April 11, 2022 - A statement from the Government Affairs and Outreach Committee of the Ukrainian-American Crisis Response Committee:
The Russian Federation’s unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine has now entered its sixth week. There are thousands of confirmed civilian deaths and thousands more yet counted. Approximately 11 million Ukrainians—almost a third of the country’s population—are now either refugees or internally displaced persons.The Russian army has forcefully removed thousands of others to Russia. Ukraine continues to heroically resist Russian aggression and has liberated some occupied territories.
The international community has condemned this act of war, overwhelmingly passed a UN Resolution calling on Russia to end the war, developed a UN committee to investigate allegations of Russian war crimes in Ukraine, and levied harsh economic and financial sanctions on the Russian government and its enablers. However, the sanctions are not thorough—they have left loopholes, and their intended impact is yet to be realized. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military and innocent civilians, including women, children, elderly, and disabled, die in this brutal war every day, while cities are being destroyed and the environment contaminated for generations to come. Ukraine simply cannot wait months or years for the full effect of sanctions to materialize.
Ukraine requires urgent and immediate military assistance to resist Russia’s ever intensifying onslaught against the people, the territorial integrity, and the sovereignty of Ukraine. Not only is Ukraine’s existence at stake, but so is the future of liberal democracy in eastern Europe.
Every day, civilians in cities like Mariupol are bombarded by the Russian air force, land-based artillery, and navy. On March 16, 2022, Russia’s aerial bombing of the Mariupol Regional Drama Theatre — where over a thousand civilians were seeking shelter — tragically resulted in the death of an estimated 300 people. The dead included pregnant women, children, and the elderly, despite the word “CHILDREN” being written on the ground outside the building to signal to the besieging army that the theatre was a civilian target.
For days after Russian assurances that forces around Kyiv were being withdrawn, intense shelling of civilian objects and ground attacks continued. Currently, the Russian Federation’s forces are regrouping for a major offensive likely intended to conquer Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region and the entire Ukrainian coastline on the Black Sea, effectively turning Ukraine into a landlocked country. Russian cruise missiles continue striking Odesa, Mykolaiv, Dnipro, Chernihiv, and other Ukrainian cities, destroying infrastructure, agriculture, water supplies, and homes. Such indiscriminate attacks purposefully terrorize the civilian population throughout Ukraine.
In the meantime, Russian state media promotes the possibility of invading Poland and the Baltic states. Even the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine is within the Kremlin’s range of possibilities.
With the circulation of gruesome and heartbreaking images documenting mass graves and civilians tied up and executed in the streets of Bucha and other Kyiv suburbs, it is clearer than ever before that the Russian war machine must be stopped. We must act today to support Ukraine’s right to engage in self-defense against external aggression as enshrined in Article 51 of the UN Charter.
We therefore ask for your support in the following areas:
Expand and strengthen sanctions on the Russian government and supporters of the regime and this war. Sanctions will have far-reaching, but relatively slow, effects on Russia’s economy and its ability to continue waging this war. While some impact has already been seen, much more can be done by specifically targeting technology imports, supply chains, and the energy sector. Complete disconnection from SWIFT will also hit Russia hard. The Russian Federation will only end this war when it can no longer afford to wage this war. Importantly, further sanctions will convey a powerful message to the Russian government and discourage it from committing further illegal actions. Stronger sanctions will hasten an end to this unjustified aggression.
Ensure the timely supply of much-needed weapons to Ukraine. While sanctions will cripple Russia’s war machine, they take time to work. In the meantime, Ukraine needs more weapons -now- to defend itself and its citizens from this brutal, illegal invasion. Among other things, Ukraine needs ammunition, body armor, anti-tank weapons, anti-ship missiles, heavy artillery, vehicles, and portable anti-air weapons (MANPADS). Ukraine also desperately needs sophisticated, long-range air defense systems, such as the S-300, as well as aircraft to protect its skies from Russian bombers and cruise missiles. Supplying these weapons will give Ukraine the ability to continue to defend itself until expanded sanctions have time to take effect.
The United States, along with its allies in the EU, NATO, the OSCE, and the UN, must follow through on promises to levy and enforce sanctions and provide weapons to Ukraine. Time is of the essence. Every day that the Russian Federation’s war continues means more civilians killed, more environmental contamination, and more cities pointlessly destroyed.
Commitments to help Ukraine must be acted upon as expeditiously as possible in order to minimize any further devastation to Ukraine and its people.