[House Hearing, 113 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
THE SHOOTDOWN OF MALAYSIAN FLIGHT 17 AND THE ESCALATING CRISIS IN
SUBCOMMITTEE ON EUROPE, EURASIA, AND EMERGING THREATS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON TERRORISM, NONPROLIFERATION, AND TRADE
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED THIRTEENTH CONGRESS
JULY 29, 2014
Serial No. 113-192
Printed for the use of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.foreignaffairs.house.gov/
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COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California, Chairman
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American
DANA ROHRABACHER, California Samoa
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio BRAD SHERMAN, California
JOE WILSON, South Carolina GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
MICHAEL T. McCAUL, Texas ALBIO SIRES, New Jersey
TED POE, Texas GERALD E. CONNOLLY, Virginia
MATT SALMON, Arizona THEODORE E. DEUTCH, Florida
TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania BRIAN HIGGINS, New York
JEFF DUNCAN, South Carolina KAREN BASS, California
ADAM KINZINGER, Illinois WILLIAM KEATING, Massachusetts
MO BROOKS, Alabama DAVID CICILLINE, Rhode Island
TOM COTTON, Arkansas ALAN GRAYSON, Florida
PAUL COOK, California JUAN VARGAS, California
GEORGE HOLDING, North Carolina BRADLEY S. SCHNEIDER, Illinois
RANDY K. WEBER SR., Texas JOSEPH P. KENNEDY III,
SCOTT PERRY, Pennsylvania Massachusetts
STEVE STOCKMAN, Texas AMI BERA, California
RON DeSANTIS, Florida ALAN S. LOWENTHAL, California
TREY RADEL, Florida--resigned 1/27/ GRACE MENG, New York
14 deg. LOIS FRANKEL, Florida
DOUG COLLINS, Georgia TULSI GABBARD, Hawaii
MARK MEADOWS, North Carolina JOAQUIN CASTRO, Texas
TED S. YOHO, Florida
LUKE MESSER, Indiana--resigned 5/
20/14 noon deg.
SEAN DUFFY, Wisconsin--
added 5/29/14 noon deg.
CURT CLAWSON, Florida--
added 7/9/14 noon deg.
Amy Porter, Chief of Staff Thomas Sheehy, Staff Director
Jason Steinbaum, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats
DANA ROHRABACHER, California, Chairman
TED POE, Texas WILLIAM KEATING, Massachusetts
TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
JEFF DUNCAN, South Carolina ALBIO SIRES, New Jersey
PAUL COOK, California BRIAN HIGGINS, New York
GEORGE HOLDING, North Carolina ALAN S. LOWENTHAL, California
STEVE STOCKMAN, Texas
Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade
TED POE, Texas, Chairman
JOE WILSON, South Carolina BRAD SHERMAN, California
ADAM KINZINGER, Illinois ALAN S. LOWENTHAL, California
MO BROOKS, Alabama JOAQUIN CASTRO, Texas
TOM COTTON, Arkansas JUAN VARGAS, California
PAUL COOK, California BRADLEY S. SCHNEIDER, Illinois
SCOTT PERRY, Pennsylvania JOSEPH P. KENNEDY III,
TED S. YOHO, Florida Massachusetts
C O N T E N T S
Mr. Ian Brzezinski, resident senior fellow, Brent Scowcroft
Center on International Security, Atlantic Council............. 10
Mr. Anthony Salvia, executive director, American Institute in
The Honorable William B. Taylor, vice president for Middle East
and Africa, United States Institute of Peace (former United
States Ambassador to Ukraine).................................. 24
Leon Aron, Ph.D., resident scholar and director of Russian
studies, The American Enterprise Institute..................... 30
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
Mr. Ian Brzezinski: Prepared statement........................... 12
Mr. Anthony Salvia: Prepared statement........................... 20
The Honorable William B. Taylor: Prepared statement.............. 26
Leon Aron, Ph.D.: Prepared statement............................. 32
Hearing notice................................................... 54
Hearing minutes.................................................. 55
The Honorable William Keating, a Representative in Congress from
the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Material submitted for the
THE SHOOTDOWN OF MALAYSIAN FLIGHT 17 AND THE ESCALATING CRISIS IN
TUESDAY, JULY 29, 2014
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats and
Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade,
Committee on Foreign Affairs,
The subcommittees met, pursuant to notice, at 10:13 a.m.,
in room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Dana
Rohrabacher [chairman of the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia,
and Emerging Threats] presiding.
Mr. Rohrabacher. I call this hearing, entitled ``The
Shootdown of the Malaysian Flight 17 and the Escalating Crisis
in Ukraine,'' to order. Without objection, all members will
have 5 legislative days to submit additional written questions
or extraneous material for the record.
On July 17th, a civilian airliner flying over Ukraine
crashed into a field about 30 miles from the Russian border.
All 298 people aboard tragically lost their lives. Today,
before we do anything else, let us make it clear that we all
extend our sympathy to the families of those victims of that
crash. There are 298 families at least who are now in deep
mourning and suffering, and they have our sympathy and our
thoughts and prayers today.
Our world today seems overwhelmed with such turmoil. On
each continent there are various groups battling each other who
are willing to use force and kill others in order to change the
status quo or to protect the status quo. We see this today, but
we also saw this through the 40 years of Cold War that is
within our memory. During that time, people in Hungary,
Vietnam, Czechoslovakia, and so many other trouble spots were
caught up in local differences and local power struggles that
had far-reaching, way beyond their borders implications.
Today, Ukraine and Russia are in transition from what is
what, and to who knows what is going to happen, but it is a
transition, and that transition makes for volatility and
undermines the stability, yes, it undermines the stability of
the world and threatens world peace.
I intend this hearing today to be a balanced hearing, a
dialogue, not a diatribe against any point of view. We have
assembled a panel of experts on Russia and the region with a
goal of learning the facts and getting a better understanding
of the truth; hopefully, without bellicose rhetoric.
Last year, before the upheaval started in Ukraine, Ukraine
faced an economic meltdown. Its elected President, Viktor
Yanukovych, had a choice between a somewhat long-term yet
limited offer by the European Union or a deal with Russia which
offered more money up front and long-term affordable energy. He
took the Russian deal, not because he was bullied, as some
anti-Russian commentators suggest. No, he took the deal because
it prevented an immediate crisis and he had every right to make
that as the elected leader of Ukraine, and it was a defendable
But because he was duly elected and not a Third World
dictator, the Ukrainian people should have used the ballot box
to express outrage and remove him from office if that was the
will of the majority of the people of Ukraine. Instead, street
violence, spontaneous or not is debatable, led to the elected
leader fleeing Ukraine, undermining stability, the stability
that we are supposed to see that comes with a democracy and
comes with people accepting the electoral process.
At the least, it is commendable in the last 6 months, since
Yanukovych's removal, the people of Ukraine were given the
chance to vote on installing a new President. The ongoing
violence in Eastern Ukraine, however, can be traced right back
to the violence and extralegal nondemocratic maneuvers of those
who brought down that elected President. The ongoing violence
is chaotic, and this needs to end. The chaos, the violence, no
matter what preceded it, needs to stop now in Ukraine. The MH17
shootdown should be a turning point for all sides. It is time
for the guns to stop shooting and some thoughtful reevaluation
This conflict is having serious, not just regional, but
global consequences. For one time over the last few years,
Russians and Americans, seem to be headed for a new Cold War.
Igniting a new Cold War would be a tragedy for not only the
people of the United States and Russia, but for the people of
the world. We need to identify and implement policies that will
bring the United States and Russia together as partners to
solve problems and the serious challenges that we have and the
threats that are posed to both of our countries.
Restoring peace to Ukraine would be a good start in
deterring a potential new Cold War and establishing perhaps
some stability and peace in the world. So today's hearing,
hopefully, will identify some of the areas of friction and
maybe shed some light on the events in Ukraine that will help
permit us to find solutions instead of fanning the flames of
We have the witnesses who will be introduced just before
their testimony, but today we have with us also the ranking
member, Mr. Keating, and I would yield to him at this point for
an opening statement on his part.
Mr. Keating. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The entire world was sickened by the video footage of so-
called separatists sacking the crash site of airline flight 17
over Ukraine on July 17th; almost 300 people losing their
lives. And I offer officially my deepest condolences to the
families of those victims.
This footage is well-documented, and we have been agonized
over reports of bodies decaying in sweltering heat and
allegations that separatists continue to disturb and destroy
evidence at the crash site. Although the separatists eventually
allowed international experts to retrieve most of the victims'
bodies and the plane's black boxes, they have continued to
prevent international monitors from accessing the crash site.
This is completely unacceptable. It is essential that a full
and transparent international investigation begin immediately
and the fact that this crime must be established and the
perpetrators must be brought to justice.
What is most tragic about this disaster is that it was
completely avoidable and completely unnecessary. Without
prejudging the outcome of a widely hoped-for international
investigation, it is entirely accurate to say that this tragedy
is the direct result of Russian efforts to sew chaos and
instability in Eastern Ukraine and in the wider Eastern
Shockingly, this horrific disaster has not stopped Russia
from continuing to fuel the conflict in Ukraine. Russian forces
are increasing weapon deliveries to separatists and even firing
artillery against Ukraine troops from within Russia. Although
it is well within President Putin's power to put an end to this
fighting, he continues to insist he has no power over the so-
called separatists. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The leaders of the so-called separatists in Eastern Ukraine
are not Ukrainian citizens. They are Russian citizens. They are
subject to Russian law. Their financing comes from Russia, as
do their weapons. Even more troubling, they are trained Russian
operatives who fought in Chechnya and worked covertly in
Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and even the Balkans to
destabilize democratically elected governments, like the
current Ukraine Government, and keep them from strengthening
ties with anyone but Russia.
I support the administration's use of targeted sanctions in
concert with our European allies to press Russia to end its
support for so-called separatists in Eastern Ukraine. I am
encouraged by the impending agreement by the EU to strengthen
sanctions against Russia, and I look forward to the European
leaders' decision, which can come as early as today. These
measures are designed to show Mr. Putin what the world already
knows, that it is well within President Putin's power to end
Yes, it is just not our steps or sanctions that are being
closely examined, but our commitments to NATO and the
transatlantic partnership that continue to be scrutinized by
those who are threatening the ideals of rules of law,
transparency, accountability, and indeed individual liberties.
For this reason, I urge leaders on both sides of the
Atlantic to move forward in setting the global standards for
trade, health, environment, and labor by promoting the upcoming
TTIP agreement and further would encourage increased dialogue
on the future cooperative defense structures under the NATO
umbrella as well. These institutions will carry our partnership
into the future and offer a window for increased engagements
with other like-minded partners throughout the world.
For the immediate future, however, we owe it to the victims
of MH17, and to the people of Ukraine, to press Mr. Putin to
put an end to his bitter and wholly unnecessary proxy war, a
sentiment that has wide agreement on both sides of the aisle in
With that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you very much.
We are honored today with the presence of the chairman of
the full committee, Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, who we
thank you for joining us, and thank you for your leadership in
this committee. And we would hope that you might have some
thoughts to share with us at this time.
