UKRAINE; Congressional Record Vol. 160, No. 36
(Senate - March 04, 2014)

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[Pages S1260-S1262]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. McCAIN. I thank my colleague from Connecticut for his thoughtful 
remarks on events taking place and the tragedies taking place in 
Ukraine as we speak. I appreciate his commitment to trying to find a 
way through this very difficult situation.
  The Senator is dead wrong when he says this is similar to Georgia. In 
fact, this Senator wanted to do a lot more than we did. In fact, we did 
a lot more. The fundamental problem, I say to my friend from 
Connecticut, is that this President does not understand Vladimir Putin. 
He does not understand his ambitions. He does not understand that 
Vladimir Putin is an old KGB colonel bent on restoration of the Russian 
empire. It was Vladimir Putin who said: The greatest catastrophe of the 
20th century was the downfall of the Soviet Union.
  The Senator from Connecticut should understand that. This President 
has never understood this. This President is the one who ridiculed Mitt 
Romney when Mitt Romney said our great enemy was Russia and its 
geopolitical threats. This President said the Cold War has been over 
for 20 years. This President believes the Cold War is over, but 
Vladimir Putin doesn't believe the Cold War is over.
  When the President of the United States is overheard to say to Mr. 
Putin's puppet, Mr. Medvedev: Tell Vladimir that after I am reelected I 
will be more flexible.
  Did you get that? The President said: Tell Vladimir after I am 
reelected I will be more flexible. This is the same

[[Page S1261]]

President who believed that somehow Vladimir Putin had anything but the 
ambitions which he is now realizing in Ukraine. In fact, I think it 
might be interesting for my colleagues to note that Vladimir Putin 
spoke to the press today and Vladimir Putin, among other things, during 
his answering questions from the press, said:

       First of all, my assessment of what happened in Kiev and in 
     Ukraine in general. There can only be one assessment: this 
     was an anti-constitutional takeover, an armed seizure of 

  That was Vladimir Putin's view of what happened in Kiev as Yanukovych 
slaughtered, I believe, 82 innocent civilians as well as wounding 
  Then he goes on to say:

       I would like to stress that under that agreement Mr. 
     Yanukovych actually handed over power.

  Obviously, Yanukovych did not hand over power. He was driven from 
power by the good people who were tired of his corruption and were sick 
of his nepotism and his crony capitalism. Anybody who believes anything 
good about Mr. Yanukovych should see the pictures of the home he had 
and the dacha he was building that cost hundreds of millions of 
dollars--truly a man of the people.
  President Putin went on to say:

       The current acting president [of Ukraine] is definitely not 
     legitimate. There is only one legitimate president, from a 
     legal standpoint. . . . Yanukovych is the only undoubtedly 
     legitimate President.

  Then comes more interesting things. Vladimir Putin now says:

       Now about financial aid to Crimea. As you know, we have 
     decided to organize work in the Russian regions to aid 
     Crimea, which has turned to us for humanitarian support. We 
     will provide it, of course. I cannot say how much, when or 
     how. The government is working on this by bringing together 
     the regions bordering on Crimea by providing additional 
     support to our regions so they can help the people in Crimea. 
     We will do it, of course.
       Regarding the deployment of troops, the use of armed 
     forces, so far there is no need for it, but the possibility 

  Let me repeat that. This is from today. Vladimir Putin said:

       Regarding the deployment of troops, the use of armed 
     forces, so far there is no need for it, but the possibility 

  This is a return to the old Russian Soviet doublespeak which was 
absolute nonsense, but they said it anyway.
  He goes on to say:

       What is our biggest concern? We see the rampage of 
     reactionary forces, nationalist and anti-Semitic forces going 
     on in certain parts of Ukraine, including Kiev. . . . When we 
     see this, we understand what worries the citizens of Ukraine, 
     both Russian and Ukrainian, and the Russian-speaking 
     population in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine. It 
     is this uncontrolled crime that worries them. Therefore, if 
     we see such uncontrolled crime spreading to the eastern 
     regions of the country--

  We should pay careful attention to these words of Mr. Putin--

     if we see such uncontrolled crime spreading to the eastern 
     regions of the country, and if the people ask us for help, 
     while we already have the official request from the 
     legitimate President, we retain the right to use all 
     available means to protect those people. We believe this 
     would be absolutely legitimate.

  Then he goes on to say, in answer to a question:

       Thus the tension in Crimea that was linked to the 
     possibility of using our Armed Forces simply died down and 
     there was no need to use them.

  I repeat:

       Thus the tension in Crimea that was linked to the 
     possibility of using our Armed Forces simply died down and 
     there was no need to use them. The only something we had to 
     do, and we did it, was to enhance the defense of our military 
     facilities because they were constantly receiving threats and 
     we were aware of the armed nationalists moving in.

