilian monitoring mission in eastern Ukraine that could help set the record straight about alleged threats to ethnic Russians and reveal Putin’s effort to inflame the situation as a pretext for further aggression. Most importantly, the presence of these civilians on the ground might cause Putin to think twice about expanding his war into eastern Ukraine.

“Similarly, the Administration should rush the modest military assistance to the Ukrainian government that its leaders have requested. Ukraine needs a long-term assistance program to rebuild and reform its military, and the United States should play a leading role in that effort. But Ukraine has urgent needs to defend itself now. All of the Ukrainian officials that I and seven of my Senate colleagues met last weekend in Kyiv reiterated their government’s request for some small arms and ammunition, as well as significant non-lethal assistance, such as protective equipment, spare parts, fuel, and sharing of intelligence. No one, including Ukraine’s leaders, deny that Ukraine is militarily out-matched by Russia. But when victims of aggression beseech us for better means to defend themselves from further aggression, free peoples should provide that assistance. That is the right and decent thing to do.

“Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has also shaken many of our NATO allies, especially those with ethnic Russian populations of their own that fear they may be Putin’s next
target. NATO’s modest increase of force presence and military exercises in Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic countries has been a good first step. But now is the time to enhance this security cooperation dramatically. NATO should also take all necessary steps to expand the alliance to include countries such as Georgia and Montenegro as soon as possible.

“At the same time, the United States must lead the West in imposing greater costs on Russia for its aggression against Ukraine. We should expand our campaign of targeted sanctions far beyond those seven persons designated today and cut off the most corrupt Russian government officials, companies, and financial institutions from western economies. This United States should use the Magnitsky Act to sanction additional Russian officials for their gross violations of human rights. Finally, Russia’s leaders should face a more assertive effort to isolate them internationally, including by repeated votes in the U.N. Security Council and a G-7 boycott of the G-8 Summit in Sochi.

“The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed legislation last week on a strong bipartisan basis that would contribute to all of these efforts to support Ukraine and impose greater costs on Russia. In particular, this legislation includes vital financial support and other assistance that can help Ukraine prepare for elections on May 25. It is essential for that vote to occur as scheduled. The full Senate should take up and pass this legislation with no further delay so that it can be reconciled with House legislation and sent to the President to become law.

“The United States and our allies and partners must remain committed to supporting the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Ukraine, which includes Crimea. How we respond to Putin’s flagrant aggression in Ukraine is being watched far beyond Europe. From Asia and the Middle East to here in our own hemisphere, America’s friends and adversaries are paying close attention to this crisis. They are watching to see whether President Obama’s actions match his rhetoric, and they will respond accordingly.

“The crisis in Ukraine is about more than Ukraine. It is also about the credibility of America’s global leadership and whether the future will be defined by the values of the West, or by dictators and aggressors who think they can bully the free world into submission. We must recognize that reality and be equal to it.”


Russia Invades Ukraine; Sen. Kelly Ayotte Demands U.S. Respond Quickly.

When disturbed, he always shoots first and asks questions later.
When disturbed, he always shoots first and asks questions later.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), a Senate Armed Services Committee member, released the following statement regarding U.S. policy toward Russia in the wake of Russia’s invasion of the Crimea:

“From Syria, to Snowden, to the Crimea, the administration’s “reset” with Russia is a failure. It’s urgent that we reset the reset policy. The administration’s weakness and accommodation toward Russia has only invited disdain and aggression from Putin. Putin’s actions in Crimea demonstrate a brazen disregard for international law, Russia’s prior commitments, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, as well as the statements and warnings of this administration. The time for administration statements and red lines is over.

“The U.S. should move without delay to inflict concrete consequences on Putin for his invasion and occupation of sovereign Ukrainian territory. At a minimum, the U.S. and our European allies should implement strong financial and diplomatic sanctions against the Putin regime, including asset freezes and visa bans. The administration should also make clear that the G-8 will not occur in Russia as long as Russian troops are occupying Ukrainian or Georgian territory. Instead, the administration should work to hold a G-7 summit in Europe or the United States.

“The U.S. should also make clear that it will stand with the people of Ukraine by working with our European allies to deliver a quick and reasonable IMF economic aid package to Kyiv, exploring the possibility of exporting significant quantities of U.S. natural gas to Ukraine, and providing increased assistance to the Ukrainian military.

“The administration should also revisit plans to further strengthen missile defenses in Europe.”

Sen. Kelly Ayotte.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte.