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Chairman Menendez Statement on Illegal Referendum in Ukraine

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee issued this statement on yesterday’s illegal referendum in Ukraine:

“Yesterday’s supposed referendum in eastern Ukraine is another illegal step toward Russia annexing key parts of Ukraine. The so-called referendum has no legitimacy, is a violation of international law, and clearly cannot be recognized by the U.S.

“President Putin continues to manipulate domestic politics in Ukraine as a ruse for potentially further invading Ukraine. Just last week, he called for the postponement of this referendum, but failed to back his words up with meaningful action. Russian troops were also supposedly retreating from the Ukrainian border, but no evidence supports this claim. All the while, Russia manipulates political sentiment in Ukraine by flooding the airwaves with anti-Ukrainian propaganda and falsehoods designed to create political turmoil.  With every passing day, it is all but impossible to believe anything that Putin says. 

“The priority of the U.S. and our European allies must be the May 25 elections. Ukrainians have the right to pursue their own destiny absent coercion from Russia. The democratic process must be defended and protected in Ukraine with the unwavering support of the U.S.”