[House Hearing, 114 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
UKRAINE UNDER SIEGE
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FOURTEENTH CONGRESS
MARCH 4, 2015
Serial No. 114-21
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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 BRAD SHERMAN, California
DANA ROHRABACHER, California GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio ALBIO SIRES, New Jersey
JOE WILSON, South Carolina GERALD E. CONNOLLY, Virginia
MICHAEL T. McCAUL, Texas THEODORE E. DEUTCH, Florida
TED POE, Texas BRIAN HIGGINS, New York
MATT SALMON, Arizona KAREN BASS, California
DARRELL E. ISSA, California WILLIAM KEATING, Massachusetts
TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania DAVID CICILLINE, Rhode Island
JEFF DUNCAN, South Carolina ALAN GRAYSON, Florida
MO BROOKS, Alabama AMI BERA, California
PAUL COOK, California ALAN S. LOWENTHAL, California
RANDY K. WEBER SR., Texas GRACE MENG, New York
SCOTT PERRY, Pennsylvania LOIS FRANKEL, Florida
RON DeSANTIS, Florida TULSI GABBARD, Hawaii
MARK MEADOWS, North Carolina JOAQUIN CASTRO, Texas
TED S. YOHO, Florida ROBIN L. KELLY, Illinois
CURT CLAWSON, Florida BRENDAN F. BOYLE, Pennsylvania
SCOTT DesJARLAIS, Tennessee
REID J. RIBBLE, Wisconsin
DAVID A. TROTT, Michigan
LEE M. ZELDIN, New York
TOM EMMER, Minnesota
Amy Porter, Chief of Staff Thomas Sheehy, Staff Director
Jason Steinbaum, Democratic Staff Director
C O N T E N T S
The Honorable Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of
European and Eurasian Affairs, U.S. Department of State........ 5
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
The Honorable Victoria Nuland: Prepared statement................ 9
Hearing notice................................................... 44
Hearing minutes.................................................. 45
The Honorable Edward R. Royce, a Representative in Congress from
the State of California, and chairman, Committee on Foreign
Affairs: Statement by Ambassador of Ukraine Olexander Motsyk... 47
The Honorable Gerald E. Connolly, a Representative in Congress
from the Commonwealth of Virginia: Prepared statement.......... 49
UKRAINE UNDER SIEGE
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4, 2015
House of Representatives,
Committee on Foreign Affairs,
The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10 o'clock a.m.,
in room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Edward Royce
(chairman of the committee) presiding.
Chairman Royce. Ambassador Nuland, welcome.
This hearing will come to order, and our topic today is
``Ukraine Under Siege.'' And Ukraine is under siege by Russia
at this moment, and unfortunately, the response to Russia's
aggression by the administration has been quite tepid.
A year ago, Russia invaded and seized Crimea, and some
thought that Vladimir Putin would stop there. Not so. And last
April, Ranking Member Eliot Engel and I led a delegation to
Ukraine. We traveled to the Russian speaking-east. I think we
had eight members on that delegation. We went into
Dnepropetrovsk, which is bordering Luhansk and Donetsk.
And I have to share with the members here that the many
Ukrainians that--and these are Russian speaking Ukrainians in
the far east that Mr. Engel and I met with, wanted to be
Ukrainians. They did not want to be separatists.
We spoke to the women's groups there, to the lawyers'
groups, civil society, the Jewish group, various ethnic
minorities, the governor, the mayor. At Passover, Mr. Engel
spoke at the largest Jewish community center in Eastern Europe,
the largest synagogue.
And I can just share with the members here what--I'll
attest to the attitude was--one of the thoughts shared with us
is it seems that Russia has recruited every skinhead and every
malcontent in the Russian speaking world and are trying to
bring them into the east. And they said we are holding them in
a brig here until hostilities are over, because we can spot
them, but they are coming in from Russia in order to try to
overthrow our Government.
And so we have seen this situation where Moscow moved from
annexing Crimea to aggressively supporting militant separatists
in eastern Ukraine and indeed bringing Russian troops into the
country. And Russia may now try to secure a land bridge to
Crimea. That is the great concern here. That was the worry we
heard that they would further expand this conflict; that they
might try to seize the strategic port of Mariupol.
Now when we talked to the U.N. agencies on the ground, they
count over 6,000 civilians who have been killed in this
conflict. There are 1.7 million Ukrainians that have now been
made refugees. To date, the actions taken by the U.S. and our
EU allies, including economic sanctions and aid and diplomatic
isolation, have not checked Putin. Indeed over the past year he
has become bolder, even menacing NATO countries as he seeks to
divide the alliance.
The Obama administration and our European allies have put
hope in diplomatic and ceasefire arrangements, but it is not
working. Last week, I met with the First Deputy Speaker of the
Ukrainian Parliament who said that his country urgently needs
anti-tank weapons such as the Javelin. He needs radar to
pinpoint enemy fire in order to do the counter-battery work to
suppress that artillery, and he needs communications equipment
to overcome Russian jamming.