Mr. Royce. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and thank
you, Mr. Poe. I also want to extend my sympathy to the families
who lost loved ones as a result of the downing of that
I wanted to express my thanks to both of you, and the
ranking member, and also to Mr. Poe for coming with us.
Frankly, we flew into Eastern Ukraine, into this region, and
into the province that is next to Donetsk several months ago in
order to have a dialogue with the Russian-speaking people of
that region, in order to get feedback from the NGO community,
from the community in general. I will tell you we had
discussions with Russian speakers, the women's groups, the
minority groups, the Jewish community, the governor, the civil
society types, the lawyers. And in listening to all of that
dialogue, they communicated one grave concern to us. Their
concern was in the weapons and the caliber and quantity of
those weapons flooding in over the border.
Now, General Breedlove also, who is the Allied Commander at
NATO, expressed these same concerns, and this was months ago,
and he informed us, he informed the U.S. Government that his
concern was with the training that separatists were receiving
inside Russia on this SA-11 missile system. His other concern
was with these systems, as well as tanks, coming over the
border from Russia and being put into the hands of separatists.
Part of the concern about the way this is being done is
because of the way in which these separatists are being
recruited. They are being recruited on social media. And in the
words of one U.S. official, every malcontent and skinhead who
responds to this rhetoric in the Russian-speaking world,
whether it is from Russia or Eastern Ukraine, who is recruited,
is probably not the best soldier. It is not a well-trained
soldier, certainly. And to put these types of individuals on an
SA-11 system to shoot these systems is to run an enormous risk.
Now, this was a tragic accident in terms of hitting a
jetliner, in my view. That was not the target. The target was
Ukrainian military planes, and 12 of which had been shot down,
and I think several others since. But they are shot down with
this system. They are shot down by these individuals. And when
we say not properly trained, I don't think there is any
question of that, because look for a minute to what happened in
front of camera crews when these same separatists were guarding
the site, the crash site. You notice that they took passports,
they took Visa cards, they tried to use those Visa cards,
unprofessional conduct. A soldier would not be doing this. They
took someone's wedding ring. They took cell phones and made
calls on those cell phones.
This is the concern, this was the type of concern expressed
to us by the governor on down in Dnepropetrovsk, the fact that
we would have a motley crew like this. And another point they
made is that, yes, some speak Ukrainian Russian, but a lot of
them are Muscovites. They speak with a Moscow accent. They are
not locals. They are people who have been recruited, been
trained, rather poorly trained, and then thrown into this
Our goal has to be to try to wind down this crisis, wind
down this situation, and I believe we have an opportunity to do
that. We have an opportunity because we have had this election
now, and we have a plan which yields a lot of local autonomy.
We have a plan which is a rather generous peace plan which,
obviously, offers amnesty, as you know, for those who struggled
against the government in Ukraine.
You have the will of the local Ukrainian Russian-speaking
population, the majority of that population, to be part of this
new system because they will be able to elect their own
regional representation. But one thing stands in the way. What
stands in the way is the insistence on President Vladimir Putin
that he continues to bring in heavy weaponry and put that into
this struggle, and as a consequence drive up the violence in
Russia is stepping up its actions, and that is why the
United States and why Europe is working on a plan now. I must
mention, we already passed out of this bill, the Ukraine
Support Act, H.R. 4278, we passed this out of committee, myself
and Eliot Engel were the authors of it. It expanded our
President's authority to increase assistance for democracy and
civil society there, and enhanced U.S.-international
broadcasting that we are trying to use right now to counter the
Russian propaganda in Russia.
The administration has provided $23 million in nonlethal
security assistance since March and proposed a $40 million
program to train and equip elements of the National Guard in
the Ukraine. The announcement yesterday that the U.S. and EU
have agreed to impose new sanctions, including on the defense,
financial, and energy sectors, is an acknowledgment that the
actions taken to date have been insufficient to deter President
Given that the Europeans can bring far more leverage to
bear on Russia than the United States, the responsibility falls
heavily on them to convince President Putin that his current
course cannot succeed and will only bring increasing pain to
his country and his economy. Only under the pressure, that kind
of pressure, is he likely to choose peace and finally allow the
Ukrainian people to achieve the security, prosperity, and
freedom they have so long sought, and I think that is the best
course of action. And I yield back.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
And we would now like to hear an opening statement from
Judge Poe, chairman----
Mr. Sherman. Are you going to go Democrat or chairman?
Mr. Rohrabacher. Okay, Mr. Sherman, the ranking member of
Mr. Sherman. Thank you.
You listen to the American media and it is as simple as an
old western movie. That is true of this crisis, that is true of
an awful lot of crises where we think that one side is the
black hats, the other side is the white hats. This committee,
or combination of two subcommittees, has a diversity of views
and I think will be a good exposition of the range and
complexity of this crisis. I think the one thing we all agree
on is that the Time magazine cover, ``Cold War II,'' needs to
The plane was shot down, almost certainly with an SA-11 or
similar missile, I think certainly an accident, was shot down
in a war zone in which separatists were shooting down other
planes. The separatists did not use reasonable care to be sure
that the plane they were shooting down was, like the other
planes they had shot down, a Ukrainian military plane.
There was a lack of care to go around. The Ukrainian
Government closed its air space over this area up to 32,000
feet. They knew their own planes were being shot down and it
was perhaps the height of arrogance to think, well, they are
shooting our planes down at 10,000 or whatever thousand feet,
so we will let planes, invite planes to fly over at 32,000
We have got the Malaysian Airlines aware that planes are
being shot down in this zone by not shoulder-fired missiles,
but something more advanced, and they said, well, 32,000 sounds
good to us, we will go 33,000.
We have got the separatists who clearly didn't exercise due
care. And finally, you have a Russian Government who knew
better than the Ukrainian Government the military capacities of
the separatists and could have closed their own air space along
the border, thus making it impossible for civilian planes to
fly where civilian planes should not have been flying.
Of course, the separatists could have issued their own,
since they style themselves a government, limitation use of the
air space. Whether that would have been listened to by anybody,
I don't know. But if Russia had closed its air space
immediately adjoining this Ukrainian region, planes would have
avoided the area.
It is clear that sanctions are justified against Russia.
They are interfering in the Ukraine. They are armoring the
separatists. And I think that was well summarized by the
gentleman from Massachusetts. That being said, our friends in
Kiev who want us to take actions on their behalf ought to be
taking some actions on their behalf. They ought to be offering
the most generous possible package of local autonomy. Instead,
they come and say, well, maybe we will continue the practice of
having the governors of each oblast--state, if you will--
appointed by the central government. I have worked with the
gentleman from Texas, and I know if that was the practice here
of our Federal Government appointing the Texas governor, well,
we might have some problems.
They should be offering budgetary autonomy. They have done
so in the vaguest possible words, whereas the Party of Regions,
the last party to win an election held in peace, has put
forward a more expansive list of actual autonomy. So I am not
willing to see the whole world convulsed because those in Kiev
could say, well, 51 percent of the people of the entire country
support a strict centralized system. It is not our job to work
with our allies to get them 100 percent of what they argue is
justice. It is our job to work with these allies when there is
a great injustice, as we are seeing now.
And finally, there were comments about Yanukovych being
driven from power. He ran on a platform, on really a
constitutional issue, that he would face west. He then reversed
himself and faced east. What I would like to know from the
witnesses, because our chairman brought this up, is did the
Ukrainian people have a capacity to reverse that reversal
through the ballot box or was Yanukovych about to take action
which legally was irreversible in signing the agreement with
Russia, or as a practical matter would have been irreversible
because the EU would not have accepted the Ukraine in its new
status after the next regularly scheduled election?
So I look forward to what I think will be a far more wide-
ranging and interesting discussion of all of the issues
involving the Ukraine and the plane than I have heard in most
American media. And I yield back.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you very much.
And now we have Judge Poe.
Mr. Poe. I thank the chairman.
I think it is important that we view this more in a
historical long-term perspective than just the isolated, small,
tragic issue of the Malaysian airplane being shot down. That is
the way I see it.
Putin is the center of all of this. He sees himself as the
modern day Peter the Great. Even in a recent profile of Putin,
his closest advisors called him czar. Much like Peter the
Great, Putin sees and wants an expanding Russian empire.
Any objective observer would conclude nothing has stopped
Putin in his desire for more territory. The administration and
our European allies have tried to shame and isolate him by
kicking Russia out of the G-8. He doesn't care about those
diplomatic niceties, and it hasn't had any effect on him or his
decision making. Putin and his cronies have brushed off
pinprick sanctions and other weak attempts to get him to change
his course. He hasn't changed his long-term course, in my
opinion. The lack of strong response to Putin's aggression has
only really encouraged him to be more aggressive.
And then over the sky of Eastern Ukraine, a surface-to-air
missile was launched and it destroyed the Malaysian civilian
airliner. This dastardly deed killed--rather murdered--298
people. The missile and launcher were Russian. This is a
photograph of a similar missile launcher that is Russian made.
The individuals shooting down the plane were so-called Russian-
backed separatists in Ukraine, and apparently the crash site,
which is a crime scene on the ground, is controlled by pro-
Russian sympathizers, and it has been compromised by
malcontents. As the chairman pointed out, they are pillaging
the wreckage site, taking property from the people that were
murdered on that plane. Unlike the civilized world, Putin's
reaction was to deny that he had anything to do with it and
persist in outlandish Area 51-type conspiracies about who did
Putin, I call him the Napoleon of Siberia, has fingerprints
all over this Lusitania-type incident. This is the latest in a
series of aggressive acts by the Russian bear. I did mention in
this committee on March 25th that Putin is determined to start
Cold War II. Ever since then, he keeps doing things to
encourage that philosophy of wanting to be starting that Cold
War II again.
In 2008, years ago, most Americans don't even remember, the
Russians invaded the sovereign nation of Georgia. Not the State
of Georgia, but the nation of Georgia--unlike one of our fellow
committee members--was worried about Georgia being invaded and
he missed it. It was the Republic of Georgia. The Russian bear
gobbled up one-third of the territory. The world leaders, they
protested loudly, but they were glad it wasn't their homeland,
and then the world moved on. The Russian tanks are still in
one-third of Georgia. I have seen them. I have been there.
Then the Russian bear hibernated for a while and then in
2013 it woke up hungry and it had its sights on its prey of
Crimea. That belongs, still belongs, to Ukraine. So to satisfy
its appetite for more czar-like territory it was gobbled up.
Now the Russians unlawfully occupy Crimea. The world leaders
once again got on television and voiced opposition, then they
went off back to their policy of what I call appeasement.
So, still hungry, the bear of the north woke up again in
Eastern Ukraine, looked for more prey, and it subversively has
supported insurrection against the Ukrainian Government to gain
more territory. Reports indicate Russian special forces are
playing the role of pro-Russian separatists, Russian special
forces that were similarly pretending to be Georgian
separatists. Battles are being fought, people are dying, and
Russian imperialism persists in its aggression. This seems like
this is a war to me on Ukraine.
And then the Malaysian airplane was shot down. Also, as the
chairman pointed out, other Ukrainian military aircraft have
been shot down. Two Ukrainian military jets, over Ukrainian
sovereignty, were shot down by Russian missiles fired from
Russia. That seems to be somewhat aggressive. The world leaders
are outraged, but the bear has not stopped.
