Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) announced the launch of the Senate Ukraine Caucus. The goal of the Caucus will be to strengthen the political, military, economic, and cultural relationship between the United States and Ukraine. The caucus will immediately focus on the need for a sustained U.S. commitment to Ukraine in the face of a Russian-backed separatist offensive. Portman and Durbin recently led a bipartisan group of 15 senators calling for President Obama and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to rapidly increase military assistance to Ukraine to defend its sovereign borders. Portman also visited Ukraine last year to serve as an election monitor. U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) will serve as vice-chairs of the caucus.

“I am pleased to announce the formation of the Senate Ukraine Caucus,” Portman stated. “We need this caucus now more than ever as the Ukrainian people fight to preserve their freedom in the face of Russian aggression, and a key focus of the Senate Ukraine Caucus will be to play a prominent role in advocating for and coordinating more robust American efforts to support Ukraine. In addition, the caucus will highlight the many contributions of Ukrainian-Americans to the United States, including the large Ukrainian-American community in Ohio. I look forward to working with Senator Durbin and our caucus members to establish the Senate Ukraine Caucus as a key voice on Capitol Hill for stronger U.S.-Ukrainian relations.”

“We form the Senate Ukraine Caucus at a time of real peril for the people of Ukraine,” said Durbin. “In the face of continued Russian aggression in the region and repeated assaults on the sovereignty of its borders, Ukraine needs a steadfast ally in the United States. This bipartisan group sends a clear message that Ukraine has the unflinching support of the Ukrainian community in Illinois and in the United States Senate.”