Ukrainian forces cannot match the advanced equipment that
Russia is pouring into eastern Ukraine. And by the way, when
you see tanks come into eastern Ukraine those are not
Ukrainians in those tanks. Those are Russians. There is no
shortage of the will to fight, only a shortage of defensive
But at the committee's hearing last week, Secretary Kerry
said that President Obama has still not made a decision on
whether to send defensive lethal military aid to Ukraine. Six
months after President Poroshenko told a joint session of
Congress in his words, ``One cannot win the war with
blankets,'' it was not surprising, but still discouraging, to
see him have to shop for defensive weapons, and unfortunately
it has been very, very difficult for Ukraine to find any
And I was just as discouraged to read in this weekend's
Wall Street Journal that U.S. intelligence sharing with Ukraine
keeps Ukraine in the dark. Satellite images are delayed and
obscured making them less useful. Frustrated, Ukraine is
approaching other countries like Canada to share such
information. This isn't U.S. leadership. Moscow is also
undermining Ukraine's economy. Today Russia is using its
natural gas and other energy sources for political coercion and
to generate economic chaos in the country.
Ukraine is facing an economic precipice. It desperately
needs help. Meanwhile, Russia is winning the battle on the
airwaves and they are doing it by broadcasting out conspiracy
theories and propaganda. Anyone who has monitored what has been
up on the air is well aware that this propaganda is offensive,
is aimed at sowing confusion and undermining opposition to its
aggression in Ukraine and elsewhere.
But we are barely in the game of countering this with the
facts. As I told the Secretary last week, I would like to see
more administration support for the effort Mr. Engel and I have
undertaken to reform our international broadcasting. The
Broadcasting Board of Governors is broken. If we can't begin to
change minds, then the struggle over Ukraine today will become
a generational struggle for the future of Eastern Europe.
Ukraine's fate has security implications for well beyond its
Now we passed this bill into the Senate last year. We were
not able to bring it up and get it out of the Senate. We did
not have the administration's support for it. But we have
vetted this and have a great deal of support in this
institution for getting back up on the air with Radio Free
Europe, Radio Liberty type broadcasting that we did years ago
to great effect with a message that will get the truth
effectively into Eastern Europe and into Russia. It is time for
strong and unwavering support of Ukraine. It is time for this
right now, and many of these committee members on this
committee, I believe, are concerned U.S. policy toward Ukraine
may soon become, ``too little, too late.''
And I now turn to the ranking member for opening remarks
that Mr. Engel of New York might wish to make.
Mr. Engel. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and thank you
for calling this very timely and important hearing. At the
outset I want to acknowledge the Ukrainian Days participants
who are in the audience today.
And Ambassador Nuland, welcome back. We thank you for
testifying today. We thank you for your decades of service. And
on a personal basis, let me also say that I have had to
pleasure of working with you and I am a fan of your hard work,
knowledge and tenacity. Thank you for all you do.
In Ukraine, the events of the past year and the ongoing
Russian aggression threatens the security and stability of the
entire region and undermines decades of American commitment to
and investment in a Europe that is whole, free and at peace. In
fact this is a threat to the whole international order.
So today we face grave questions. What can and should be
done, and who should contribute to solving this problem? The
United States is providing substantial assistance to the
Government of Ukraine including billions of dollars in loan
guarantees and non-lethal military aid. We have also imposed
significant sanctions on Russia. We have sanctioned officials
supporting Russia's aggression in Ukraine and targeted key
sectors of the Russian economy. And we have seen results.
Russia's economy has been taking on water, and this has only
been magnified by the recent dip in oil prices.
These policies are good, but only up to a point. They don't
go far enough, in my opinion. Russia's military gains in
Ukraine have slowed, but Putin continues to grab land along the
line of contact in violation of the Minsk ceasefire agreement,
which mandates that Russian supported rebels pull back their
The government in Kyiv is committed to reform, but leaders
there struggle every day to preserve Ukrainian sovereignty. And
while our financial assistance has kept Ukraine's economy
afloat, they still confront a bleak economic outlook and the
risks of a financial meltdown loom large.
Now when Ukraine gave up its nuclear arsenal in 1994, the
United States made a commitment to help protect Ukrainian
territorial integrity. That commitment was also made by Russia,
U.K., China, other countries as well, but now our commitment is
being tested. Let me also say that I think NATO made a grave
mistake in 2008 when it refused to admit Ukraine and Georgia
into NATO. I know that Germany and France resisted. The United
States tried to push it. I didn't work. And I think we are
paying the price today. I don't think that Putin would have
been as aggressive if Ukraine was a part of NATO.
So last month I met with President Poroshenko. Met with him
in Europe. His request was simple. Provide Ukraine with key
weapons and military technology to defend itself. Specifically,
Ukraine needs light anti-tank missiles to protect itself
against rebels attacking with heavy, Russian supplied armor,
not to evict the thousands of Russian troops inside Ukrainian
borders. Ukraine needs longer range counter-battery radars to
pinpoint attacking artillery and tanks, not to win a protracted
war against Russia's military. And Ukraine needs better
communications technology to deal with Russian efforts to jam
their signals, not to advance on Moscow.
I was laughing when at that conference in Munich, Madam
Secretary, you and I both attended, to hear the Russian Foreign
Minister denying that Russian troops were in Ukraine, saying it
was just Ukrainian rebels. Lies, lies and more lies.
I have spoken on the House floor calling on our Government
to supply defensive weapons to Ukraine.
So Mr. Chairman, and I know you agree with me, Ukraine is
not going to win a war against Russia, but it can impose a
greater cost on Vladimir Putin's aggression and slow Russia's
advances. And it has a chance to remain on its feet when all is
said and done if it can impose a greater cost on Putin's
aggression and slow Russia's advances.