So what will the heads of states do? Will the world leaders
continue to take the position the bear hasn't eaten them and
they will do little but pontificate and hope the bear's
appetite is satisfied? Maybe the bear will hibernate again.
When it wakes up, like it always has, it will wake up hungry,
and then when it roars, who will be devoured next, the rest of
Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, or just another
group of people on an airplane flying over another country?
Only Putin knows what the roar of the Russian bear will bring
to the rest of us.
Appeasement certainly doesn't seem to be working, doesn't
seemed to have stopped the aggression. It is important that we
do what we can to help the Ukrainian nation keep its
sovereignty. Yes, it is their country. They should defend it.
It is their responsibility. But we can provide them military
equipment, jam Russian missiles. The Russians must be made to
understand they have to stop invading other people's territory.
Second, as when I was in Ukraine, all the Ukrainians talked
about was being energy independent from Russia. That is,
developing their own natural gas to compete against Gazprom and
getting U.S. natural gas to them. They wanted that. They don't
know our answer on that.
And third, we actually need sanctions that work to have an
impact. So I ask the question: Is there not one bold Churchill
to be found among the overpopulated, boastful Chamberlains
among the world leaders? We shall see.
I yield back.
Mr. Keating. Will the gentleman yield? Will the gentleman
Mr. Poe. I yield back.
Mr. Rohrabacher. We will have some time for interaction
after the witnesses testify. And I guess, Your Honor, that is
just the way it is.
We are going to go to the witnesses now. And anyone who has
an opening statement, or extraneous material to add to the
record at this point, it will be added to the record, without
We have four witnesses with us today. I would ask if they
could try to, unlike the rest of us up here, limit the actual
testimony to 5 minutes, although your written testimony can be
as long as you would like. And then we will actually try to
have a dialogue on this and ask you about the positions you
have taken, and perhaps some questions that will utilize your
expertise and help us get a better understanding of exactly
what is going on in Ukraine.
I will introduce all four witnesses and then we will
proceed with the testimony of each witness, and then a
Our first witness is Ian Brzezinski, a senior resident
fellow with the Brent Scowcroft Center on International
Security at the Atlantic Council. He served as deputy assistant
secretary of defense for Europe and NATO policy between 2001
and 2005. He has a long tenure of working with national
security issues, including working on Capitol Hill for 7 years.
He also worked as a volunteer in Ukraine in the early 1990s,
advising the Ukrainian National Security Council, Foreign
Ministry, Defense Ministry, and Parliament.
We have Anthony Salvia, who is the director of the American
Institute in Ukraine, a privately funded, nonprofit
organization dedicated to providing information and education
about the United States policy in that country. He served as an
executive assistant to the president of Radio Free Europe,
Radio Liberty from 1988 to 1993, and then went to Russia as
director of the Moscow Programming Center for the RFE-R, Radio
Free Europe/Radio Liberty, from 1993 to 1996. He is a graduate
of Johns Hopkins University, has a master's degree in European
Affairs and International Economics.
Next we have Dr. Leon Aron. He is a resident scholar and
director of Russian studies at the American Enterprise
Institute here in Washington. He is widely published. He is an
expert on Russia, having authored three books and hundreds of
articles on the subject. He is also a frequent media
commentator, and earned both a master's degree and his Ph.D.
From Columbia University.
And we have with us Ambassador William Taylor. He is the
vice president for Middle East and Africa at the U.S. Institute
of Peace. From 2011 to 2013, he was the special coordinator for
the Middle East transitions at the Department of State, and he
has also coordinated our assistance to Egypt Tunisia, Libya,
and Syria. He served as the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine from
2006 to 2009. Before that, he served in Baghdad and Kabul. He
is a graduate of West Point and a veteran of the United States
We turn to our witnesses now. And, Mr. Brzezinski, you may
STATEMENT OF MR. IAN BRZEZINSKI, RESIDENT SENIOR FELLOW, BRENT
SCOWCROFT CENTER ON INTERNATIONAL SECURITY, ATLANTIC COUNCIL
Mr. Brzezinski. Chairman Rohrabacher, Chairman Poe, Ranking
Member Keating, Ranking Member Sherman, members of the
committee, thank you for the privilege of appearing before this
hearing to discuss ramifications of the shootdown of Malaysian
Airlines flight 17. That tragedy is the consequence of Russia's
invasion of Ukraine, and specifically the Kremlin's stoking of
an insurrection in Eastern Ukraine. The MH-17 shootdown should
prompt us to carefully assess the effectiveness of the West's
response to these provocative acts of aggression.
The invasion of Ukraine began in February. Today, some 6
months later, Russia still occupies Crimea. The insurrection in
Eastern Ukraine, which has intensified, has been led and fought
by Russian operatives, enabled by Russian weapons, and
reinforced by Russian military forces massed along Ukraine's
Yesterday the United States and West European officials
announced agreement on a new set of sanctions against Russia.
As we learn more about these sanctions, I hope they will mark a
departure from the empty warnings, brooding ministerials, and
the hesitancy and incrementalism that has characterized the
West's reaction to this invasion.
Indeed, over the last 6 months, U.S. policy appears to have
been shaped more by the lowest common denominator of what our
allies are willing to do rather than by initiative and decisive
action on the part of Washington. And it has been
counterproductive. It has emboldened Russia. After each
increment of targeted sanctions, Russia has increased its
support to its proxies in Ukraine. The Kremlin's deployment of
irregulars with small arms is now complemented by training and
recruitment centers in Russia, and its transfer to its proxies
of tanks, rocket launchers, surface-to-air missiles, including
most notably the Buk SA-11 air defense system, among other
If the pending decisions by the United States and the EU
are a continuation of past hesitancy and incrementalism, they
risk leading to a stalemate in Ukraine, another frozen conflict
that will leave Ukraine crippled and unable to pursue its
European aspirations. Worse, it can embolden Putin to press
further into Ukraine and pursue similar strategies toward
Moldova and the Baltic States.
The West needs a comprehensive strategy, targeted at
persuading Putin to remove his forces from Ukraine, deterring
Russia from further aggression against Ukraine and other
neighboring countries, reinforcing Ukraine's capabilities for
self-defense and assisting Ukraine to become a prosperous,
democratic European state.
Towards these ends, the U.S. should undertake the following
initiatives. First, stronger economic sanctions against Russia
are in order. The overly selective scope of current sanctions
has failed to inflict the systemic economic pain necessary to
make an authoritarian regime rethink its actions. Sectoral
sanctions should be imposed and the key targets should be
Russia's energy and financial sectors. There should be no
loopholes and no exceptions.
Second, a more robust effort is needed to shore up NATO
allies in Ukraine. In early June, President Obama announced the
European Reassurance Initiative to reinforce Central European
allies and build the military capabilities of East European
partners. This is an important initiative, but almost 2 months
later it remains unclear exactly what it will yield. It would
be useful if the ERI established a strategically significant
U.S. enduring military presence in Poland and the Baltic
States. It would be even better and more useful if NATO's West
European allies contributed to this initiative.
Third, we need to provide military assurance to Ukraine. To
date, NATO and the United States have unwisely done the
opposite. They have drawn a red line on the alliance's eastern
frontier that leaves Kiev militarily temporarily isolated. Now
that Russia is firing artillery into Ukraine, erasing that red
line has become more urgent.
Toward that end, the United States should grant Ukraine's
request for lethal military equipment, including surface-to-air
missiles and anti-tank weapons, deploy intelligence and
surveillance capabilities in Ukraine, along with military
trainers, conduct military exercises in Ukraine to help train
its armed forces. None of these initiatives would threaten
Fourth, the West needs to step up its efforts to counter
Russia's aggressive propaganda campaigns. The Kremlin's effort
against Ukraine in this realm has been the most intense we have
seen since the end of the Cold War.
Fifth, the West needs to support Ukraine's effort to reform
its economy and integrate into Europe. To its credit,
Washington has done well in mobilizing international financial
support for Ukraine. Freeing up U.S. LNG exports to Central and
Eastern Europe would be another way to reinforce the region's
security and help Ukraine diversify its energy base.
And finally, the West needs to reanimate the vision of a
Europe whole, free, and secure. The situation in Eastern Europe
today necessitates that NATO make clear its open-door policy is
no passive phrase or empty slogan.
Mr. Chairman, the shootdown of MH-17 is a stark reminder of
how regional conflict can have immediate implications far
beyond its immediate vicinity. I hope the sanctions that are
being rolled out today will reflect a firmer response and
stronger leadership on the part of the United States. That will
be necessary if the West is going to convince President Putin
to reverse his dangerous course.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Brzezinski follows:]
Mr. Rohrabacher. Mr. Salvia.
STATEMENT OF MR. ANTHONY SALVIA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMERICAN
INSTITUTE IN UKRAINE
Mr. Salvia. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you to Judge
Poe and Congressman Keating and Congressman Sherman and the
whole committee for the opportunity to address this joint
subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The controversy over the shootdown of Malaysian Airlines
flight 17 remains unresolved. There are the predictable charges
and countercharges, which are no substitute for proper
investigation resulting in the conclusion that all parties,
above all Russia and Ukraine, can and must accept.
Meanwhile, the conflict in Eastern Ukraine continues to
grind on to the detriment of all Ukrainians. It is safe to say
many hundreds have died. I think the New York Times said
yesterday 800 since April have died in Eastern Ukraine and
thousands have been wounded. According to the U.N., some
230,000 have fled their homes, of whom more than 100,000 have
been driven out of the country. Donetsk, a city of 1 million,
is under siege. Its water supply is at risk. Sections of the
city have no electricity, sewage, or gas. Shops are closed.
Food is increasingly hard to come by.
What will happen now? Will there be a cease-fire leading to
a negotiated settlement so as to salvage Ukraine's increasingly
slim prospects for unity? Or will Kiev continue to seek a
military victory in the east and use the National Guard, which
includes in its ranks member of the extreme nationalist Praviy
Sektor, to repress the native population?
As of now, Kiev seems determined to prosecute the war,
which means in the context to create demographic change in the
country. Kiev cannot afford to pay its soldiers. There is a
high rate of desertion and Ukraine's economy is teetering on
the brink of collapse. But it is making headway in one area,
namely in the killing of East Ukrainian civilians, which
Western observers at long last have begun to take note,
including a New York Times article of yesterday.
And indeed, as Human Rights Watch reported last week from
``Unguided rockets launched apparently by Ukrainian
Government forces and pro-government militias have
killed at least 16 civilians and wounded many more in
insurgent-controlled areas of Donetsk and its suburbs,
in at least four attacks between July 12 and 21, 2014.
The use of indiscriminate rockets in populated areas
violates international humanitarian law, or the laws of
war, and may amount to war crimes.''
Nevertheless, there is no evidence that Kiev is curtailing
the use of these missiles in populated areas or, for that
matter, the resort to air power and artillery against anti-Kiev
fighters Poroshenko calls terrorists, dirt, and parasites.
Poroshenko brushed off calls from Paris, Berlin, and Moscow to
extend his June 20th cease-fire and resumed his offensive
against his own people. The Eastern Ukrainians are responding
by shooting down as many of Kiev's military plans as they can
and the cycle of violence spins on.