  Russia has well trained, well equipped now an additional 16,000 or 
more, and Vladimir Putin was worried about enhancing the defense of his 
military facilities because they were constantly receiving threats.
  He goes on to say:

       There is something I would like to stress, however. 
     Obviously, what I am going to say now is not within my 
     authority and we do not intend to interfere. However, we 
     firmly believe all citizens of Ukraine, I repeat, wherever 
     they live, should be given the same equal right to 
     participate in the life of their country and determining its 

  My friends, we are seeing justification for intervention and serious 
intervention in eastern Ukraine. So the article goes on with further 
questions, and he goes on to take a shot at the United States saying:

       Our partners, especially in the United States, always 
     clearly formulate their own geopolitical and state interests 
     and follow them with persistence. Then, using the principle 
     ``You're either with us or against us'' they draw the whole 
     world in. And those who do not join in get ``beaten'' until 
     they do.

  Then he goes on to say:

       Our approach is different. We proceed from the conviction 
     that we always act legitimately. I have personally--

  I say to my colleagues, I am not making this up. This is what 
Vladimir Putin said--

       I have always been an advocate of acting in compliance with 
     international law. I would like to stress yet again that if 
     we do make the decision, if I do decide to use the Armed 
     Forces, this will be a legitimate decision in full compliance 
     with both general norms of international law, since we have 
     the appeal of the legitimate President, and with our 
     commitments, which in this case coincide with our interest to 
     protect the people with whom we have close historical 
     cultural and economic ties. Protecting these people is in our 
     national interests. This is a humanitarian mission. We do not 
     intend to subjugate anyone or to dictate to anyone. However, 
     we cannot remain indifferent if we see they are being 
     persecuted, destroyed and humiliated.

  Here is probably the most interesting part:

       Question: Mr. President, a clarification, if I may. The 
     people who were blocking the Ukrainian Army units in Crimea 
     were wearing uniforms that strongly resembled the Russian 
     Army uniform. Were those Russian soldiers, Russian military?
       Vladimir Putin: Why don't you take a look at the post-
     Soviet states. There are many military uniforms there that 
     are similar. You can go to a store and buy any kind of 
       Question: But were they Russian soldiers or not?
       Vladimir Putin: Those were local self-defence units.
       Question: How well trained are they? If we compare them to 
     the self-defence units in Kiev . . .
       Vladimir Putin: My dear colleague, look how well trained 
     the people who operated in Kiev were. As we all know they 
     were trained at special bases in neighboring states: in 
     Lithuania, Poland and in Ukraine itself too. They were 
     trained by instructors for extended periods. They were 
     divided into dozens and hundreds, their actions were 
     coordinated, they had good communication systems. It was all 
     like clockwork. Did you see them in action? They looked very 
     professional, like special forces. Why do you think those in 
     Crimea should be any worse?
       Question: In that case, can I specify: did we take part in 
     training Crimea self-defence forces?
       Vladimir Putin: No, we did not.

  This is the same guy the President of the United States pushed the 
reset button for time and again. This is the same guy whom the 
President says we can work with--Vladimir Putin.
  Then my colleague and former Member of this body on Friday--on 
Friday, as Putin's forces moved into Crimea, and it was very clear to 
anyone the Russians were moving in--Secretary of State John F. Kerry 
spoke Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. This is a 
quote from Secretary Kerry.

       We raised the issue of the airports, raised the issue of 
     armored vehicles, raised the issue of personnel in various 
     places. While we were told they are not engaging in any 
     violation of the sovereignty, and do not intend to, I 
     nevertheless made it clear that could be misinterpreted at 
     this moment and that there are enough tensions that it is 
     important for everybody to be extremely careful not to 
     inflame the situation and not to send the wrong messages.

  I am not making that up. So after 5 years of believing that somehow 
Vladimir Putin was anything but what he is, we are now paying the 
piper. The chickens are coming home to roost.
  Do we have a military option? No. But we do have a number of other 
  I wish to read one other article that was in USA Today by Jonah 
Goldberg entitled ``Obama In Denial on Russia.''
  I will not go through a lot of it, about student Obama, but here is 
some of the quote from the article:

       In 1983, then-Columbia University student Obama penned a 
     lengthy article for the school magazine placing the blame for 
     U.S.-Soviet tensions largely on America's ``war mentality'' 
     and the ``twisted logic'' of the Cold War. President Reagan's 
     defense buildup, according to Obama, contributed to the 
     ``silent spread of militarism'' and reflected our ``distorted 
     national priorities'' rather than what should be our goal: a 
     ``nuclear free world.''

