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Cruz Statement on the Ongoing Violence and Civic Unrest in Ukraine

January 23, 2014

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(202) 228-7561

WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, released the following statement regarding the ongoing violence and civic unrest in Ukraine:

"Over the past few days, at least three members of the political opposition have been either shot or beaten to death by forces under the control of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych for protesting his new restrictions on the freedoms of speech and assembly that had previously been guaranteed by their country's constitution.

"The tragic loss of life in Kiev is a further demonstration that Yanukovych has abandoned the democratic principles on which that constitution is founded. Deplorable violence against the peaceful protests of Yanukovych’s unilateral decision to reject a popular trade agreement with the European Union and instead embrace closer ties with Vladimir Putin’s Russia has already occurred on November 30, December 1 and December 11, 2013. Now this grim pattern is repeating itself.

"The United States must not turn a blind eye to the struggle for freedom in a country where we have such a clear strategic interest. Putin’s proposed Eurasian Customs Union, of which Ukraine would be a cornerstone, is a thinly veiled attempt to re-assimilate the territory of "greater Russia" that made up the old Soviet Union. His offer of economic assistance is a first step in binding Ukraine to this new bloc. Given Ukraine’s economic and security significance to both the U.S. and our NATO allies in western Europe it would be a mistake to allow this expansion of Russia’s sphere of interest, especially given the tenacity with which Ukrainians have fought against it in recent months.

"The President and Congress should unite in a coherent and sustained program to support the opposition and encourage Yanukovych to both rescind his restrictions on the rights of the Ukrainian people and renounce violence against those engaged in protest. I was pleased to co-sponsor Senate Resolution 319 introduced by Senator Chris Murphy on December 12, 2013, which includes the important clause: “in the event of further state violence against peaceful protestors, the President and Congress should consider whether to apply targeted sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, against individuals responsible for ordering or carrying out the violence.” The Department of State should be commended for implementing visa bans against Ukrainian officials this week. We should follow-up swiftly with targeted economic sanctions as well, including freezing the assets of those responsible for the violence.

"The people of Ukraine should know that the United States stands with them during this difficult time."

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