Yet for nearly a year, the administration along with the
vast majority of our European allies has resisted providing
such assistance. Now to be sure, there are risks involved but
there are also risks in allowing Putin to continue his
aggression in Ukraine and to threaten other peaceful neighbors
on Russia's periphery. And if Russia's aggressive pressure on
the West reach the frontiers of our NATO allies, the dangers to
Europe increase tremendously; the dangers to the NATO alliance
In December, Congress unanimously passed the Ukraine
Freedom Support Act. This legislation authorized the provision
of lethal defensive aid. I was proud to lead House efforts to
pass this legislation and happy that President Obama signed it.
But I have been disappointed that the administration has not
used any of the tools provided in this law.
It is time to ask the hard question. Are we willing to
stand up to Vladimir Putin's aggression before he kills more
people, does more economic damage, further destabilizes Europe
and threatens our NATO allies? Or are the risks just so great
that we will simply cut our losses? As time passes, our options
grow fewer and less effective. That is why I am announcing
today my plan to introduce new legislation. It will offer
Ukraine greater assistance on a variety of fronts. It will dial
up the pressure on Vladimir Putin for his reckless, destructive
and destabilizing policies, and it will send a clear message
that the United States stands with the people of Ukraine
against Russian aggression. I look forward to working with
Chairman Royce and other colleagues as we move ahead with this
And finally, let me just add that our European allies need
to confront these same questions of strategy and political
will. In my view, wealthy countries such as Germany, France and
others have a lot more skin in the game economically and
strategically. They should be doing more to assist Ukraine on
the economic front as they seem even less willing than we are
to provide needed military assistance. They should double down,
dig deep, and ensure Ukraine does not endure a financial
meltdown. This would be a win-win, keeping Ukraine solvent and
preventing an even greater catastrophe on the EU's borders. The
people of Ukraine are watching, the government in Kyiv is
watching, and the whole world is watching. We cannot sit idly
by and allow Putin to continue his aggression.
So again Ambassador Nuland, thank you for appearing here
today and I look forward to your testimony.
Chairman Royce. So this morning we are very pleased to be
joined by Ambassador Victoria Nuland. And before assuming her
position as Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of European and
Eurasian Affairs with the Department of State, Ambassador
Nuland served as the Department of State's spokesperson. She
also served as the United States Permanent Representative to
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization from 2005 to 2008, and
she focused heavily on NATO-Russia issues during that period of
And without objection, the witness's full prepared
statement is going to be made part of the record. Members will
have 5 calendar days to submit any statements to the committee,
any questions and extraneous materials for the record which we
will ask the Ambassador to respond to in writing.
So we would ask, Ambassador, if you would please summarize
your remarks and then we will go to questions.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE VICTORIA NULAND, ASSISTANT
SECRETARY, BUREAU OF EUROPEAN AND EURASIAN AFFAIRS, U.S.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Ambassador Nuland. Thank you very much, Chairman Royce,
Ranking Member Engel, members of this committee, for having me
back today to speak about the situation in Ukraine and for your
personal investment in that country's future.
Let me also take this opportunity to say that we share this
committee's sadness and outrage over the murder of freedom
fighter and Russian patriot and friend to many of us, Boris
Nemtsov. The outpouring of concern from Congress again
demonstrates bipartisan U.S. respect for those in Russia and
across the region who are working for reform, clean government,
justice and dignity.
Today Ukraine is central to our 25-year effort for a ``Europe
whole, free and at peace.'' With your permission, I
would like to focus on three areas in particular today. First,
on the hard work that Ukraine is doing with U.S. and
international support to build a more democratic, independent
and European country.
Second, I will address both the opportunity that Russia has
to implement the February and September Minsk agreements as
well as the further costs that the United States and our
European allies will have to impose if Minsk is further
violated. And finally, I will touch very briefly on three other
new threats to European security that we are working on--energy
vulnerability, corruption and propaganda, as noted by the
chairman--that the Ukraine conflict also brings into high
relief and all we are doing on them.
First, a quick reminder of why we are here. Fourteen months
ago, the Kyiv Maidan and towns across Ukraine erupted in
peaceful protest by ordinary Ukrainians who were fed up with
the sleazy, corrupt regime that was bent on cheating its people
of their democratic choice for a more European future. They
braved frigid temperatures, brutal beatings and sniper bullets.
Ultimately the leader of that rotten regime fled the country,
and then he was voted out by the Parliament including most
members of his own party. And then Ukraine began to forge a new
nation on its own terms.
I want to take a small opportunity here to highlight the
very hard work that your counterparts in the new Ukrainian Rada
have undertaken just since they were seated in November. The
Rada has been a beehive of activity, passing laws to tackle
corruption in the public and private sector; to reduce
government inefficiency; to strengthen the banking system; to
clean up the energy sector; to establish a new police service;
to improve the climate for business and attract new investment.
It has also been moving forward on political
decentralization to give the Ukrainian regions more authority
in advance of local elections. These reforms have been
politically difficult, but they will also stabilize the
economy, and we are seeing the hryvnia start to stabilize even
today. And they will also support the swift disbursement of IMF
and other international donor support. I can ask you only to
imagine what it would have been like if you had been asked to
pass that much legislation that quickly and that painfully.
As Ukraine has stood up, the United States and our European
allies and partners have stood with her. This past year, the
United States provided almost $355 million in foreign
assistance to strengthen energy assistance to aid Ukraine's
poorest citizens as gas costs rise; to help fight corruption;
to strengthen the Ukrainian border guard and its military,
a deg.$118 million in security support alone; and to
support political reforms, elections and clean government.
