U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, this week will travel to Estonia, Poland, and Ukraine, focusing on ongoing security concerns caused by continued Russian destabilization throughout the region.
Menendez says he plans to pay particular attention to Ukraine, where thousands have been killed and injured and separatist militias are responsible for the savage downing of a civilian airline resulting in the death of 298 innocent people.
“Russian aggression is destabilizing Ukraine and creating instability throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic States, and in other neighboring countries,” Menendez said. “These actions are causing serious national security implications for Estonia, Poland, and Ukraine. The United States, alongside our European allies, will not allow the international order to be upended by President Putin and his Russian-allied separatist militias who shot down a civilian airline, taking the lives of 298 innocent people in Eastern Ukraine. Together the United States and European Union have responded to Russia. A radical change in Russian behavior is well overdue. President Putin has it in his power to re-think and reverse the current course of aggression he has set his country on. He must respect Ukraine’s sovereignty by ceasing to interfere in Ukraine’s internal affairs and withdraw all Russia support of the separatists. Only by doing so, can Russia begin to re-establish normal political and economic ties with the rest of the world.
“Throughout the continent, European citizens are commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War One and the 75th Anniversary of World War Two. These conflicts resulted in unspeakable death and destruction throughout Europe, and reshaped the world forever. Today, in Ukraine especially, we must learn from our history and build a hopeful future that strengthens the respect of international law,” the senator added.
In Estonia, Chairman Menendez is scheduled to meet with President Ilves, Prime Minister Roivas, Foreign Minister Paet and Defense Minister Mikser. Earlier this year, Menendez met with President Ilves, a graduate of Leonia High School, during the German Marshall Fund’s Brussels Forum. Menendez will meet with members of 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team of the U.S. Army who have been deployed to Estonia, as well as pilots from the NATO Baltic Air Patrol mission.
In Poland, Menendez will visit with President Komorowski, Foreign Minister Sikorski, Defense Minister Siemoniak, and BBN Chief (National Security Bureau) General Koziej. He will participate in a wreath laying ceremony in Auschwitz and visit the Warsaw Uprising Museum.
Chairman Menendez will conclude his trip in Ukraine where he is scheduled to meet with top officials in the new government to review U.S. efforts to assist Ukraine in light of the crisis caused by the Russian occupation of eastern territories in Ukraine.