Chairman Royce Opening Statement for Hearing on Malaysia Flight 17, Crisis in UkrainePress Release
Washington, D.C. – This morning, the House Foreign Affairs Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats subcommittee and the Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade subcommittee will convene a joint subcommittee hearing entitled, “The Shootdown of Malaysian Flight 17 and the Escalating Crisis in Ukraine.” Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, who recently traveled to Eastern Ukraine in April, will deliver the following opening statement.
Live webcast and witness testimony will be available HERE.
Below is Chairman Royce’s opening statement as prepared for delivery at the hearing:
“The destruction of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 shocked the world. The evidence that the plane was shot down by the Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine using an SA-11 missile provided by Moscow is overwhelming.
Far from expressing remorse, Moscow and the separatists are pouring out propaganda and conspiracy theories in a desperate attempt to cover up their responsibility. The militias in control of the crash site still refuse to allow investigators freedom to examine the wreckage. Last week, along with the Ranking Member, I urged the Administration to press for a United Nations Resolution to authorize security for international investigators at the crash site.
The violence in eastern Ukraine is increasing as Russia has stepped up its active support for the separatist militias, including supplying even more advanced weapons.
However, it is still possible that something positive can be pulled from this tragedy, but only if the U.S. and our allies in Europe and elsewhere aim at achieving more than a simple ceasefire or cooperation with the investigation. Instead, our focus should be on forcing Putin to end his support for the rebels and compel them to accept President Poroshenko’s generous peace plan, which requires them to lay down their weapons in return for amnesty.
The Administration already possesses the authority to impose a broad range of sanctions. HR 4278, the Ukraine Support Act, which I introduced with Ranking Member Engel and which passed the House in March, expanded the President’s authority to increase assistance for democracy and civil society programs, and the enhanced U.S. international broadcasting needed to counter Russian propaganda.
The Administration has also approved $23 million in non-lethal security assistance since early March and has proposed a $40 million program to train and equip elements of the Ukrainian National Guard.
The announcement yesterday that the U.S. and the EU have agreed to impose new sanctions, including on the defense, financial, and energy sectors, is an acknowledgement that the actions taken to date have been insufficient to deter Putin.
Given that the Europeans can bring far greater leverage to bear on Russia than the U.S., the responsibility falls heavily on them to convince Putin that his current course cannot succeed and will only bring increasing pain to his country, especially its economy. Only under this pressure is he likely to choose peace and finally allow the Ukrainian people to achieve the security, prosperity, and freedom they have sought for so long.”