And there is more on the way. As Secretary Kerry testified
last week, the President's budget includes an FY16 request of
$513.5 million, almost six times more than our FY14 request, to
build on these efforts. Today we are working with Europe, the
Ukrainians and the IMF to strengthen the country's economy and
support the government's reform plan, particularly in
implementing this package of legislation, including a new $1-
billion U.S. loan guarantee and up to another $1 billion later
in 2015, if you and we agree that the conditions warrant and if
Ukraine is able to meet its reform targets.
This brings me to my second point. Even as Ukraine has
begun building a peaceful, democratic, independent nation
across 94 percent of its territory, Crimea and eastern Ukraine
have suffered a reign of terror. Today, Crimea remains under
illegal annexation and human rights abuses are the norm, not
the exception, for Crimea's most vulnerable populations,
especially Crimean Tatars, Ukrainians who won't give up their
passports, and for LGBT citizens.
In eastern Ukraine, Russia and its separatist puppets have
unleashed unspeakable violence and pillage. Hundreds and
hundreds of Russian heavy weapons and troops have poured across
the border; a commercial airliner was shot down this summer;
Donetsk airport was obliterated; Ukrainian pilot Nadiya
Savchenko languishes in a Moscow jail on day 82 of her hunger
strike; and the city of Debal'tseve, outside the Minsk
ceasefire lines, fell to separatists 6 days after the February
12th Minsk Agreement was signed. Overall, as you have said Mr.
Chairman, 1.7 million Ukrainians have been forced out of their
homes and over 6,000 have lost their lives.
The United States and the EU have worked in lock-step to
impose successive rounds of tough sanctions including deep
sectoral sanctions on Russia and its separatist cronies as the
costs for these actions, and those sanctions are biting deeply
on the Russian economy. Our unity with Europe with regard to
Ukraine remains the cornerstone of our policy toward this
crisis and a fundamental element of our strength in standing up
to Russian aggression.
It is in that spirit that we salute the efforts of German
Chancellor Merkel and French President Hollande in Minsk on
February 12th to try again with President Poroshenko and
President Putin to end the fighting in Ukraine's east. The
Minsk agreements of September 5th and September 19th, and the
February 12th implementing agreement, offer the promise of
peace, disarmament, political normalization and
decentralization in eastern Ukraine, and along with them the
return of Ukraine's state sovereignty and border control in the
east. For some in Ukraine, conditions have already begun to
improve since February 12th. In parts of the east, the guns
have been silenced and the OSCE has begun to gain access. But
the picture is very, very mixed.
And just today we have OSCE reports of new heavy shelling
from separatist positions around the Donetsk airport and in the
towns outside Mariupol, particularly the strategically
important town of Shyrokyne; and we have reports of a new 17th
Russian convoy going over the border from Russia into Ukraine
with no opportunity for Ukraine or the ICRC to inspect that
convoy. And we all know what they have contained in the past.
So in the coming days, here is what we and our
international partners have to see. We need to see a complete
ceasefire all along the ceasefire line in eastern Ukraine. We
have to see full, unfettered access to the whole zone for OCSE
monitors. And we have to see a full pullback of all heavy
weapons as stipulated in the agreement.
If fully implemented, these steps will bring peace to
eastern Ukraine for the first time in almost a year, and they
will also allow for the implementation of the follow-on steps
of Minsk, namely, access for Ukraine to its citizens in the
east so they can begin a political dialogue; they can begin
real work with their own population and eventually so we can
see that international border closed.
As we have long said, the United States will start to roll
back sanctions on Russia when the Minsk agreements are fully
implemented, and so will our European partners. But as the
President has also said, we will judge Russia by its actions
not its words. And we have already begun, this week, intensive
consultations with our European partners on further sanctions
pressure should Russia continue fueling the fire in the east of
Ukraine or in other parts of the country, fail to implement
Minsk, or grab more land as we saw in Debal'tseve.
Finally, just a quick note to remind that traditional
military force is only one of the threats to European security
that we are working on. There are others including energy
dependence from a single, unreliable source; the cancer of
corruption; and the Kremlin's pervasive propaganda campaign
where truth is no obstacle. We are working across all those
fronts to harden European resilience to these new threats.
Just briefly, and there is more in my longer statement. On
energy security, project by project, we are working with the EU
and key countries to change Europe's energy landscape and to
make it more secure, resilient and diverse. On corruption, we
are working with governments, civil society and the business
community, particularly across central and Eastern Europe and
the Balkans, to close the space for dirty money to go in and
undercut democratic institutions and pervert the business
And on Russia's propaganda, we are working with the
Broadcast Board of Governors to ramp up efforts to counter lies
with truth. We are also requesting more than $20 million in
foreign assistance and public diplomacy funds for State
Department programs to counter Russian propaganda.
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Ranking Member, members of this
committee, America's investment in Ukraine is about far more
than protecting the choice of a single democratic European
country. It is about protecting the rules-based system across
Europe and globally, and it is about saying no to borders
changed by force, to big countries intimidating small, and to
demanding spheres of influence. It is also as you said, Mr.
Chairman and Mr. Ranking Member, about protecting the promise
of a Europe whole, free, and at peace. I thank each of you and
I thank this committee as a whole for its bipartisan support
and commitment to these policies. Thank you very much. I look
forward to your questions.