There are those in Washington who see Ukraine not at all
for itself, but strictly as an adjunct to its obsession with
Russia, concerning which the prevailing attitude is, we must
win, you must lose. Perhaps Washington and its friends in Kiev
can succeed in decimating Donetsk and Luhansk, but this is not
likely to be the end of it.
Indeed, in the Washington Post just the other day, I
believe it was the day before yesterday, Serhiy Kudelia of
Baylor University wrote about the prospect of you can defeat
Donetsk and Luhansk, but what about a long-term
counterinsurgency that leaves the place in a state of not the
same degree of upheaval as all-out war, but a situation of a
lack of resolution, a kind of Northern Ireland situation, only
It is unlikely Poroshenko would be embarked on his present
course without Washington's support and pressure from his own
radical nationalists. It is telling that on July 22nd,
President Obama called for a cease-fire in Gaza, but said
nothing about a cease-fire in Ukraine.
There is no military solution to Ukraine's internal
problems, which are political, economic, and cultural in
nature. Ukraine is the second-poorest country in Europe. Its
foreign exchange reserves are shot. All resources are being
poured into the campaign to destroy the most prosperous part of
the country, East Ukraine.
And indeed, Serhiy Kudelia, writing in the Washington Post
the day before yesterday, I don't know how he came up with this
figure, but he put a figure of $800 million on the need just to
conclude this campaign on the part of the Kiev government.
Where are they supposed to get this money when they are in
arrears to the tune of multi-, multi-, multi-millions and
billion, and then to add on this expense? Where does the money
As former Acting Prime Minister Yatseniuk stated upon his
recent resignation, the coalition, the governing ``coalition of
Fatherland, UDAR, and Svoboda has fallen apart. Laws haven't
been voted on. Soldiers can't be paid. There is no money to buy
rifles. There is no possibility to store gas. What options do
we have?'' asked Yatseniuk.
Well, there is this option: A comprehensive cease-fire,
genuine negotiations, and a balanced settlement that addresses
Ukraine's real needs. Such an approach would command wide
European and especially German support.
Dr. Robert Legvold of Columbia University in New York
recently observed that Europeans will not support one side
pushing for military victory over the other. He said,
``Kiev's part in the political dialogue must be
flexible and genuinely open to meeting the concerns of
the majorities in all of Ukraine's eight eastern
provinces. It means more than convening peace talks,
even if without preconditions. It means getting the
U.S., the United States, to invest more effort in
drawing all parties toward a political settlement.''
That is the heart of the matter, how do we get Washington on
board with the idea of a cease-fire negotiation, a peaceful
settlement? Thank you.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Salvia follows:]
Mr. Rohrabacher. Mr. Taylor.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE WILLIAM B. TAYLOR, VICE PRESIDENT
FOR MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA, UNITED STATES INSTITUTE OF PEACE
(FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE)
Ambassador Taylor. Chairman Rohrabacher, Chairman Poe,
members of the subcommittees, thank you very much for the
opportunity to speak to you today on the shooting down of
Malaysia flight 17 and the escalating crisis in Ukraine. I
commend you for this timely and important hearing. The views I
express today are solely my own. They do not represent those of
the United States Institute of Peace because we do not take
In my view, today Russia is the single greatest threat to
peace in Europe. If the West does not confront this threat,
that is, if we appease the Russians now, we will have to
confront an even larger threat tomorrow closer to home.
Members of this committee, and my panel members, are very
familiar, very aware of the situation in Ukraine. Russian
support for the so-called separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk--
weapons, leadership, financing, organization, personnel,
fighters--is the only thing keeping the Ukrainian Government
from establishing security in Southeastern Ukraine. Security is
needed to find the remaining victims of the missile strike on
the Malaysia airliner and to complete the investigation.
Russian support allows the so-called separatists to continue to
impede those efforts.
In my view, we must confront the Russian war against
Ukraine. This aggression started with the quiet invasion of
Crimea last spring. A sham, at-the-end-of-a-rifle referendum
was followed by an illegal annexation. The international
community should not allow that annexation to stand. Until that
situation is resolved to the satisfaction of Ukraine, the
Russian Government should pay serious penalties to Ukraine for
the temporary loss of income and illegally confiscated assets
that would have come to Ukraine from Crimea.
The international community did not confront the Kremlin on
Crimea. As a consequence, the Russians continued their
aggression in Donetsk and Luhansk. The leaders of the
separatist movement unit have become almost exclusively
Russian. Russian equipment continues to flow across the border
unimpeded. This equipment, including sophisticated anti-
aircraft weapons, shot down the Malaysian airliner, killing 298
people. No matter what individual separatist pushed the button
to fire the weapon, let's be clear, Mr. Chairman, the tragedy
is Russian responsibility.
What should be done? First, human decency requires the
return of the victims to their families. Further, experts need
access to the crash site to complete the investigation. If the
so-called separatists continue to impede these efforts, the
international community, led by the Dutch, Australians, and
Malaysians, supported by other nations with victims on MH-17,
including the United States, and with the approval of the
Ukrainians, should provide an armed international security
force to protect the investigators and allow them to find
victims and complete their investigation. That investigation
should lead to criminal prosecutions of those found
Second, the international community, led by the United
States, should provide Ukraine with the means to eliminate the
separatist forces in their country. This means weapons,
military advice, intelligence, and financial support to pay and
equip their soldiers.
Third, the international community should follow the
individual travel bans and asset freezes with harsh economic
sanctions on entire sectors of the Russian economy to deter the
Kremlin from continued support to the separatists, to force
them to close their border to weapons, fighters, and military
support, and to pressure them to return Crimea to Ukraine.
Fourth, the international community, led by the United
States, should provide financial support to Ukraine as it
simultaneously confronts Russian aggression and undertakes
serious economic and political reform. The International
Monetary Fund loans may have to be increased. Bilateral support
will have to be expanded. Advice on economic reform, energy
pricing, and anti-corruption in particular, will be needed.
Fifth, the international community should respect Ukraine's
right to decide with whom to associate politically and
economically. Western political and security institutions,
specifically the European Union and NATO, should be open to
membership applications from Ukraine.
Mr. Chairman, it is a tragedy that it took the shooting
down of a civilian airliner over Ukraine to force the
international community to confront Russian aggression. If we
don't confront it now, it is appeasement, and Russia will not
stop at Donetsk.
Thank you, and I am happy to answer your questions.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you very much for your testimony.
[The prepared statement of Ambassador Taylor follows:]
Mr. Rohrabacher. Dr. Aron.
STATEMENT OF LEON ARON, PH.D., RESIDENT SCHOLAR AND DIRECTOR OF
RUSSIAN STUDIES, THE AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE
Mr. Aron. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Answering your
call to see how the settlement could be reached in Ukraine, I
think it is very helpful to look at the sources of Russian
behavior and put the conflict in the wider military and
political context to see what shapes Mr. Putin's strategy.
From the moment the regime of Viktor Yanukovych was
overthrown in Kiev at the end of February, Russia, that is Mr.
Vladimir Putin, has pursued three strategic goals in Ukraine.
First, to punish, humiliate, destabilize, if possible dismember
and ultimately derail a Euro-bound Ukraine. Second, to prevent
the West from imposing meaningful, binding sanctions. And
finally, to continue to solidify Mr. Putin's domestic political
base by rallying around the flag.
This third objective is the most important one. By all
indications, Mr. Putin is engineering a Presidency for life.
This is not an easy task in a Russia with a stagnant economy,
possibly sliding in recession, rising food prices, enormous
corruption, and continuing decline in the quality of education,
health care, and upward mobility. As recently as the end of
2013, according to public opinion polls, the Russian people's
trust in Putin's promises, his popularity, and the desire to
see him President again in 2018 were at record lows.
All, however, was forgiven and forgotten in the deafening
din of the monopolistic propaganda that followed the annexation
of Crimea and the by-proxy invasion of east-south Ukraine. The
patriotic euphoria at the sight of these alleged victories, for
the alleged just cause of saving the ethic brethren from the
depredation of what Moscow continues to call the Nazi junta in
Kiev, combined with an equally unbridled paranoia of the NATO
plots from which only President Putin is capable of shielding
the motherland, all of that has proven irresistible.
But there is something else that interfered with Mr.
Vladimir Putin's success, and that is the unexpected Ukrainian
advance on the battlefield, which created big political
problems for Putin. As I have mentioned, the effort of the
Russian domestic propaganda machine has been very successful.
But if one lives by propagandistic hysteria, one may also die
or at least be bled by it. The propaganda-induced mood cannot
be tamped down quickly to justify giving up on the forces of
civil self-defense, as the Kremlin continues to call its
proxies in Ukraine.
Therefore, a retreat from, not to mention a defeat in
Ukraine is not a political option for Mr. Putin. So in the face
of the Ukrainian advance, from the beginning of July, Russia in
effect has imposed a no-fly zone over east-south Ukraine, and
that is the political and military context in which the tragedy
of the downing of MH-17 has occurred.
Now, where from now, as far as Russia is concerned? Well,
if the efforts to stop the Ukrainian advance with a no-fly
zone, as well as the accelerated movement of troops and heavy
equipment across the border, which has been mentioned here
already, fail, Mr. Putin may declare Ukraine in the throes of a
fratricidal civil war and thus necessitating Russia's direct
military intervention to protect innocent civilian lives.
In doing so, Mr. Putin is likely to invoke the so-called
Libya precedent, which Moscow repeatedly hinted at as a
justification for such an action. After all, from their point
of view, Moscow would only be following what the West did in
Libya in 2011.
This option, however, is not without risks, and the biggest
of them is that the Ukrainian Army is likely to put up a fight.
And if Russian casualties begin to multiply, Putin's domestic
support may begin to erode very quickly, because over half of
the Russians, according to public opinion polls, repeatedly
told the pollsters that they do not want Russia to invade
Therefore, it seems to me that Vladimir Putin's preferred
choice is likely to be a call for an immediate cessation of
hostilities, and, as it has done repeatedly in the past, Moscow
will call also for direct negotiations between Kiev and it
Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with that, in fact
that should be welcomed, except we have reasons to doubt that
the real peace rather than victory in Ukraine is the goal,
because such a cease-fire will enable Russian separatists to
stay in control of the territories they hold today and Russia's
proposed truce would allow Russia to have its cake and eat it,
too. It will stop the Ukrainian offensive, it will save the
proxies from defeat, while at the same time avoiding resorting
to the direct invasion by Russian regular troops.
And so whatever the actual tactics, Russia's strategy will
continue to be shaped by the fact that a successful low-
intensity war in Ukraine is a key domestic political imperative
of the Putin regime. That, in turn, makes not the prospect for
peace, but a bloody stalemate as the likeliest outcome in the
short and perhaps even medium term.
Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Aron follows:]
Mr. Rohrabacher. Well, I want to thank all of our
witnesses. We have as not as broad a range of opinion as I
would have liked to have had, although we have differences of
opinion in the panel.
I plan to ask my 5 minutes worth of questions and then we
will give my other colleagues a chance.
