Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), co-founder and chairman of the Senate Ukraine Caucus and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement regarding media reports that the president has decided to approve lethal military equipment for Ukraine for the first time.
 
Providing lethal weapons to Ukraine will send a clear message that America stands with the Ukrainian people in their nearly four year struggle to secure a democratic, prosperous, and independent future for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.This decision--while long overdue--will reverse the Obama administration's de facto arms embargo against Ukraine and will finally allow Ukraine to access the tools it needs to defend itself. As co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus and author of several provisions authorizing expanded U.S. military assistance--including lethal aid--and establishing the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, I hope that this decision opens the door to the full implementation of the bipartisan legislation Congress has already passed to help the Ukrainians defend themselves against Russian aggression."
 
NOTE: Portman, who received the Ukrainian-American community’s highest honor, the Shevchenko Freedom Award, has long led the effort to provide Ukraine the kind of assistance necessary to ward off Russian aggression and maintain its territorial integrity.The co-founder and co-chairman of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, Portman has visited Ukraine several times, including leading a Congressional election observation mission with Senator Ben Cardin during Ukraine's Presidential election in 2014. For the past three years, Portman has successfully introduced amendments to the annual National Defense Authorization Act that expanded U.S. military aid to Ukraine. These provisions helped build the primary statutory framework for U.S. security assistance to Ukraine, the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. In addition, he has repeatedly written letters, delivered multiple floor speeches, and pressed? senior Administration officials on the importance of providing meaningful assistance to help Ukraine stand up to Russia's military aggression. 
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