[The prepared statement of Ambassador Nuland follows:]
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Chairman Royce. Thank you, Ambassador Nuland.
As I mentioned in my opening statement, I do have concerns
that our intelligence sharing is really in name only when it
comes to Ukraine. And I know we can't get into great details
here on this, but do you believe our intelligence sharing with
the Ukrainians is robust enough for them to protect themselves?
Because we get the information from them about the struggle
they are having. We know the Canadians are trying to assist
them in this, but at the end of the day they have got to
prevail against these Russian backed rebel forces and Russian
forces that are on their territory now with tanks.
Ambassador Nuland. Mr. Chairman, in this unclassified
setting let me simply say that our intelligence cooperation
with Ukraine as well as with the Ukrainian intelligence
services and armed forces has been improving over time. There
are certain constraints as you know, but we are continuing to
look at what more we can do in a manner that protects our own
assets and that we are sure will be used properly.
Chairman Royce. And let me ask you another question.
Because I noticed from the head of NATO to the Director of
National Intelligence to the new Defense Secretary, it seems
like nearly every U.S. official supports providing defensive
weapons to the Ukrainians. And indeed a letter from many
Members of Congress including myself, Mr. Engel, the Speaker,
will soon go to the President on this subject. Where are we on
this decision? Because President Poroshenko continues his
appeal to us obviously.
Ambassador Nuland. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As I mentioned
in my testimony, as you know we have provided $118 million in
security and border assistance to date. This is all in the
defensive non-lethal area, but some of it is on the high end of
defensive including the very important counterfire radar
batteries that we were able to provide just over the last few
months, which Ukrainians report to us have saved lives
particularly in the most intensive conflicts around Donetsk
airports and Debal'tseve.
With regard to the question of providing more lethal
assistance, as my Secretary, Secretary Kerry, testified last
week, that question is still under discussion and the President
has not made a decision.
Chairman Royce. But I want to get back to this issue of
Russian tanks that are firing on cities and on Ukrainian
positions. If they cannot get precision anti-tank missiles or
weapons to use on the ground, there isn't the capability to
stop those tanks.
And we are not talking about transferring offensive
weaponry like tanks or selling those to Ukraine. What we are
talking about are weapons that are purely defensive but are
absolutely necessary if there is going to be any credible
deterrents to what the Russians are doing town by town now in
the east. The request here isn't for more blankets or meals. I
saw the inventory of what we have sent them. What they are
requesting is quite precise--defensive weaponry that will allow
them to hold their positions.
Ambassador Nuland. Well, Mr. Chairman, as I said these
issues are still under review including the types of equipment
that you note which would respond directly to some of the
Russian supply. Just to state for the record here, some of what
we are seeing we have since December seen Russia transfer
hundreds of pieces of military equipment to pro-Russian
separatists, tanks, armored vehicles, rocket systems, heavy
Chairman Royce. And part of the point that I am making is
that this is not all being transferred to Russian separatists.
There is no way that separatists are in those tanks. They are
not the tankers. They are not driving those tanks. Those are
Russian soldiers driving those tanks. And I would just make the
point to not decide is to decide.
Ambassador Nuland. Understood.
Chairman Royce. And that is the point we have made.
Lastly, per your observation on the broadcasting I just
wanted to make the point in terms of the dysfunction.
Yesterday, it was reported that the new CEO of the agency Andy
Lack, in terms of the BBG, is resigning his post after 6 weeks
on the job. Now we know, we know the problems that staff and
others have had over at the BBG. We have heard from our former
Secretary of State, Secretary Clinton, that the agency is
defunct. It is defunct.
Myself and Ranking Member Eliot Engel and other members of
this committee put a lot of time and effort working with those
who have a very real interest in reforming this, getting a
consensus. That legislation is necessary to get this agency
back up to the business that it did very well in the 1980s in
terms of disseminating information into Russia and into Eastern
Europe. That legislation needs to have support from the
administration, and I would just leave you with that request,
Ambassador Nuland. May I just quickly----
Chairman Royce. Yes.
Ambassador Nuland [continuing]. Respond? As you know, as
Secretary Kerry said, we do join you in supporting reform of
the BBG. We are working with you on that. We have some
differences, slight, with your proposed legislation. But I do
want to do a shout-out to BBG and its affiliates for the work
that they have been doing over the last year to counter Russian
propaganda and particularly to support broadcasting in Ukraine.
They have devoted $22.6 million to Russian language
programming, a 104-percent increase over Maidan spending. RFE,
RL, and VOA have now launched a half hour, new Russian language
program, current time, which helps fill the gap in clean news.
It is being pulled down by broadcasters all across the
periphery of Russia and parts of the Russian speaking
populations in Ukraine are also receiving it, and they are now
reaching about 6.6 million viewers. So they have been good
partners to us, and our budget requests supports doing more
Chairman Royce. We follow that very closely.
Ambassador Nuland. Good.
Chairman Royce. And we also are in consultation with those
in theater about the effectiveness. And trust us when we say
reforming the BBG is necessary at this time. We have to be able
to take some decisive actions to get this back up and running
the way it worked effectively in the 1980s.
And I am going to go to Mr. Engel of New York, the ranking
member of this committee, for his questions. Thank you.
Mr. Engel. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And Madam Secretary,
let me also put my weight behind what our chairman has said. I
agree with every word he said. I want to read you the first
part of a report put out by Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty
yesterday, and I would like you to comment on
it.Edited per article deg.