First of all, do we agree that this was not an intentional
shootdown of this airline? Does everyone agree to that? I mean,
nobody said, let's shoot down a commercial airline.
With that said, there are--not counting the victims of this
airline--did we say there were 800 people who have been killed
Mr. Salvia. According to the New York Times of yesterday,
they gave a figure of 800 since April.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Okay. Is that figure about right with the
rest of you?
Ambassador Taylor. It is probably more like 1,000.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Probably more.
Of those who are dead, how many are civilians from the
eastern part of Ukraine who have been killed by the military
operations by the Ukrainian Government in that region, of the
dead? Of that 800 dead, are we talking about half of them? Or
the vast majority of them?
Mr. Aron. Mr. Chairman, it is very difficult in the
conditions of the urban warfare, it is very difficult to
establish which side killed how many people. And the propaganda
efforts on both sides are tremendous.
Mr. Rohrabacher. So would you agree with that, Mr. Salvia,
that it is hard to tell?
Mr. Salvia. Absolutely, yes.
Mr. Rohrabacher. It seems to me that it wouldn't be that
hard to tell. It seems to me that if you have dead civilians on
the ground in Eastern Ukraine that you would have to assume
that they were not being shot by, intentionally, by the
separatists who are there as part of their community. That
would seem to be that way.
Ambassador Taylor. Mr. Chairman, it is hard to tell. We
don't know. But what we do know is that we have recently seen
that the separatists have killed civilians and put them in a
grave, in a mass grave. We found this over the last couple of
Mr. Rohrabacher. The separatists killed the civilians?
Ambassador Taylor. Yes, sir.
Mr. Rohrabacher. For what reason did they do that?
Ambassador Taylor. We don't know, sir. What we know is
there are some dead people.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Have there been any cease-fires in this
between the separatists and the Ukrainian Army? There have
Mr. Aron. There have been cease-fires.
Mr. Rohrabacher. How many cease-fires have there been?
Mr. Aron. There were several. But the latest one, if you
remember, Mr. Chairman, the latest one is of course because of
MH-17. It was a unilateral cease-fire. But the one before ended
when the separatists attacked the Donetsk airport. It was a
unilateral cease-fire by Ukraine, and it was broken by the
Mr. Rohrabacher. Okay. So there have been cease-fires. Do
you agree with that, Mr. Salvia?
Mr. Salvia. Your question? I am sorry? Will you repeat the
Mr. Rohrabacher. How many cease-fires do we know of there?
Mr. Salvia. Well, the main one was the one Dr. Aron was
referring to, which was June 20th to June 30th. So it was a
tentative cease-fire, but that then ended in renewed fighting.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Okay. Have there been other cease-fires?
Mr. Salvia. Brief ones. Again, as Dr. Aron said. After the
immediate shootdown of the airplane there was a brief one.
There has not been a prolonged cease-fire coupled with serious
Mr. Rohrabacher. I think your point that we have been
calling for cease-fires in Palestine, Israeli cease-fires, we
don't seem to be putting that type of energy into calling for
cease-fires and negotiations in Ukraine.
Is this issue one of where people are demanding federalism
and there is not a negotiation on this issue? Or is this just a
matter of the people are just demanding that they have a
separate status, totally separate status, and become
independent of Ukraine? The people who are actually fighting,
what demand have they made?
Mr. Brzezinski. Sir, I guess my impression is, is that
while there is generally always a demand for more autonomy from
Mr. Rohrabacher. Yes.
Mr. Brzezinski [continuing]. This conflict wasn't created
by Ukrainians seeking greater autonomy. It was created by
Russian operatives who were sent into Eastern Ukraine and
seized buildings and violently closed off the region.
Mr. Rohrabacher. So the people who are seizing buildings,
the first buildings that were seized that I remember in Ukraine
were seized by the people who were trying to force the
democratically elected President out of his office, seizing
buildings in the western part of Ukraine. And I am sure those
were local people, although there has been the suggestions that
they were very radical. And so buildings were seized there.
Do you agree, Doctor, with that analysis, that the people
who were basically starting this and seizing those buildings
originally were all Russian agents and not local people?
Mr. Salvia. Well, I don't know. I think that may go a bit
far. I mean, it certainly is true what you say that a lot of
this originated last winter when you had the efforts to
overthrow what you correctly say was the democratically elected
Government of Ukraine, a government which faced elections in
In other words, if the opposition in Ukraine was upset with
what Yanukovych did about the European Association Agreement,
they had a whole year to organize, to deal with the matter at
the ballot box. After all, the Maidan movement, which I was
hugely sympathetic to myself, personally, was all about
European values. Well, what are European, Western values but
democratic elections? Elections were coming.
Unfortunately, it didn't go that way. And those elections
could have been monitored by Western monitors to see if there
was any kind of vote fraud, had they occurred. We saw what
happened in 2004 during the Orange Revolution when there was
vote fraud and our Western monitors found it and they brought
it to light. That could have happened again. You could have had
a democratic process taking place and these issues dealt with
Instead, to get to your point, a violent solution was opted
for. And I was in the Maidan in February, saw young guys
running around town with spears and pikes and sharpened
metallic objects. There were huge military tents in Maidan with
crate after crate of Molotov cocktail mix. What were these guys
doing with that stuff? Where did they get it?
In any case, so you had the violent overthrow of the
government. And then the uprisings in the west, Lviv declared
itself a Party-of-Regions-free-zone and that kind of thing.
This was all seen as hugely provocative in the East.
Mr. Rohrabacher. The most important thing that you are
bringing out is that the violence that we are talking about did
not start with the separatists taking over a building in the
eastern part of Ukraine, although that was a violent act. And
the military coming in to then make sure that those buildings
were not occupied, but instead were under the sovereignty of
the Kiev government created more violence.
There is one other question I had that was specifically--
oh, yeah. The question that was posed, and I believe by one of
the other panelists, was that if indeed Yanukovych would have
signed this agreement with Russia rather than the European
agreement which was offered, which he didn't feel was as good
an agreement, could the Ukrainian people in the next election
cycle, which would have been 2 years away, eliminated that
agreement and eliminated--well, they could have eliminated
Yanukovych, obviously--through the ballot box or was this
agreement a situation that there was no democratic alternative
to counteract because it would have been permanent?
Mr. Salvia. Let me just say that what Yanukovych did was he
said no to the Russian Eurasian Customs Union. He said no to
that, right? He said yes to the European Association Agreement,
though pending revision, because he said this is radically not
in our interest, I am not going to sign in Vilnius, we won't
sign that. And he also said that the European incentive package
was completely inadequate, of $800 million, contingent on
renewed IMF funding, which he didn't want to do.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Well, whatever agreement that he signed
with Russia, could the people of Ukraine have elected a
Parliament that would have eliminated that 2 years down the
Mr. Salvia. I think so, because the agreement that Putin
was offering him at that time was--again, Yanukovych rejected
the Russian deal of entering the Eurasian Customs Union. So
there was no treaty or anything like that. What Putin was
offering was a financing deal, saying $20 billion coming to you
and a cut in gas prices. That was a simple deal, and that could
have been reversed or not.
Mr. Rohrabacher. First of all, we hope that the violence
that now plagues Ukraine, that there is not only a cease-fire,
but that there is a cessation, that people with this airline
catastrophe where you had so many innocent people lost their
lives just from a commercial airliner, let's hope that this
jars people to the point that they sit down and take nonviolent
options seriously and negotiation seriously with each other.
That is not the case, if Mr. Brzezinski is correct, that this
is basically an outside-motivated violent episode, and it is
not just erupting from the inside.
I happen to think that this started when Yanukovych was
overthrown with violence, and that is the point it started.
Whether or not that means that now outsiders have taken over
the situation and that Ukrainians themselves are not going to
be able to do this, come to an understanding, I hope that we
play a positive role in bringing that together. And I would
hope that if Russia is indeed fanning the flames rather than
trying to just react to other violence that is going on, I
would hope that the Russian Government sees a way to start
bringing peace to Ukraine as well. I hope that we would submit
that to them and their conscience and turn a spotlight on it in
So I now yield to my ranking member, Mr. Keating.
Mr. Keating. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Salvia, I noticed in your comments the absence of
Russian involvement conspicuously in this. And you are pointing
the finger at the constitutional government's repression of the
national population and Washington's obsession with Russia.
Now, I want to learn a little bit more about your
organization, the American Institute in Ukraine. I want to ask
you a question, how it was founded, who is funding it, where it
is headquartered--I couldn't find a site--where it is based.
Just briefly. What is the American Institute in Ukraine?
Mr. Salvia. It is a nonprofit organization. It is a very
small group. It is myself and a partner working with a media
group in Kiev that put on roundtable discussions in Kiev, at
least until recently. It has been kind of hard to operate----
Mr. Keating. So it is headquartered in Kiev?
Mr. Salvia. Well, you know----
Mr. Keating. Is it registered as a foreign agent?
Mr. Salvia. We had an office in Kiev.
Mr. Keating. Are you registered as a foreign agent, then?
Mr. Salvia. In Kiev? Where?
Mr. Keating. Here. If you were in Kiev, are you registered
as a foreign agent? Yes or no?
Mr. Salvia. We don't represent----
Mr. Keating. Yes or no?
Mr. Salvia. No.
Mr. Keating. Do you have a 501(c)(3), since you are a
nonprofit? We couldn't find any.
Mr. Salvia. I believe it is a 501(c)(6).
Mr. Keating. You have that as a nonprofit?
Mr. Salvia. Yes.
Mr. Keating. Okay. Now, I want to talk to you about the
institute, too, because you mentioned you have other partners.
You have two principals, Mr. Jatras and Mr. Spinck, that are
also with the Global Strategic Communications Group, and they
are in management positions with that.
Now, this organization, along with the two principals I
mentioned, currently were registered lobbyists and/or
registered foreign agents. You have had those for clients, that
group. Is that correct? Yes or no?
Mr. Salvia. Agents for what group?
Mr. Keating. Global Strategic Communications Group, which
you and your principals you just mentioned. I want to find out
about that group.
Mr. Salvia. But you mentioned something specifically about
one of them was working for whom?
Mr. Keating. I want to know if that organization I just
mentioned, along with the two principals I mentioned, are
currently or were in the past registered lobbyists for foreign
agents and for other clients, including a former Prime Minister
of Ukraine, including the deputy, Russian Federation State Duma
and his party, and including Russian corporations.
Let me be more specific so I just get a yes or no from you.
In 2005, the Foreign Agents Registration Act had some
information, and it said that organization served as the PR arm
for Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry
Rogozin and his Rodina party. Further, there is another FARA
inclusion that declares that it is associating with members of
your organization with the now ousted President Yanukovych of
Ukraine. Is that correct, yes or no?
Mr. Salvia. Yes. One of the----
Mr. Keating. That is correct, yes.
Mr. Salvia. One of the members of the group was giving
advice to Yanukovych.
Mr. Keating. I just want the public to know. I am asking
the questions. I just wanted the public to know for
transparency reasons why your remarks, which were so
conspicuously absent Russian involvement, may have been absent
And I just want to go further, if I could, and just say
this. I want one more question as well.
