Top Congressional Leaders Urge President Obama to Extend ‘Lethal’ Aid to Ukraine

Congress passed law last year to extend military aid.

“In the wake of a cease-fire agreement that appears only to have consolidated Russian and separatist gains since the first Minsk agreement, we urge you to quickly approve additional efforts to support Ukraine’s efforts to defend its sovereign territory, including through the transfer of lethal, defensive weapons systems to the Ukrainian military,” a letter sent by the group of lawmakers today reads.

President Obama signed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act on Dec. 18, but noted in a statement that day that “the administration does not intend to impose sanctions under this law, but the act gives the administration additional authorities that could be utilized, if circumstances warranted.”

Now, Congress wants Obama to reconsider after his administration has been hesitant to provide military aid.

“Congress has already, with overwhelming bipartisan support, provided you with the authorities, resources, and political support to provide assistance, including lethal, to the government and people of Ukraine,” notes the letter, signed by eight Republicans and three Democrats. “We urge you in the strongest possible terms to use those authorities and resources to meet the specific and direct requests the government of Ukraine has made of your administration.”

Last week, Boehner and a bipartisan group of lawmakers met at the Capitol with Ukrainian lawmakers, including Andriy Parubiy, first vice-speaker of the Verkohona Rada, also known as the Supreme Council of Ukraine. The speaker's office said the group "had a productive discussion about their shared goals of peace, freedom, and security." The letter today is the first visible effort to follow up on that meeting.