U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Ukraine:
“Later today, members of Congress will have the opportunity to assemble in a Joint Meeting and hear from President Zelenskyy of Ukraine.
“I look forward to welcoming President Zelenskyy to the Capitol, and to hearing from the Ukrainian people’s elected leader at a critical moment in their struggle for their safety and sovereignty against Russia’s unhinged aggression. The people of Ukraine have reminded the entire free world about the meaning of sovereignty and the price of freedom. They’ve fought back against the invaders with inspiring bravery.
“And let’s be clear. The reason that a big bipartisan majority of the American people and big bipartisan majorities in Congress support continuing to assist Ukraine is not primarily about inspiring speeches or a desire to engage in philanthropy.
“The Ukrainian people are courageous and innocent and they deserve our help. President Zelenskyy is an inspiring leader. But the most basic reasons for continuing to help Ukraine degrade and defeat the Russian invaders are cold, hard, practical American interests.
“Helping equip our friends in Eastern Europe to win this war is also a direct investment in reducing Vladimir Putin’s future capabilities to menace America, threaten our allies, and contest our core interests.
“Defeating Russia’s aggression will help prevent further security crises in Europe.
“It will prevent even further economic chaos that would roil key American trading partners and hurt American workers and families directly.
“It will massively wear down the arsenal that is available to Putin for future efforts to use bullying and bloodshed to redraw still other borders down the road.
“And it will send a stark warning to other would-be aggressors like the People’s Republic of China.
“By assisting Ukraine today, America is directly demonstrating our commitment to the basic principles of territorial integrity and national sovereignty — changing the calculus for others considering military aggression and lowering the odds of far costlier and far more deadly future conflicts in the process.
“So I’ll say it one more time. Continuing our support for Ukraine is morally right, but it is not only that. It is also a direct investment in cold, hard, American interests.
“That’s why Republicans rejected the Biden Administration’s original request for Ukraine assistance as insufficient. The Administration’s initial plan assumed there would be a lull in fighting over the winter and so the disbursement rates of weapons would decrease. But hoping for the best cannot mean that we fail to prepare for the worst. Rather than slowing assistance, we should be speeding up international deliveries to Ukraine, to help them take back more territory and better prepare for whenever they next go on the offensive.
“So Republicans pushed hard here in the Senate to increase the amount of security assistance in this bill. I’m glad our Democratic colleagues came around.
“The agreement on the table increases weapons purchases to support Ukraine beyond the President’s request. This assistance is in our national security interest, but it’s also in America’s economic interest. These investments will help expand our defense manufacturing capacity and contribute to an industry that supports high-paying American jobs.
“The money is tied to strong oversight requirements to ensure that America’s investments reach only our intended targets. There has been meaningful oversight over our Ukraine assistance all along, including by three separate Inspectors General and the Government Accountability Office. And on top of that, last week’s NDAA will put in place even further expansions in oversight, more end-use monitoring, and stricter reporting requirements. And the oversight won’t stop there. Just as Senate ranking members have worked hard to maximize the impact of our assistance, the incoming House Republican majority will be able to use their gavels to keep an even closer eye on Ukraine aid and make sure the Biden Administration is doing everything possible to rebuild our defense-industrial base.
“While America is uniquely capable of leading this supporting effort, we should not, and are not, doing so alone. Vital Eastern Front allies and partners – in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Finland – have risen to the challenge of backing Ukraine in the fight against tyranny. So, too, have some Western European powers. And some allies across Europe deserve credit for changing course, making substantial investments in their own militaries, and starting to unwind years of neglect of national defense.
“But some other European allies have lagged behind. They can and must do more, both to stand with Ukraine today and rebuild their own strength going forward.
“Finally, we all know that Ukraine’s fight to retake its territory is neither the beginning nor end of the West’s broader strategic competition with Putin’s Russia. Increasing the pressure on Putin’s regime can and should be a bipartisan priority. That will take concrete steps, like sanctions with teeth, not empty symbolism. If our Democratic colleagues are serious about joining this effort, Republicans stand ready to expose Russia’s long trail of wartime atrocities and meaningfully ratchet up the economic and political costs that Russia pays for its misdeeds, from Ukraine to Georgia to Moldova to the Middle East and beyond.
“These threats and atrocities require more than symbols and resolutions. They require concrete actions and consequences.
“The plight of the innocent people of Ukraine is offering the world the starkest, most painful, and most personal reminder imaginable that global security and national self-determination do not uphold themselves. That peace is far from inevitable, and freedom is far from self-fulfilling. That countries who benefit from global stability need to help deter countries who want chaos.
“But even against the barbaric horrors of a war they never asked for — even in the face of torture, and executions, and inhumane attacks on infrastructure, and systematic terror campaigns against civilian cities — against all these things, against the cold fate that Putin has tried to deal Ukraine — we have seen the warmth of the Ukrainian people’s spirits win out. Their love for their homeland…. for their families… for their freedom.
“The United States Congress will be honored to hear the message that their courageous president brings to us on behalf of the brave citizens he represents.”