WASHINGTON—In response to increased Russian aggression against Ukraine, Helsinki Commission Chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (MD) and Commissioner Rep. Richard Hudson (NC-08) initiated an exceptional bilateral meeting with members of the Ukrainian Delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) on April 30.
Chairman Cardin, who serves as Head of the U.S. Delegation to the Assembly, and Rep. Hudson, who is a member of the delegation and chairs the OSCE PA’s General Committee on Political Affairs and Security, sought the meeting to express the support of the United States for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and to solicit the Ukrainian lawmakers’ perspectives on the ongoing crisis. Ukrainian participants included parliamentarians Mykyta Poturaiev (Head of Delegation) and Artur Gerasymov (Deputy Head of Delegation).
The exchange, which focused on the recent massing of Russian forces on Ukraine’s eastern border and in occupied Crimea, and the closure by Russia of parts of the Black Sea and the Azov Sea, also covered topics including:
- The militarization of occupied Crimea and widespread violations of fundamental freedoms there, with particular persecution directed toward Crimean Tatars
- The Crimean Platform, a Ukrainian diplomatic initiative to mobilize world leaders to raise the cost of Russia’s occupation of the peninsula, with the ultimate goal of de-occupation
- The effects of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline on Russian influence in Europe
- The importance of continued reform processes in Ukraine, including in ensuring the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary and of Ukraine’s anti-corruption bodies
Chairman Cardin and Rep. Hudson reiterated Congress’ strong and bipartisan support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Chairman Cardin underscored that the United States stood with Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression, which “violated every principle of the Helsinki Final Act,” he stated. He added that the Ukraine Security Partnership Act unanimously approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 21 codified the U.S. security commitment to Ukraine and support for the Crimean Platform initiative, among other measures designed to strengthen the bilateral relationship.
The United States remained “strongly and firmly united in our support for Ukraine,” Rep. Hudson said, pledging continued resolve in ensuring this message was clear to Russian authorities. Hudson, recalling a statement issued in his capacity as OSCE PA committee chair on April 7, also expressed readiness to engage fully in the parliamentary dimension of the Crimean Platform.
In addition, the U.S. and Ukrainian delegates discussed plans for the 2021 Annual Session to be held remotely in late June and early July.