Washington, D.C. – Currently, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), is considering the bipartisan “Ukraine Support Act” (H.R. 4278), legislation to promote Ukraine’s sovereignty and democratic institutions while sanctioning those who have sought to undermine Ukraine’s independence and stability.  Chairman Royce and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) introduced the legislation last Friday.

Information about the Ukraine Support Act, including a section-by-section summary, is available HERE.  Live webcast of the markup is available HERE.

Below is Chairman Royce’s opening statement in support of H.R. 4278, as prepared for delivery at the markup:

“Russia’s armed intervention in Ukraine and its illegal annexation of Crimea have created an international crisis.  The danger is far from over.  Putin has deployed Russian forces on Ukraine’s borders and may yet attempt to carve off additional pieces of that.  If we wish to prevent him from further aggression, the U.S. and our allies must take immediate action to strengthen Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence and target responsible Russian officials and others.

This bill provides much-needed assistance to Ukraine’s struggling democracy, which will be tested in the presidential election scheduled for May 25th.  This includes security assistance. It also supports the reform of its police force and the removal of those responsible for the violence against peaceful protestors.  In addition, it promotes economic reform, anti-corruption efforts, the recovery of assets stolen by former Ukrainian officials and other urgently needed measures.

This legislation enhances the availability of accurate news and information needed to counter the propaganda Moscow is using to create confusion, fear, and unrest in Ukraine.  It authorizes increased funding for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Voice of America to enable them to expand their broadcasting in Russian, Ukrainian, and Tatar.

If we are to help Ukraine break free of Russia’s grip, we must help it escape from Moscow’s control over its energy supply.  The U.S. has a readily available tool to help accomplish that goal, which is to remove existing restrictions on our export of oil and natural gas.  This will not only boost the U.S. economy and create American jobs, but also enhance our national security by undermining Russia’s ability to use its energy exports to blackmail other countries, including our allies in Europe.  Tomorrow, the Committee will hold a hearing on the very important and timely subject of the geopolitical potential of U.S. energy exports, which is of direct relevance to the situation we face in Ukraine. 

This bill ramps up pressure on Putin and his accomplices who have played key roles in Russia’s aggression.  By specifically targeting them, we can demonstrate that they will pay a heavy personal price for the confrontation they have engineered.  The sanctions are aimed not only at the government officials but also at those who hold no official position but nevertheless wield great influence over government policy, including the so-called oligarchs. 

I am pleased to have worked closely with Ranking Member Engel on this bipartisan bill.  I believe it will send a clear message of American resolve that will be heard in Kiev, in Moscow, and throughout the region.”