Bipartisan senators push US toward war over Russian assault on Ukraine

As Ukraine employs new long-range rocket systems, Kyiv is telling the world it can defeat Russian forces, and it is citing evidence but it is unclear whether the country might prevail against a military invader with superior numbers and weaponry — or even what a victory would look like.

A resolution asserting that Russia’s actions constitute a genocide against the people of Ukraine, was introduced today by U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Jim Risch (R-ID), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

The lawmakers cited Russian actions, including forced deportations to Russia and the purposeful killing of Ukrainian civilians in mass atrocities, as examples of the war crimes that have resulted from the invasion.

The senators introduced the resolution shortly after Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, delivered an impassioned plea directly to Congress.

“Since the beginning of Russia’s brutal assault on Ukraine, Russian forces have demonstrated a clear pattern of targeting and killing Ukrainian civilians en masse, while also deliberately shelling schools, maternity wards, hospitals, homes, apartment buildings, and other civilian infrastructure,” said Portman. “They are also committing heinous acts of sexual violence and forcibly deporting hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia.”

“This resolution rightly condemns Putin’s systematic torture and murder of Ukrainian people as a genocide,” said Blumenthal. “During my trip to Kyiv and Bucha, I saw the fields where hundreds of Ukrainian women and children were massacred, their hands tied behind their backs, simply because they were Ukrainian.”

“These inhumane practices are genocide, ongoing in real-time,” said Blumenthal. “As Russian atrocities continue, the United States must stand up to these crimes against humanity and designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism. The rule of law must prevail.”

“Combined with Russia’s consistent denial of the existence of Ukrainian nationhood and identity, these acts must be acknowledged for what they are – genocide – and it is important that the United States and the rest of the world recognize them as such,” said Portman.

The steps being taken to hasten the end of this war could make World War III more likely. 

“There is no question that what Russia is doing in Ukraine is a genocide,” said Risch. “If you could walk the streets of Kyiv, Irpin, and Hostomel like I did last month, and listen to the stories of what the Russian soldiers have done, this is a genocide. The international community is documenting the many Russian abuses that constitute war crimes across Ukraine. It’s time the United States and the world recognize it as such.”

“For five months, the world has seen the brutal, unjustified, and utterly senseless war Russia’s dictator has unleashed on Ukraine,” said Cardin. “Russia is trying to eviscerate not just the people and the buildings of Ukraine, but also they are trying to eliminate the Ukrainian language, Ukrainian history and Ukrainian culture. This is genocide. The world must recognize this fact and those responsible must be held accountable.”

“Russia’s war on Ukraine and its wider aggression in the region are illegal and genocidal, and it is important that the U.S. declare that fact to the world,” said Wicker. “Ukraine must be successful in this war. Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked aggression against a neighbor cannot stand.”

“Vladimir Putin is waging a campaign of violence and terror in Ukraine that specifically targets civilians and seeks to wipe out the Ukrainian culture and its people. The United States needs to call it what it is and the global community must respond accordingly. These are acts of genocide and must be stopped now,” said Shaheen. “Our resolution sends a powerful message from the U.S. Senate that we will not take our eyes off of Ukraine and we will keep working together to help our democratic partners defend their rights and to see Putin punished for his atrocities.”

“This resolution designates Putin’s actions in Ukraine as genocide – there is no other conclusion to reach,” said Graham. “It is time for Congress not only to speak but to act, and it is long past due for the Biden administration to designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism.”

This resolution:

  • Condemns Russia for committing acts of genocide against the people of Ukraine;
  • Calls on the United States, along with NATO and EU allies, to support the government of Ukraine to prevent further acts of Russian genocide against the Ukrainian people; and
  • Supports tribunals and international criminal investigations to hold Russian political leaders and military personnel accountable for a war of aggression, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shook hands.

During discussions in Geneva about one month before the invasion, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov repeated denials that a huge Russian force assembled near Ukraine’s borders would be used to wage war against Ukraine and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said America would respond severely to any invasion.

It turns out they were both lying, as Russian troops crossed Ukraine’s borders on February 24, 2022, but the United States and its NATO allies have done nothing except provide some resources to the defenders along with imposing sanctions that do little to hurt the former Soviet empire’s ruling oligarchs.

While Western countries are unified as never before, Ukraine is being pummelled, and the risks of NATO’s direct confrontation with Russia are intensifying.

To their credit, the United States, the European Union, Australia, Canada, and Japan jointly enacted swift and unprecedented sanctions on major Russian financial institutions and the political and business elite, essentially isolating Russia from the global economy in ways previously unthinkable.

The Ukraine war has been devastating enough for civilians in that country, but it also carries the seeds of a graver global threat.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been rather explicitly threatening to escalate to using nuclear arms, particularly if Western countries get in his way.

President Joe Biden has sought to reassure Americans that a nuclear exchange is unlikely.

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