The Kaalbye Shipping International, Kaalbye Shipping
International has been listed as a client of Global Strategic
Communication Group as well. Now, is that the same Kaalbye
Shipping International which was implicated in the illegal
transfer of Russian arms to Syria, Iran, Sudan, and other
countries of concern? Is that the same? Yes or no?
Mr. Salvia. Sir, I am not familiar with that whole thing. I
am just not familiar with it. Sorry, sir.
Mr. Keating. Well, perhaps I can enlighten.
I have some documents I would like placed in the record,
Mr. Chairman. If I have unanimous consent to place those
reinforcing documents in the record.
Mr. Rohrabacher. May I ask a clarification to your
question? Are you questioning him about the American Institute
in Ukraine or about another----
Mr. Keating. I am questioning, Mr. Chairman, about both.
Because this hearing should be transparent, unlike----
Mr. Rohrabacher. Okay. Excuse me. Excuse me. What was the
other organization you are asking about?
Mr. Keating. The other organization was the organization
that our witness said the principals were indeed involved with
that he mentioned, the same as the American Institution Group,
and that is the Global Strategic Communications Group.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Is he affiliated with that group?
Mr. Keating. Yes, he is. Let him answer.
Yes or no, sir?
Mr. Salvia. Well, I think the question was, did one of----
Mr. Keating. This is my time, by the way, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Sure.
Mr. Keating. Can I reclaim the time----
Mr. Rohrabacher. Yes, you may.
Mr. Keating [continuing]. That you interrupted me?
Mr. Rohrabacher. Yeah. Right.
Mr. Salvia. The question was, did one of the members of the
group have anything to do the former Prime Minister of the
Mr. Rohrabacher. No. Are you involved with that specific
organization that he is asking about?
Mr. Keating. Mr. Chairman, with all due respect, it is my
time to question. And I did question him, and he did indicate
So I just want the public to know, I want the world to know
that the comments you gave that conspicuously left out Russia
for any involvement and pointed the finger at Washington and at
the constitutionally elected Government of Ukraine, I want them
to know who you and who this organization is.
That is all I have to say. He answered my question, so I
yield back, Mr. Chairman.
Oh, Mr. Chairman, one other point of order.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Go right ahead.
Mr. Keating. Pending is my request, unanimous consent, to
make this reinforcing information part of the committee
Mr. Rohrabacher. Hearing no objection, whatever you would
like to put in the record.
Mr. Keating. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Are you a member of that organization? Are
you an employee or an actual member of the organization he was
Mr. Salvia. Not an employee. Not an employee of the
organization. But some of the guys in the group have----
Mr. Rohrabacher. No, no, I am talking about you, are you a
member of that organization?
Mr. Salvia. No.
Mr. Keating. Mr. Chairman, point of order. You interrupted
me. I have a document that I submitted where he is listed as
the director for the Global Strategic Communications Group.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Okay.
Mr. Salvia. Oh, I thought you were talking about this
Kaalbye--I am sorry, I thought you were talking about this
Kaalbye business or something.
Mr. Rohrabacher. The question is, are you a director of
Mr. Salvia. Global Strategic Communications Group does
consulting, public advocacy consulting on behalf of clients,
whatever they may be.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Okay. So are you a director?
Mr. Salvia. Yeah, I have to do with it, yes.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Okay. Thank you. That is important.
Let me just again note, however, that my ranking member,
while doing a very good job as, which is his profession, as a
prosecutor, let me just note that we didn't actually talk about
any specific areas of disagreement. And, quite frankly, I am
disappointed that instead of talking about ideas and
information to find out accuracy, that instead we sought to
attack the witness.
Mr. Keating. Mr. Chairman, if I may.
Mr. Rohrabacher. You may answer that.
Mr. Keating. Because it is point of personal privilege.
Thank you for your continued cooperation in our
relationship. And I am not disappointed in our relationship.
But I must tell you, if we have a witness who is testifying
that information and informing the public, we should know who
that witness is.
I yield back.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Yes. And you spent your time what we call
poisoning the well.
Mr. Keating. Mr. Chairman, I take point of personal
privilege with that.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Okay. Go right ahead.
Mr. Keating. What I did was, I think, uncover the cloud and
the shroud that this witness had in terms of a prejudice, and
the public should know that if we are to conduct the kind of
transparent hearing that this Congress and this country is
Mr. Rohrabacher. Yes, I think all things should be
transparent, and I think when we have hearings that we should
be focusing on ideas and information that can help us determine
what the reality is and find different avenues to find
solutions to the problems we face. And I think that no matter
what witness we have, we can find our time spending our time
trying to basically attack the witness or attack the ideas the
witness is expressing. And I am not saying that attacking the
witness' credibility is not a viable methodology of dealing
with political challenges like this. That is not the way I
handle myself. But I think that it is better to confront ideas
than it is to confront personalities.
Your honor, would you like to----
Mr. Poe. I suspect the chairman of the full committee ought
to be next. I will wait my turn.
Mr. Rohrabacher. So ordered.
Mr. Royce. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, Judge Poe.
One of the advantages of having a vibrant press is that you
get to watch on television things unfold not always as they
were planned. And we saw in Kharkiv, we saw in that town a
group of separatists who stormed the opera house, mistaking it
for city hall. Now, one of two possibilities here. One is that
people in the town are ambivalent about opera and civics and
know neither where the opera house is or city hall is. But I
think more likely, since the Russian camera crew was there
filming this and filmed the Russian tricolor being put up on
the opera house, and then one of the locals said, that is not
city hall, and then you got to see them take it back down, run
back across town, and you saw the so-called separatists in
their masks and such go up and actually put it on city hall
and, again, second take, for the Russian camera crew.
The reality here seems to be that you do have a lot of
foreign influence coming into the country, as reported to me
and Judge Poe when we were in Dnepropetrovsk, that is in the
business of putting up Russian flags and in the business of
bringing in a great deal of heavy weaponry, as General
Breedlove has shared with Congress.
So the question I have, at the end of the day, and I would
like each of the panelists to just give me their take, what do
you believe President Putin's goals are in Ukraine in all of
this? Because this takes a considerable expenditure of
resources from Russia in order to finance this kind of an
Ambassador Taylor. Mr. Chairman, I would say, I would be
interested in the fellow panelists, I would say Mr. Putin would
like to have instability in Ukraine so that it cannot pursue
the movement toward Europe, movement toward European
institutions, that its President, elected overwhelmingly, its
people in polls indicate that they would like to do. He would
like to cause that instability and is fomenting that
instability in Eastern Ukraine.
Mr. Royce. I would like to hear the take on every member on
Mr. Aron. If I may, could I read again from my testimony?
Mr. Royce. Sure, Dr. Aron, go ahead.
Mr. Aron. From the moment the regime of Viktor Yanukovich
was overthrown in Kiev in the end of February, Russia, that is
Vladimir Putin, has pursued three strategic goals. First, to
punish, humiliate, destabilize, if possible, dismember, and
ultimately derail a Europe-bound Ukraine. Second, to prevent
the West from imposing meaningful, biting sanctions. And third,
to continue to solidify Mr. Putin's domestic political base by
rallying it around the flag.
And I also noted that from my point of view, of somebody
who studies Russian politics, I think the third goal is the
most important one, because Putin's popularity, trust in him,
and most importantly the desire to see him as reelected as
President in 2018, by all objective public opinion polls were
at record lows at the end of 2013. Now all of those indicators
are at record high. That of course is not Russia's privileges.
Countries at war rally around the leader. And I think these
three goals will continue to motivate Putin.
And which is why, answering Mr. Chairman's call to reach
the settlement with Russia, I think we should be realistic
about what the goals are. And I think that settlement could be
reached, but that would require Vladimir Putin to change the
strategy. The problem with changing the strategy is that it is
so now intimately and centrally tied to the legitimacy and
popularity of his regime that it would be extremely hard for
him to change the course.
Mr. Royce. And for the remaining two speakers, I mean,
watching Russian television and watching this projection of
this image, they are beating you, they are beating ethnic
Russian speakers, right, that is the theme. But it is not just
the theme in Ukraine, it is the theme in the former Soviet
states. You see this broadcast into other states, in Central
Asia and in the Baltics and in Eastern Europe. So that is the
other part of my question. It is not just that this message is
directed in Ukraine, it is directed to Russian speakers who are
listening across the----
Mr. Aron. I think you are absolutely right. I had a
colleague returning recently from Kazakhstan.
Mr. Royce. Yes.
Mr. Aron. And as you know, northern Kazakhstan----
Mr. Royce. Right.
Mr. Aron [continuing]. Is essentially ethnic Russian. And
like Ukraine, Kazakhstan did not exist until the beginning of
the Soviet Union. So Putin could say, as he said in his fiery
speech following the annexation of Crimea on March 18th of this
year to the joint session of the Federal Assembly, which is the
Russian Parliament, he could say, well, there was no
Kazakhstan. Those were all Russian lands. He said that about
Mr. Royce. No. I followed that. But I also followed this
story out of Russia that the Ukrainians had supposedly
crucified a 3-year-old boy and drug his mother behind a tank.
This kind of rhetoric is designed to fire up ethnic Russians to
a point where they are thinking emotionally rather than
And it strikes me that because this is going on, not just
in Ukraine but elsewhere, it is very important we engage with
broadcasting some kind of surrogate--like we did with Radio
Free Europe/Radio Liberty in the day when we did it well, we
need something that just broadcasts in perspective, a wider
perspective on this. They are fueling a rage here which already
has led to the downing of one jetliner by having inexperienced
separatists who want to wage war, who shot down, I guess,
probably 14 planes by now. But that kind of anger that is being
generated is going to be a real problem for the region.
Mr. Salvia. On the question of what Putin would be seeking
in Ukraine, I think certainly he wants an agreement on
autonomy. In other words, let's put it this way, I think the
last thing he wants to do is introduce Russian forces into the
country. I think that would be a disaster for him. I think it
would be a costly, costly, costly, costly mistake, just in
terms of financing it. But politically it would be even more
horrendous in terms of poisoning his relationship with Europe,
I think in terms of poisoning his relations with Kiev, because
ultimately Russia has to have some kind of relationship with
Kiev, once all this blows over, when they get back to some kind
So I don't think he wants to do that. I think what he would
like to have is some kind of a negotiated thing--I think he has
indicated this--an agreement on autonomy, widespread autonomy
for the various regions of Ukraine, and things that would take
Ukraine out of the equation as some kind of a problem for
Russia. In other words, making non-NATO membership part of the
Constitution--neutrality or non-aligned status--things like
agreement on language rights, so that language rights are
Mr. Royce. But all of that would be done by Poroshenko
anyway. Poroshenko is in support of language rights, it is very
Mr. Salvia. Yes.
Mr. Royce. And certainly on the NATO issue as well.
But, anyway, my time has expired. And thank you.
Mr. Rohrabacher. And thank you for joining us, Mr.
Whereas there aren't any, with permission, we could go
straight to Judge Poe.
Mr. Poe. Thank the chairman.
Thank you, gentlemen, for being here.
I want to side my remarks first with the comments from Mr.