  That is what student Obama said. But the remarkable thing is 2 weeks 
ago in response to tensions in Ukraine, the President explained that:

       Our approach . . . is not to see (events in Ukraine) as 
     some Cold War chessboard in which we're in competition with 

[[Page S1262]]

  This is a horrible way to talk about the Cold War because it starts 
from the premise that it all was just a game conducted between two 
morally equivalent competitors.
  Similar comments about Cold War rivalries and the like are 
commonplace of late, especially during the Sochi Olympics, when NBC 
commentators were desperate to portray the entire Soviet chapter as 
nothing more than a pivotal experience.
  America surely made mistakes during the near half-century twilight 
struggle. The fact is there was a right side and a wrong side to that 
conflict and we were on the right side of it. The Soviet Union, of 
which Vladimir Putin was a part, murdered millions of its own people, 
stifled freedom in nearly every forum, enslaved whole nations, and 
actively tried to undermine democracy all around the world, including 
in the United States.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired.
  Mr. McCAIN. I ask unanimous consent for 5 more minutes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. McCAIN. President Putin, a former KGB agent, has said the 
collapse of the ``evil empire'' was ``the greatest geopolitical 
catastrophe of the 20th century.'' This alone should have been a clue 
to this White House that misspelled reset buttons weren't going to cut 
it. But they were too stuck in the past to see it.
  I could go on and on, including the ridicule some of us were 
subjected to when we pointed this out from time to time, including in 
2008 when I said in a debate with then-candidate Obama: Watch Ukraine. 
Watch Ukraine. Putin will not give up Ukraine.
  We need to have an economic aid package immediately, and I am glad 
our Secretary of State is over there with initial U.S. loan guarantees, 
joining the EU, and a longer substitute package through the 
International Monetary Fund. We have to stabilize the economy of 
Ukraine which is near collapse. Financial sanctions, freezing assets, 
visa bans, trade embargoes--all of those can be accomplished, 
particularly expansion of the Magnitsky act, so people who are 
responsible will not have bank accounts, they will not travel, they 
will not ever get a visa. They need to pay a penalty for orchestrating 
what is happening in Ukraine right now.
  Obviously we should not go to the G-8 summit. He should be thrown out 
of the G-8. It should now be the G-7. They obviously have to suspend 
military-to-military engagements. We need to have a path--and a quick 
one--for both Moldova and Georgia to move into NATO. Both countries are 
occupied by Russian troops, Moldova in Transnistria and in Georgia at 
Kajian South Abkhazia, and quite often Russians keep moving the fence 
farther and farther into the sovereign territory of these countries. In 
an attempt to appease Mr. Putin, we abandoned missile defense systems 
in Poland and the Czech Republic. We need to reinstate those and move 
forward as quickly as possible.
  There are a number of things the most powerful Nation in the world 
needs to do. I am not counting on our European friends. Already there 
have been statements by Angela Merkel and the leaking of a memorandum 
from the British Government. We may have to do a lot of these things by 
ourselves, because they are dependent on Russia for a lot of their 
energy supplies, and we have seen a significant recession in European 
leadership over the last 10 to 20 years. But we need to act, and we 
need to speak in favor of the people who are now being overtaken in 
Crimea by Vladimir Putin's army and military. I worry.
  In conclusion, I say it is time we wake up about Vladimir Putin. It 
is time this administration gets real. It is also time for us to worry 
about what Vladimir Putin will do in eastern Ukraine on the pretext 
that somehow disorder and demonstrations might require Russian 
  My friends, if we allow Mr. Putin to assert his authority over these 
areas because of Russian-speaking people, that message is not lost on 
Poland where there is a Russian population, on Romania, Latvia, 
Estonia, Lithuania, and Moldova. We are on the verge possibly of seeing 
a move to reassert the old Russian empire, which is Mr. Putin's 
lifelong ambition.
  I have overstayed my time. I thank my colleague from Alabama.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alabama.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Madam President, I appreciate the opportunity to listen 
to Senator McCain. I think facts have proven him right for many over 
many years of warning this country about how we have to conduct 
international relations in a realistic way.
  I had the opportunity to be in Georgia and Ukraine about 3 years ago. 
In Georgia, we went to South Ossetia where the Russians had moved in, 
against European international law, and had set in. Last week or so, we 
were informed by the Prime Minister of Georgia they were building 
barbed wire fences along that border, digging in even deeper than they 
had before.
  In Ukraine, we met with some of the democratic dissidents who were 
trying to hang on to democracy there. They had beaten Shevchenko, the 
fabulous lady who helped lead the Orange Revolution. She was worried 
about going to jail. I didn't think she would go to jail, but they put 
her in jail and kept her in jail for years on what EU and NATO 
officials have all said were bogus charges. They told us some of the 
democratic activists were somewhat depressed because Putin, with his 
intel background, was using the Russian intelligence services in 
Ukraine to buy up media and buy up television to propagandize the 
country. They were hurting, and they didn't know if they would be able 
to successfully resist. It was such a delight for me to see this 
basically nonviolent revolution in which the people stood up for their 
country. Now we see Mr. Putin did not accept the sovereignty, and he is 
going to try to utilize military force in a way which is stunning. I 
have to say, Crimea is far larger and more strategically significant 
than South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but it is the same actions.
  I thank Senator McCain for his leadership.