``U.S. Commander Says Some 12,000 Russian Soldiers In
Eastern Ukraine. The U.S. military estimates some
12,000 Russian soldiers are supporting pro-Moscow
separatists in eastern Ukraine. U.S. Army Europe
Commander Ben Hodges said the Russian forces are made
up of military advisers, weapons operators and combat
troops. Hodges also said some 29,000 Russian troops are
in Crimea, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine last year.
``Hodges said in Berlin on March 3 that helping
Ukraine with weapons would increase the stakes for
Russian President Vladimir Putin at home. He added that
`when mothers start seeing sons come home dead, when
that price goes up, then that domestic support [for
Putin] begins to shrink.' Hodges said what Ukraine
wants `is intelligence, counterfire capability and
something that can stop a Russian tank.'
``The White House still hasn't decided whether to
send arms to Ukraine, and Hodges reiterated Washington
wanted a diplomatic solution. Hodges also said U.S.
plans to train three Ukrainian battalions have been put
on hold to see if a cease-fire deal forged last month
in the Belarusian capital Minsk will be fully
implemented. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the
U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, also voiced support for
arming Ukraine on March 3.
``Speaking before the Senate Armed Services
Committee, Dempsey said Washington `should absolutely
consider' providing Kyiv with arms through NATO.
Dempsey said Putin's ultimate goal was to fracture
And I would add to that to destabilize Ukraine.
"Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama and European
leaders have agreed that a `strong reaction' would be
necessary if the Minsk cease-fire agreement is
It is almost like when I was a little boy, and Gary
Ackerman used to tell this story too. That his mother would
tell him to do something and she would say, I am going to count
to three and you better have this done when it is three. And
she would go one, two, and then two and a quarter, two and a
half, two and three quarters, and she would give it more and
That seems to me what we are doing. We are so waiting and
hoping that things happen that Putin, really, in my opinion,
just looks at this as a sign of weakness. And I think the
strongest thing that we can do now is to provide Kyiv with
defensive lethal weapons.
Ambassador Nuland. Well, thank you, Mr. Ranking Member.
Obviously this hearing gives us an opportunity for all of you
on both sides of the aisle to register your views on this
important subject. I would say as I said in my testimony that
we are watching very intensively whether or not the Minsk
agreements are implemented.
I cited some concerns already today following on the
vicious taking of Debal'tseve. And, as I said, we have other
tools in our arsenal including deepening of the sectoral
sanctions and we are in consultation with our allies now on how
that would go if we see more violations.
Mr. Engel. In your written testimony, Ambassador, in your
written statement you mentioned, and I am quoting you, ``In the
coming days, not weeks or months, we need to see full,
unfettered access to the whole conflict zone including all
separatist held territory for OSCE monitors.'' Does this
include territory along the border with Russia and will we
press for OSCE's ability to inspect the so-called humanitarian
convoys regularly entering Ukraine from Russia?
Ambassador Nuland. We have been pressing for that in
particular at the two border posts that OSCE has been able to
monitor on the border. Unfortunately, these convoys seem to
find roads ten kilometers north or ten kilometers south of
where the OSCE monitors are and just wing right by.
But yes, the Minsk implementation agreement of February
12th calls in the first instance for monitoring and
verification of ceasefire along the internal line as well as
these pullbacks of heavy weapons. What is required by the
agreement is not simply to see tanks and artillery pieces on
roads moving back but to be able to count them; to be able to
see them in permanent storage; to be able to come back on a
regular basis to ensure that they haven't moved or been
redeployed elsewhere; but also eventually to be able to have
access to the entire special status area. And that will
certainly be necessary if the political pieces of Minsk are to
be implemented, new elections, et cetera, so that we can be
sure that they are free and fair and that ODIHR and other OSCE
elements can get in.
Mr. Engel. And let me just ask you one final question. I am
really concerned that the Minsk implementation agreement does
not provide Ukraine control over its own border with Russia
until the end of this year following Constitution reform in
Ukraine that is acceptable to Russia. Can you allay my fears
and help me to make sense of this?
Ambassador Nuland. Well, you are correct, Mr. Ranking
Member, that the way the implementation agreement was sequenced
on February 12th restoring Ukrainian sovereignty on the eastern
border is the last item and it doesn't happen until the end of
2015. But, as I said in my statement, we are also firm with our
allies and partners that that means we will not be rolling back
sanctions on Russia until Minsk is fully implemented. So that
is part of what we have.
Now the Ukrainians, as you know, are in the process of
working intensively to reform the Constitution. The Rada has
taken new steps to accelerate that work including this bill
that I mentioned to provide greater powers to the regions, even
in advance, to all the regions of Ukraine even in advance of
constitutional reform. So we are cautiously optimistic that
with European and U.S. help, there will be constitutional
reform in Ukraine in 2015 that will meet the standards and we
will see whether the separatists are willing to work with the
government and whether we actually have elections and new
eastern Ukrainian authorities who can work on decentralization
Mr. Engel. Well, thank you. I think you hear my
frustrations, the chairman's frustrations, but thank you
personally for your hard work and your good work. Thank you.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen [presiding]. Thank you very much, Mr.
Engel. I will recognize myself.
