Senators to Trump: Get tough on Russia over Ukraine

Senators to Trump: Get tough on Russia over Ukraine
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A bipartisan group of 27 senators is calling on President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand urges opposition to Kavanaugh: Fight for abortion rights 'is now or never' Trump claims tariffs on foreign nations will rescue US steel industry: report Bannon announces pro-Trump movie, operation team ahead of midterms: report MORE to stand up to Russian aggression against Ukraine.

“Quite simply, Russia has launched a military land-grab in Ukraine that is unprecedented in modern European history,” the senators wrote in a letter to Trump on Thursday.

“These actions in Crimea and other areas of eastern Ukraine dangerously upend well-established diplomatic, legal and security norms that the United States and its NATO allies painstakingly built over decades – a historically bipartisan global security framework that has greatly served U.S. security and economic interests," they continued.

“We believe it is in our vital national security interest to uphold these norms and values, and prevent America’s commitment to its allies and ideals from being called into question.”

The letter was led by Sens. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDems seize on Kavanaugh emails to question role in terrorism response Trump gives thumbs up to prison sentencing reform bill at pivotal meeting Overnight Defense: Officials make show of force on election security | Dems want probe into Air Force One tours | Pentagon believes Korean War remains 'consistent' with Americans MORE (D-Ill.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenate study: Trump hasn’t provided adequate support to detained migrant children Senators introduce bill to change process to levy national security tariffs A single courageous senator can derail the Trump administration MORE (R-Ohio), co-chairs of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, and was signed by 11 other Republicans and 14 other Democrats.

Russia invaded Crimea and has backed separatists elsewhere in eastern Ukraine since 2014, a move that prompted international backlash and isolation. The United States continues to sanction Russia over the issue and supports Ukraine with financial aid.

U.S. lawmakers have also been pushing for defensive aid to be sent to Ukraine.

Trump, though, has spoken flatteringly of Russian President Vladimir Putin, suggesting he’ll take a softer stance on Russia than previous administrations.

He’s also made a number of controversial comments on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In July, Trump said he “would be looking into” whether to recognize Crimea as Russian territory. In August, he also said that Putin is “not going to go into Ukraine,” despite the fact that Russia already had.

In their letter, the senators urged Trump to step up aid to Ukraine.

“In light of Russia’s continued aggression and repeated refusal to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereign right to choose its own destiny, we also renew our call for the United States to increase political, economic and military support for Ukraine,” they wrote. “This includes defensive lethal assistance as part of a broader effort to help Ukrainians better defend themselves, deter future aggression and implement key structural reforms.”

They also said Russia has “made a mockery” of the Minsk Agreement to end the conflict in Ukraine and so sanctions should not be lifted.

“We believe that Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea should never be accepted, nor should we lift sanctions imposed on Russia for its behavior in eastern Ukraine until key provisions of the Minsk Agreement are met,” they wrote. “Accordingly, US leadership on maintaining such transatlantic sanctions should remain a priority.”