Keating. It is always good to know the background of witnesses
when you are asking witnesses questions to see if there is any
With that said, I would like to address the issues that I
talked about in my opening statement, the broader issue, not
just the airplane that was shot down, criminally, yes. Hold
those people accountable. But going back to what Dr. Aron has
said about the motives, the intent, rather, the intent of Putin
and the Russians, long-term intent. A statement was made that
Russians don't want to put troops in Ukraine because it is
expensive. They sure didn't have any trouble putting troops in
Georgia, and they are still there.
Mr. Brzezinski, what do you see as the longer-term goal of
Putin? I, too, believe that it is nationalistic. The Russians
like this invasion of Ukraine. What is it, 40, 50 percent of
them support the invasion or support the Russian movement?
Putin backs off a little, maybe negotiates with the West, does
that not look like weakness to the Russian people? I don't
know. I am asking your opinion on long-term goal.
I talked to Moldavian members of Parliament. They think
they are next. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but some
day. They think they are next. And of course Poland has always
got the problem with the Russians.
Are these fears of Latvia and some of these other countries
that they have expressed to Members of Congress, it is not real
fears, or is there some substance to Putin's long-term goal,
which I think is to make the Russian empire bigger? Would you
weigh in on that, please?
Mr. Brzezinski. Yes, sir, Chairman Poe.
First, I would point out that the Russians are not just in
Georgia, they are in Ukraine. There are 20,000 to 30,000
Russian troops occupying Crimea. Russian special forces are
leading and fighting in Eastern Ukraine. Russian political
operatives are the head of the separatist republics in Russia.
So Russia is in Ukraine militarily and illegitimately in
What is President Putin's goal? President Putin's goal is
essentially a revanchist vision. He wants to reestablish
Russian greatness. And he finds that greatness----
Mr. Poe. Sort of like the czar.
Mr. Brzezinski. Sort of like the czar. Like Czar Peter.
Mr. Poe. Czar Vladimir, Czar Vladimir Putin.
Mr. Brzezinski. His vision is to recreate Russian influence
over the sphere of the former Soviet Union, including the
Warsaw Pact, for that matter. And what is particularly
dangerous about that vision is he is reintroducing into Europe
the principle of ethnic sovereignty. That he, that Russia, has
a unilateral right to go in and redraw borders simply because
there are ethnic Russians living across those borders. That is
incredibly dangerous, that principle.
Mr. Poe. That is his so-called legal justification for
invading his neighbors. Would you say that is right?
Mr. Brzezinski. That is correct.
Mr. Poe. He is not really going to promote humanitarian
goals in Eastern Ukraine, he is going over there to take back
Ukraine and make it part of Russia. I mean, is that
Mr. Brzezinski. I think that is pretty accurate. I would
put his priorities first in terms specifically with Ukraine is
to subordinate Ukraine.
Mr. Poe. Long term, I have just a few minutes left, long
term what do you see?
Mr. Brzezinski. Subordinate Ukraine under Russian
influence. If he can't do that, keep Ukraine unstable,
destabilized, so it can't go to the West and in a minimum carve
up parts of Ukraine that are strategically important to him,
including Eastern Ukraine and Southern Ukraine.
Mr. Poe. Mr. Taylor, weigh in on the same question. Long
term, what do you see Putin's goals are?
Ambassador Taylor. Mr. Chairman, I don't think he is that
strategic of a thinker. I think he is an opportunist. He saw an
opportunity to go into Crimea and he did. He could do it and he
did. He did it easily, quietly, illegally, totally illegally. I
don't think it is a legal rationale that he is trying to
establish about protecting Russians. That is not legal. Indeed,
that led to World War I when the Serbians tried to indicate----
Mr. Poe. I am not saying he is right. He is trying to
justify it to the world.
Ambassador Taylor. He is trying to justify it, but it is
not a legal justification. He may be trying make that case.
So in answer to your question, Mr. Chairman, I don't know
what his long-term goals are. I am not sure he does. I think he
is taking advantage of weakness. He is taking advantage of the
fact that, so far, the West has not confronted him, and he is
going to move until we confront him.
Mr. Poe. Dr. Aron, long-term goals. I appreciate your three
bullet points, but what do you see down the road?
Mr. Aron. Well, even a longer-term, wider context. A year
ago I published an article in Foreign Affairs called ``The
Putin Doctrine.'' And I think it is very simple. It is to
recover geostrategic, economic, political, and cultural assets
lost in the fall of the Soviet Union.
In other words, he does not want to recreate the Soviet
Union. It is silly, it is costly, it is risky. But he wants to
recreate or take control of the assets inside the country. He
already did. Over politics. Over the key aspects of the
economy, oil and gas. Over culture.
And in the broader sense, I think, in the territory of the
former Soviet Union, is to establish Russia as being in
control, not just hegemonic power, but in control of the former
Soviet states. That does not involve occupation of every former
Soviet state. It involves, as Ian pointed out, it involves
keeping those states' foreign policies, and sometimes even
domestic policies, bound to approval or disapproval from
Mr. Poe. Let me interrupt there, since I am out of time.
Mr. Aron. I am done. Thank you.
Mr. Poe. So he would use a bigger approach than just
militarily. He could use economic approach, like he is using in
Eastern Europe and part of Western Europe with the monopoly of
Gazprom, for example, because there is no competition. He can
shut off the gas in Ukraine, which he has done, and I was there
when he did it in the winter, and it was cold and it was dark.
So that opportunity, United States, Western powers who
think that this aggression should be stopped, maybe we should
have some responses economically, as well as helping out
Ukrainians militarily with helping them solve their own
security crisis. Would you agree with that or not?
Mr. Aron. In connection with economic measures, and also
apparently there are going to be some serious sanctions rolled
out, a word of caution. Precisely because, as I said in my
testimony, war in Ukraine is a domestic Russian political
issue. It has become one. It is at the center of this regime.
It is responsible for a great deal of legitimacy and
popularity. Don't expect sanctions to work quickly.
In fact, in the short term, I think they are going to cause
Putin doubling down, if I know the man correctly, doubling down
in Ukraine, rallying around the flag, his popularity even going
higher. Long term, medium term, probably, probably they will
force him to make choices. But don't oversell economic
sanctions for now.
Mr. Poe. I yield back.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you very much, Your Honor.
Next we have Representative Duncan.
Mr. Duncan. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thanks for having this
As I sat here and listened to the testimony and the
questioning, I have to ask, what is the correct level of
outrage from the free world to this tragedy? And have we seen
it? We see global protest over Israel defending its right to
exist and its self-defense, but we don't see global outrage
over the use of a weapon of war to shoot down a commercial
And think about this: 300, plus or minus, passengers lost
their lives, basically one-third of the total lives lost in
Gaza, where is the world outrage? This is rhetorical, but what
is the appropriate response from the free world? And what is,
we will just say, the historic leader of the free world, what
is the appropriate response to this egregious act of aggression
which cost the lives, truly innocent lives on a commercial
This act was committed with a very sophisticated weapon. If
they could hold this sign back up real quick. This was an SA-11
missile, a weapon of war, and a sophisticated launcher. This
isn't Charlie Wilson's war with Afghanis running up with
shoulder-fired stingers, fire-and-forget missiles. This has
sophisticated radar. It takes sophisticated training in order
to operate it. This wasn't some rebel that just happened to
seize a weapon on the battlefield and use to it shoot down an
airliner. I believe it took a little bit more than that. I
believe Russia was involved in some way. This isn't a fire-and-
And so I have to ask Mr. Brzezinski, is it likely that
Russia would ever let such powerful weapons as this SA-11 out
of its full control?
Mr. Brzezinski. I think it is pretty clear it did. I mean,
all reports indicate that Russia did transfer SA-11s to the
separatists. I think it is an incredibly irresponsible act. Not
only did a system like that put innocent airliners at risk, but
it probably put Russians forces at risk. So I am stunned, but
it is clear he did it.
Mr. Duncan. I am, too. I really am stunned that they didn't
verify the target before they pulled the trigger. But that is
sort of a debatable issue.
Doesn't that support the notion that Russia must have been
aware what it was being used for?
Mr. Brzezinski. It is not clear exactly what the command-
and-control arrangements were over those systems. But what is
clear is that the transfer of the SA-11s was part and parcel of
a broader effort by the Russians to intensify their support to
the separatists. After each set of sanctions there has been an
incremental increase in kind of material support and personnel
support Russia has provided the separatists. It really
intensified in the last couple of weeks where we have seen
columns of APCs, mortars, and tanks cross the Russian-Ukrainian
border into the separatists.
And I think the Russians are being driven to do this in
part because they see the separatists failing. So what they are
trying do right now is desperately consolidate the territory
the separatists have so they can lock this into a frozen
conflict. And that would, one, perpetuate their ability to keep
Ukraine destabilized. And if Ukraine is unstable, it is not
going to be able to push its way forward into Europe.
Mr. Duncan. So let me ask you this. What is the correct
response? How should the Western world, the free world respond
to this egregious act?
Mr. Brzezinski. We have to act, we have to respond with
resolve and determination. A long time ago, we should have been
imposing sectoral sanctions on Russia, body slamming the
Russian economy, hitting its financial and energy sectors in
particular. That hasn't been done. We have had incremental
sanctions, we have had hesitancy. Our military actions have
been symbolic at best--a company in Poland, a company in the
Baltics, a few planes here.
The Russians mobilized over 100,000 people on the western
military district, the western frontier, so to speak, when they
began their invasion of Ukraine. That is how serious they were.
The West hasn't responded that way, and the result has been
Putin has been continuously emboldened in his effort to
subordinate and carve up Ukraine.
Mr. Duncan. I visited Europe. I met with the Europeans last
year. They have been concerned for well over a year at their
reliance on Russian gas. Ukraine is definitely concerned about
its reliance on gas.
Can't this administration and this government and the
Western world with the expedition of LNG terminals and the
export of natural gas, which we have an abundance of, not send
the right economic signal that Europe is going to lessen its
dependence on a foreign source of energy, Ukraine is going to
end its dependence on a foreign source of energy, other than
the United States? Wouldn't that send the right signal?
Mr. Brzezinski. Yes, sir. Two points. One, LNG would be an
important long-term effort to help Ukraine and for that matter
Central Europe wean itself from its dependency upon Russian gas
exports. In the near term it would be a strong political signal
and it would create momentum that would kind of facilitate
investment to build the necessary infrastructure for that.
The second point I would make is what amazes me about the
West's response economically to this invasion in the Ukraine is
the weakness of that response in light of the power balance
between the West and Russia. The EU is a $12-trillion economy.
It has got a $12-trillion annual GDP. It is globally
integrated. It gets approximately 30 percent of its imported
gas, not total use of gas, but imported gas from Russia.
Russia is a $2-trillion gas station. It has only got one
customer, the EU. It is dependent upon primarily the EU for
foreign investment. The EU is also backed by a $16-trillion
U.S. economy. So it is amazing how a $2-trillion gas station
that is on weak legs can bully around the West, which has well
over 6 times its economic magnitude.
I can only explain that by strategic shortsightedness,
moral fecklessness, to allow a major European country to be
walked over, invaded by Russia, and corporate greed.
Mr. Duncan. Well, thank you for that.
Chairman Poe, I am sorry that you were cold in Ukraine, but
we cold take care of that by exporting gas from the United
States to friends and allies around the world who want U.S. gas
and lessen their dependence on Russia. And so you are spot on.