And Madam Ambassador, many members of our committee will
continue to hammer the Obama administration on this damaging
and unnecessary and senseless delay in providing the lethal aid
that Ukraine so desperately needs, so you will continue to hear
this line of questioning. Because despite this fragile
ceasefire, Ukraine continues to suffer casualties at the hands
of separatists backed by Moscow, and the Ukraine Government
fears that Putin's thugs are simply using this opportunity,
this ceasefire, to regroup their forces in preparation of yet
Ukraine is in such tragic need of lethal aid from the U.S.,
and as you have heard both the head of our nation's
intelligence community and the head of our Defense Department
agree. Yet just last week Secretary Kerry testified before our
committee as you have heard from the chairman and the ranking
member that no decision on lethal aid has been made yet. And so
we ask and continue to ask what is the hold up? Our allies need
our assistance now. Enough with the excuses.
So in what part of the interagency process is the decision
on lethal aid for Ukraine currently stalled? Does the State
Department believe that the United States should send lethal
aid to Ukraine, yes or no? And you said that the President has
not made a decision yet, but you didn't say what you believe
and what the State Department believes, and I would like to
Also the Magnitsky Act and that list, the tragic murder a
few days ago of the Russian opposition leader came just days as
we know as he was about to publish evidence of the Russian
military in Ukraine. Has his murder been sanctioned as human
rights violators under the Magnitsky Act? And can you give us
an update on the progress or lack thereof of adding names on
that Magnitsky Act so we can sanction those violators?
And also Secretary Kerry has said that the Russian Foreign
Minister lied to his face about Russian involvement in Ukraine.
What is the extent of Russian involvement? Are Russian soldiers
in Ukraine? Are we prepared to say that participating in the
And on the 123 Agreement, and I will ask you to give me
written responses to these because there is a series of
questions. I have been advocating for the administration to
withdraw from the U.S.-Russia nuclear cooperation agreement,
the 123 Agreement, to prevent the potential future use of U.S.
nuclear technology and assistance against our own interests.
And given Putin's continued aggression, will the administration
suspend the Russia 123 Agreement?
And lastly, I have been critical of how the administration
plans on using funds to promote democracy and human rights in
Russia especially after 2012 when Putin kicked out USAID from
Russia. Please update the committee on what the administration
plans to do with that money that has been left over from the
U.S.-Russia investment fund.
Ambassador Nuland. That is a lot, Congresswoman. Let me go
through them quickly. And thank you for letting me take the 123
question in writing because I want to make sure our agencies
get it right for you.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you.
Ambassador Nuland. With regard to the process, the
President did ask covenant agencies for recommendations and
advice. Those recommendations and advice have gone forward to
him. I think you will forgive me if I take the same position my
Secretary took when he was here that we will provide that
advice confidentially and I will decline to speak to it in an
With regard to the brutal murder of Boris Nemtsov, I think
you know that before this we had met our annual statutory
requirement to provide more names under the Magnitsky
legislation, but that was of course before this event. So as we
look at our list at the end of this year we will see what we
can learn about who the perpetrators are. We have made
absolutely clear publicly and privately to the Russian
Federation that the international community will expect an
investigation that meets international standards, and that
finds not only the shooter but the orderer of the murderer.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. And not headed by Putin, heading the
investigation. I know my time is expiring, but if we were to
add, aggressively add more names to that list of human rights
violators I think we would see a change. And Russia knows that
we are not serious about implementing that legislation. But I
would love to get the answers to my questions in writing. Thank
you, Madam Ambassador.
And we will go to Brad Sherman of California.
Mr. Sherman. Ambassador, one thing I noticed about your
opening statement was your lavish praise for the Ukrainian
Parliament passing so much substantive legislation and you
compared it to Congress.
Ambassador Nuland. I didn't compare it----
Mr. Sherman. I would just note for the record, and maybe it
wasn't a comparison but came very close, that every day someone
in the administration urges me to work hard to block
legislation they don't like. And 99 percent of the bills that
the administration does not want on the President's desk are
not there due to the hard work of your allies here in Congress.
So if you want lots of legislation passed, be sure that that is
a consistent view of the administration.
Now many of my colleagues at the beginning talked about how
we need a strong policy and who would come here and advocate a
weak policy, but we do need to put this Ukrainian situation in
context. America has limited power and we seem to face
unlimited challenges--Iran, ISIS, China in the South China Sea,
the Afghanistan, some difficulties in Pakistan. So we have to
go with strength and nuance, although frankly I think in this
case we need a little bit more strength, a little bit less
There is talk about capturing Mariupol and then going and
building a land bridge to Crimea. My concern is they will want
to build a land bridge to Trans-Dniester or Moldova and take
all of Ukraine's coastal territory and access to the Black Sea.
A lot of discussion of whether we should provide lethal
weapons, albeit defensive lethal weapons to Ukraine, and such
lethal aid would have an effect on the battlefield but also a
political effect. These aren't weapons they are getting their
hands on from Paraguay. These are weapons from the world's
superpower. We can give Ukraine money or we could give them
weapons. If they had money they could buy weapons. If the
Ukrainian Government had sufficient money is there anything,
looking at the defensive weapons that are being discussed, that
they could not buy from some source? So the real question here
is can we have the battlefield effects suggested by my
colleagues by providing money?
Ambassador Nuland. First of all, Congressman, I certainly
didn't mean any invidious comparison. I was simply giving props
to these legislators who have taken some tough decisions.
Mr. Sherman. I understand. I understand.
Ambassador Nuland. Please.
