WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the leading Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement regarding American policy toward the situation in Ukraine:

“I agree with President Obama that a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis would be the best option. I’m not sure President Putin agrees. He has ignored the Minsk ceasefire agreement, and in fact has taken every opportunity escalate the war in Eastern Ukraine.

“I was in Munich over the weekend and met with Ukrainian President Poroshenko. He described in vivid detail the Russian occupation, the murder of Ukrainian citizens, the need for weapons to fight back, and the hope that the United States would provide defensive weapons.

“Russian troops and weapons continue to inflict violence on the people of Ukraine and trample Ukrainian sovereignty. As we search for a diplomatic path forward, we can help Ukraine protect itself and dramatically raise the costs for Mr. Putin by providing defensive weapons. I’m glad that the President is considering this course of action.

“At the same time, we need to bear in mind that the future of Ukrainian democracy depends on a stable and vibrant Ukrainian economy. Providing economic assistance to Ukraine today is a smart investment in the security and prosperity of Ukraine and Europe for the years ahead. I'm glad that the President's budget adds $100 million for Ukraine over last year and that the Administration plans an additional $2 billion in loan guarantees.

“In the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, Congress gave the President authority to offer both economic and lethal defensive assistance. Now’s the time to use those authorities, and I urge the President to take these steps.”