Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the Ranking Member on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, released the following statement regarding recent developments in eastern Ukraine.

“I am very concerned by recent developments in eastern Ukraine, where over the weekend pro-Russian demonstrators seized administration buildings in the cities of Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv. While the rights of protestors to freely express their views must be respected, I am disturbed by reports of violence, separatist rhetoric, and the presence of outside provocateurs who may be seeking to provide a pretext for further Russian aggression against Ukraine.

“It is important to note that local authorities in the cities involved are united in their commitment to Ukrainian statehood and to political dialogue, including participation in the May elections. Likewise, I urge all Ukrainians to avoid violence and confrontation, and to address any grievances through Ukraine’s political process. At the same time, Russia must refrain from further threats and destabilizing actions against Ukraine, and the United States and its European allies must continue to stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and for the right of its people to chart their own future.”

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Last week, President Obama signed into law P.L. 113-95, of which Rep. Engel was a lead sponsor, which provides $1 billion in loan guarantees and other assistance to Ukraine and imposes sanctions for the Russian invasion and occupation of Ukraine.