Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act

Floor Speech

Date: Jan. 20, 2022
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, yesterday I was dismayed to hear the President of the United States suggest that a Russian invasion of Ukraine might not provoke a powerful response by the United States and our allies.

Now, I am grateful that the Press Secretary did issue a statement subsequently which seemed to clarify the strong commitment that the American people--from the administration to the Members of Congress-- have to assist our Ukrainian allies in their efforts to deter or defeat Russian aggression. I believe we have a duty to stand with Ukraine and our European allies as they attempt to defend their democracies.

Strong language and threats of sanctions have their place, but they are not enough to deter Vladimir Putin. We need to take concrete steps to deter the likelihood of a Russian attack in any form.

But it is not just the executive branch of the U.S. Government that has a role to play. We in Congress have a role we can play, too, in sending a very clear message to Vladimir Putin that we will not stand idly by while he attacks a neighbor, a democracy, and a potential future member of NATO.

To that end, I have introduced bipartisan legislation called the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act to ensure Ukrainian forces have the weapons that they need to deter that aggression and defend, if necessary, against a Russian invasion.

Of course, students of history remember the importance of lend-lease back in World War II, back when America was officially neutral in the conflict initiated by Nazi Germany in Europe and during a time when the American people were of an isolationist frame of mind.

Recognizing the importance of throwing a lifeline to Great Britain and our other allies, Congress passed on a bipartisan basis the Lend- Lease Act, which ultimately resulted in $30 billion worth of materiel being delivered to Britain and our other allies to help them defeat Nazi Germany.

So, in a similar vein, this legislation authorizes the President to enter into lend-lease agreements with Ukraine and provide the military equipment necessary to protect the Ukrainian people from Russian aggression. No one is suggesting that American troops should be on the ground, but we are saying clearly that it is our responsibility to provide the Ukrainians everything they need in order to defend themselves.

This legislation would once again, in the immortal words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, allow us to serve as the arsenal of democracy, just as we did in World War II, and provide Ukraine with the lethal weapons they need to protect themselves against the Russian threat.

Make no mistake, America stands with Ukraine, and we will do everything we can, again, on a bipartisan basis--the executive branch, the legislative branch--to support our friends and to defeat a Russian invasion and allow them to protect their democracy.

Vladimir Putin's stated concerns about Ukraine are completely a false narrative, particularly with regard to his stated concerns about Ukraine becoming a part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which, as we all know, is purely defensive in nature.

Vladimir Putin has called the fall of the Soviet Union one of the greatest geopolitical tragedies of the 20th century, and clearly he is of a mind to regain that lost territory as a result of the fall of the Soviet Union and, if necessary, do it by force. That is what Putin is up to, and we should not be confused about that.

I am proud to have worked with Senators Cardin and Wicker and Senators Shaheen, Graham, and Blumenthal on this legislation, and I hope more of our colleagues--again, on a bipartisan basis--will join us in advancing this bill and making sure that our Ukrainian friends have everything they need to deter, if possible, Russian aggression and, if that is not possible, to make sure that Vladimir Putin pays a heavy price for attacking Ukraine.

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