Urging support for Ukraine, Pascrell chastises Christie for comments about Putin, defends Obama

PATERSON – An enormously offended and irritated U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9) criticized Gov. Chris Christie for his critique of President Barack Obama on the administration’s Russian front.

According to news reports, Christie said Vladimir Putin had taken the measure of Mr. Obama. “I don’t believe, given who I am, that he would make the same judgment,” Christie said. “Let’s leave it at that.”

Pascrell reamed Christie at a press conference today where he announced his latest efforts to urge the administration and leadership in Congress to support Ukraine in their time of need as they face continued Russian aggression inside their borders.

Pascrell slapped at people in government critical of the president.

“Surely the lowest form of life that even Dante could figure out in his Inferno,” the congressman said.

Asked who he was talking about, Pascrell got specific.

“I’m talking about the governor of this state,” he said. “Absolutely out of line. The president is trying to deal with a hazardous situation and the proper response is not a knee jerk reaction, not a glib comment. Give him elbow room, and Mr. Governor, you have plenty of elbow room.

“I support the President in his approach and his temperament,” Pascrell added later.

The congressman wants the United States to provide arms to Ukraine as that country copes with the presence within its borders of Russian troops.

In a letter to House leadership, Pascrell urged Speaker John Boehner to act on the Ukraine Security Assistance Act of 2014 (H.R. 5190), legislation Pascrell helped introduce that would authorize the President to work with the Government of Ukraine to assess that country’s military, intelligence, and security needs and provide adequate and necessary assistance to protect Ukrainian democracy and sovereignty. This week, Pascrell also joined his colleagues on the House Ukrainian Caucus in sending a letter to House and Senate leadership urging them to invite Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to address Congress during his expected visit to the U.S. later this month.

“The Ukrainian military is severely outmatched by the Russian soldiers currently invading their country, and needs our support,” Pascrell wrote in a letter to Speaker Boehner. “Congress must not stand by and let Russia continue this pattern of aggression and flaunting of international norms. It is vital the House act before we recess for the November elections. During the five weeks of recess this summer, Russia’s support for the rebels in Ukraine escalated to a full blown invasion. There is no telling how many lives could be lost or how much further Russia will escalate its invasion if Congress fails to act for another two months.”

The announcement came immediately follow a meeting between Rep. Pascrell and leading Ukrainian-American organizations and community leaders. Rep. Pascrell’s represents a large Ukrainian-American population in northern New Jersey, which he has met with numerous times as tensions continued to escalate in Ukraine.

“The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America is very grateful to Congressman Pascrell for all of his efforts to support HR 5190,” said Tamara Olexy, President of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, who stood with the congressman in his Paterson office. “The Ukrainian Security Assistance Act is very timely given Russia’s invasion and their support of the separatists in eastern Ukraine.”

The Ukraine Security Assistance Act of 2014, introduced in July by the co-Chairs of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, Reps. Jim Gerlach (R-PA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Sandy Levin (D-MI), would provide a clear and specific process to provide direct military and security assistance to the Government of Ukraine as it seeks to strengthen its democracy and prevent separatist violence and aggression within its borders.

This bipartisan legislation would reinforce the strong relationship between the U.S. and Ukraine and take an important step toward helping Ukraine neutralize the military-support advantage that separatist rebels are using to target civilian and military aircraft in eastern Ukraine and foster violence and instability across that country. H.R. 5190 also calls on President and the Secretary of State to increase defense cooperation between the U.S. Armed Forces and the armed forces of Ukraine.

The full text of the letter follows:

September 4, 2014

 

Dear Speaker Boehner:

 

Congress returns from recess next week to a dramatically changed landscape in Ukraine. For months, we have known that the Russian government was providing weapons and support to separatists in Ukraine’s east. Over the past several weeks, Russia has escalated its campaign by invading Ukraine directly. The United States must stand with the people of Ukraine against this aggression and provide them with the ability to defend themselves. To that end, before Congress recesses for the November elections, we must act on legislation giving the President the authority he needs to assist the people of Ukraine defend their country.

 

The Russian military, one of the world’s largest, had been massing at the eastern border of Ukraine since the crisis began. After the illegal annexation of Crimea, Russia’s clandestine support of separatists groups across Ukraine’s east escalated after the Ukrainian government attempted to reclaim its territory. This support tragically culminated in the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 with Russian provided weaponry, killing 298 people.

 

However, this tragedy did not deter President Putin. Since mid-August, we have seen undeniable evidence that the Russian military is crossing the border with Ukraine and fighting directly with Ukrainian forces. President Putin has reportedly bragged about his ability to conquer the capital of Ukraine in “two weeks,” if he wanted.

 

The Ukrainian military is severely outmatched by the Russian soldiers currently invading their country, and needs our support. Congress must not stand by and let Russia continue this pattern of aggression and flaunting of international norms. I am a cosponsor of H.R.5190, the Ukraine Security Assistance Act of 2014, which authorizes the President to provide Ukraine with the equipment they need to defend themselves from this invasion, including weapons, body armor and night navigation equipment. I believe this legislation would be an appropriate starting point for any action you are considering the House take.

 

It is vital the House act before we recess for the November elections. During the five weeks of recess this summer, Russia’s support for the rebels in Ukraine escalated to a full blown invasion. There is no telling how many lives could be lost or how much further Russia will escalate its invasion if Congress fails to act for another two

months.

 

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

 

Sincerely,

Bill Pascrell, Jr.

Member of Congress

Urging support for Ukraine, Pascrell chastises Christie for comments about Putin, defends Obama