The energy economics and energy politics play into this. And I
think it is the right thing to do.
Mr. Poe. I agree with you. Amen.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you very much.
Mr. Duncan. I yield back.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Now I would like to turn to Brad Sherman.
Mr. Sherman. I have a question, but it would also apply to
some of my colleagues from gas- and oil-producing States. But I
will direct it to Mr. Brzezinski.
Okay. We pay about $4 or $5 a unit for natural gas here.
They pay $10 in Europe. And liquefied natural gas is sold in
Asia for $15. I don't know if any of my colleagues from oil-
producing States can explain which companies headquartered in
their districts want to sell the gas for $10 in Europe and
forgo the $15 they can get in Asia.
But the question for the witness is, do you sense that the
American taxpayer, or the German taxpayer, or the German
consumer wants to pay that additional $5?
Mr. Brzezinski. For gas from the United States, sir?
Mr. Sherman. Yes.
Mr. Brzezinski. Probably not. But my sense is that LNG
exports by the United States would be uninhibited, would
probably flow mostly to Asia. There is no question about that.
But the LNG market is increasingly globalized. That flow of
U.S. LNG into Asia pushes excess, other LNG from other sources,
over to Europe. And, in fact, it has already been the case to a
Mr. Sherman. Again, the world price is $15 for liquefied
natural gas. It is $10 for Russian piped natural gas. Who is
going to pay the extra $5?
Mr. Brzezinski. They will always go to the cheaper gas. But
the benefits, the geopolitical benefits, geoeconomic benefits
of uninhibited U.S.----
Mr. Sherman. Who pays? Are the Germans lining up to say,
damn it, we want to pay Japanese prices rather than Russian
prices, to pay the same price as Japan for liquefied natural
gas? They could get liquefied natural gas from Qatar and other
Arab states and they don't take a single cubic foot of it
because it costs 50 percent more than the Russian natural gas.
So if the German Government and the German people don't
want to pay the extra money, are you suggesting that the United
States taxpayer pay the difference?
Mr. Brzezinski. No.
Mr. Sherman. Okay.
Let me go on to another series of questions. Okay.
Rebels had SA-11s or similar technology. They shot down the
plane. They thought they were shooting down a Ukrainian plane.
It seems to be viewed as almost cut and dry that they must have
gotten the SA-11s as a gift from Moscow. But much of their
other weaponry they have seized on the battlefield or just kind
of walked into at military bases and taken equipment owned by
the Ukrainian Government.
So did the Ukrainian Government have SA-11s or similar
technology capable of, even if it had to be a lucky shot, but
capable of perhaps hitting a plane at 33,000 square feet? Does
the Ukraine have that technology? Mr. Taylor?
Ambassador Taylor. Certainly, they have that technology.
But they were nowhere near the area.
Mr. Sherman. No. Well, are we certain that none of that
technology fell into rebel hands at any time during this
conflict, including knowing that the prior government of the
Ukraine was pro-Russian and had most of its support on the same
areas where the separatists enjoy support?
Ambassador Taylor. Mr. Sherman, I think it is very clear
that the separatists fired the weapon.
Mr. Sherman. That is not my question.
Ambassador Taylor. Where it came from is your question. And
I don't think we know precisely which piece actually came from
Mr. Sherman. But are you certain that not a----
Ambassador Taylor. What we have seen has come across the
Mr. Sherman. Some came across the border. Were others taken
from the Ukrainian Government? Do we have a full accounting
from the Ukrainian Government, hey, at separation of the Soviet
Union, we had so many SA-11 systems, we acquired so many
systems, we can account for all of those systems? Or are we
just kind of taking it out of anger that you have these systems
both in the Ukraine and in Russia, and it must have been the
Russian systems that the separatists got their hand on?
Mr. Salvia. I am afraid I just don't know the answer to
Mr. Sherman. Okay. My time has expired. Thank you.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Well, I want to thank our witnesses today.
What we will have now is just a summary from the chairmen and
ranking members of the committees of jurisdiction. And we will
start with Judge Poe.
Mr. Poe. I thank the chairman.
Thanks again, gentlemen, for being here.
It just seems to me that this whole operation in Ukraine
and other places is driven by Putin. He is doing it, as you
have stated, to help himself politically back home. It does
sell. It does raise the Russian flag at home. And his quest for
aggression--aggression, I think that is the best way to call
this activity--he wants influence back in areas that belonged
to the Soviet Union. But his motive goes back further. I think
it goes back to the days of the czar. That is the way I see
The U.S., West response has been weak, and it is shown
because it hasn't stopped the aggression. The United States,
along with the West, freedom-loving folks, need to impose
sanctions that actually work. And we also should, I think, help
the Ukrainians defend their own country.
I do believe that we should open up markets and give
Western Europe, Eastern Europe alternatives to natural gas. In
answer to the ranking member's question, yes, there is a
specific company in Houston, Texas, Accelerated Energy, that
wants to sell natural gas to the Ukrainians and will be able to
do that within a year if they could get permission to do so.
We are flaring off natural gas in Texas and in the Dakotas
to the amount of 1 million homes losing energy because we have
so much natural gas. It is a world market. But they want the
opportunity to sell more natural gas on the world market. But I
think that it is part of the long-range strategy to buttress
the aggression, not just with helping Ukraine militarily, but
helping alternatives economically, including those economic.
Putin has not been stopped. I don't know that he will be
stopped unless we actually want some answers and some results
from the aggression. I think his plan is long term. But
opportunities, when they arise, he will take advantage of
those. So that is the way I see it.
I will yield back to the chairman of the European
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you very much.
And, Mr. Sherman, do you have a summary that you would like
Mr. Sherman. As to the export of natural gas, the major
reason, the major obstacle is the enormous economic cost of
liquefying, transporting, and then regasifying the gas. There
is a lot of natural gas in the Arab world. The Arabs will sell
it for the highest price. They are driven by the exact same
capitalist calculations as American oil companies. They sell it
all to Asia and none to Europe.
As to the fact that you need permission to export natural
gas, you don't need permission to export it to any country that
has a free trade treatment with the United States, including
South Korea. And in addition, the administration has licensed
some export projects as being in the interests of the United
I do not think that those who liquefy natural gas want to
charge less than $15 a unit for it. And I don't think there is
anybody in Europe, EU or otherwise, that wants to pay more than
the Russian price, which is basically $10.
Looking at the Middle East as an analogy, we are urging
Maliki to make the best possible offer to the Sunnis, even
though you could probably argue that 51 percent of the Iraqi
people would, if they had their druthers, give the Sunnis
We need to urge Kiev to make the best possible offer to
those who want autonomy. And that includes protection of the
Russian language, that includes electing the governors of the
oblasts, that includes local budgetary control, it includes the
other elements that are part of the reasonable, nonseparatist
political parties that are seeking autonomy for the various
regions. And it is not enough to make vague statements, we need
And I yield back.
Mr. Rohrabacher. And Mr. Keating.
Mr. Keating. Mr. Chairman, I think it is clear that this
hearing has made a couple of major points, one of them being
that this issue is not discrete to Ukraine. This is indeed an
issue of high prominence to all of Europe in the future, and
that includes efforts to establish rule of law, that includes
efforts for economic growth and democracy.
And it is also clear, I think, that much of Russia's
aggression isn't quite as strategic in a long-term sense as it
is reactionary. And one of the things that bears watching is
what signals the European countries and the U.S. are giving
back, because I think that will determine what actions Russia
takes in the future as well.
And along those lines, I think we also understand the
importance of our economic progress together. And by that, even
though it wasn't mentioned today, I look at enhancement of the
TTIP agreement, the free trade agreement with Europe as a very
important object that we should continue to work forward with,
because it is within that economic strength that we will be
able to stabilize and move Europe forward. And that is our best
way of countering these kind of senseless acts of aggression.
Yield back, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Well, thank you very much.
Well, I think this was a very worthwhile hearing. I am
sorry that we didn't actually get more specific suggestions,
although I think that we have looked, taken a look at the
situation a little closer than has been looked at in the last
month or two as this crisis seems to be getting worse and
Let me just note, historically I have spent most of my life
fighting communism and fighting the Soviet Union. And let me
just note, same is true of Mr. Salvia, who was the executive
assistant to the president for Radio Free Europe and Radio
Liberty between 1988 and 1993.
I always think it is best to go specifically at the issues
at hand, but people do have a right, and the ranking member
certainly has a right to question the validity of witnesses.
But I found you a very credible witness, and know of your
background and the things you have done to help defeat
communism during my time with the Reagan administration and
before and after.
Let me note that there seem to be some people in the United
States who are hellbent to reignite the Cold War. I mean, they
feel more comfortable with trying to go at Russia. After the
Soviet Union fell, there was a tremendous potential to making
Russia our friend. A tremendous potential. They withdrew their
troops from Eastern Europe, the Russians were open to all kinds
of interacting and becoming part of the world community. And a
tremendous opportunity was squandered.
Over the years there have been people, and I believe that,
unfortunately, it has a lot to do with the political forces in
our country that were pandering to the people who had a grudge
against Russia. And I am talking about there is obviously a
justified grudge that the people of Eastern Europe have had
against Russia because under communism Russia committed so many
crimes against those people, whether it be the Poles, the
Czechs, the Bulgarians, or the Ukrainians in particular. We
know the millions of people who lost their lives during the
1900s because the Russians came in with their communism, and
millions of people died horrible deaths, Ukrainian people. And
so we understand that there is a grudge out there blaming the
Russian people for communism. That is understandable.
But our job when the Soviet Union collapsed and people
turned to become Russia, a democratic Russia, I think it was
our job to try to not pay attention to those grudge and pander
to those people who wanted to get even, but instead to try to
build a new world.
And I don't think we did. I think we decided that there
would be allies made politically, locally, where my Polish
friends, my Ukrainian friends who can't understand why I would
want to make peace with Russia now, even after I spent my whole
life fighting them.
I think we lost a great opportunity there. And maybe it is
not lost. But we have turned what was a potentially good friend
into an adversary. And there is no other way to look at Russia
now. They are an adversary. And what I am afraid of is now we
are going to turn an adversary into an enemy, and we don't want
that. I don't want that. I hope the American people, I don't
think they do either.
I would hope that the testimony at the hearing today has at
least motivated some people to reach out to each other. I would
hope that the points about making the best possible offer by
the Government of Ukraine, should be making the best possible
offer to the separatists to try to find a way to end that
violence, and that we should be supporting that type of
And I would hope that after this hearing today that we try
to take a look at what is going on with honesty and with a goal
of creating a more peaceful region of that part of the world
and thus a more peaceful world, rather than a belligerent
approach to this, what is going on, that will end up creating a
wholesale enemy out of the Russian people when right now we can
possibly work with them to create some peace and offer some
honest working together and cooperation toward that goal.
So with that said, I want to thank the witnesses. Thank you
all very much. And thank my ranking member for a spirited, a
very spirited time period here. Thank you all. And this hearing
is now adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 12:16 p.m., the subcommittees were
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Record
Material submitted for the record by the Honorable William Keating, a
Representative in Congress from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts