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Corker: Russia’s Recognition of Illegal Rebel Vote in Eastern Ukraine Demands Firm Response from U.S. and Europe

Says U.S. Should Be Prepared to Impose Stiffer Sanctions, Step Up Assistance to Ukraine

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Following reports that Russia has affirmed a rebel-held election in parts of Eastern Ukraine and violated terms of a ceasefire agreement, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said recognition of the illegal vote demands a firm response from the U.S. and Europe, including consideration of stiffer sanctions on Russia and stepped-up assistance to Ukraine given the ongoing threat from Russian aggression.

"Russia's recognition of an illegal rebel vote in Eastern Ukraine demands a firm response,” said Corker. “The U.S. must work with Europe to continue imposing costs against Russia and reassure our support for Ukraine through stepped-up assistance that will help Ukrainians reinforce their sovereignty."

In September, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved legislation that expands sanctions on Russia’s defense, financial and energy industries, as well as provides lethal military and non-military assistance for Ukraine.  The Ukraine Freedom Support Act, coauthored by Corker and Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), would also give Ukraine energy, defense sector, and civil society assistance; establish Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia as major Non-NATO allies; and expand broadcasting programs to counter Russian propaganda in countries of the former Soviet Union.