Mr. Sherman. Yes.
Ambassador Nuland. With regard to your concern about a race
all along the southern rim of Ukrainian territory, not only a
land bridge to Crimea but onward to Moldova, we worry about
that, too. That is why we are paying such close attention today
to these villages between the ceasefire line and the----
Mr. Sherman. If you could focus on the question I asked.
Ambassador Nuland. Exactly. With regard to what one can buy
on the international market, a number of the things that the
Ukrainians have requested are not readily available unless the
U.S. were to license onward export. And we have a number of
countries including our allies----
Mr. Sherman. We are just talking anti-tank weapons. I mean
I see those in the World War II movies.
Ambassador Nuland. They have also been out shopping on the
world market and have had a lot of difficulty getting countries
to provide in the absence of the U.S. providing.
Mr. Sherman. And yet our enemies turn money into weapons
with great ease. You mentioned the importance of--if we can
have order in the committee. You mentioned the regions and
devolving power to the regions. That is controversial in Kyiv,
and yet if power is devolved to the regions that undercuts
Russian propaganda. It creates more support for a Ukrainian
Is it true that under the present Constitution the governor
of each state is appointed by Kyiv? I know we have some
gentlemen here from Texas who are wondering whether President
Obama will appoint their governor. I don't think that would be
a way to be popular in Texas. Have the Ukrainians changed their
system so each region can elect its own governor?
Ambassador Nuland. Congressman, that is one of the issues
that is going to be debated as they move through constitutional
reform. As you know, their system is very similar to the system
in Russia and other post-Soviet states where the executive is
appointed and the Parliament is elected locally. But on this
issue of decentralization--just to say that it is actually
broadly popular across Ukraine, not just in the east. One of
the ways that the oligarchs in power in Kyiv manage things--and
that Moscow was able to help them manage things--was because
everything was centralized. So there is broad support for
decentralizing budget authority, tax authority, local policing,
all these kinds of things, and I think you will see that.
Mr. Sherman. And hopefully electing your own governor would
be part of that. Because our friends in Kyiv need to help
themselves, not just ask for our help, and they could help
themselves a lot by countering that Russian propaganda.
I yield back.
Chairman Royce. We go now to Mr. Chris Smith of New Jersey,
chairman of the Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and
International Organizations Subcommittee.
Mr. Smith of New Jersey. And welcome Madam Ambassador. Just
a couple of points. First of all, I do believe delay is denial
and I think we have a de facto defensive weapons arms embargo
on Ukraine. And it is reminiscent to me at least and perhaps
many others to the Balkans War when we in a totally misguided
fashion ensured that Bosnia and the Croats, the Croatians, did
not have the ability to defend themselves against Milosevic's
aggression, and now we see a reprise of that happening to our
good friend and ally Ukraine.
When you get the Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, James
Clapper, and as one of my colleagues already mentioned and I
have read his speech and it is an excellent speech that was
given by our top military commander, Lieutenant General Ben
Hodges, he has made a number of important points, I think, in
his speech, perhaps chief of which is that while Ukraine's
defensive capability might not necessarily turn the tide
overnight or soon, when it comes to the military situation it
will make the diplomatic solution more probable.
And that is exactly what happened as we all know when the
Croats broke the arms embargo. It wasn't NATO bombing that
initially turned it all, it was the Croatians were able to
break the arms embargo and put Milosevic to flight. And I think
the Ukrainians are waiting for the kind of ability to defend
The President's advisors are all saying do it Mr.
President, and he has refrained from doing it. It is baffling.
When you get two world leaders between September and yesterday
publicly admonishing President Obama in joint sessions of
Congress, it is time to wake up, I believe, respectfully, and
take their views into much greater account.
As my colleagues have said, and I believe it as well, delay
is denial. People are dying. Over 6,000 are dead. Many of those
are children and women. And I do think it may even be speak
another issue and that is the hollowness of our military
increasingly. We are not there yet, thank God, but we are on a
glide slope to being weakened because of defense spending.
But as General Hodges pointed out, Germany, and we know
Angela Merkel has admonished not to go with the military
defensive capability, only 42 of Germany's 106 Typhoon fighters
are available because of maintenance, 38 of its 89 Tornado
bombers. Special forces had to pull out of the joint exercise
because there was no working helicopter. A hollow force is an
engraved invitation to Vladimir Putin to continue his
aggressive ways, so I think the alliance itself and the United
States needs to step up and help the Ukrainians.
I was in Europe 2 weeks ago for an OSCE winter meeting, and
the Ukrainians, and while they don't want to say this publicly,
just like Netanyahu was effusive in the opening speech, part of
his speech with praise for Obama, they don't want to say it
publicly, they need us. So they have to tread lightly and walk
But they told me off the record how profoundly disappointed
they are in President Obama especially in light of people
around him saying please Mr. President, this is a time for
American leadership. So when will that decision be made? The
pipeline took 6 years and then finally we found out where the
President really stood when he vetoed the bill for the Keystone
Pipeline. What, is it next week? Is it tomorrow? There is
statements by Poroshenko today admonishing the, and it is right
from our Embassy, admonishing the European Union not to be
premature, his word, in being optimistic about where Minsk II
is taking us.
And again there are also parallels that I thank God for the
452 OSCE monitors that are on the ground doing wonderful work,
but it is reminiscent again of what happened in Croatia and
Bosnia when the European monitors were there. And I remember
meeting with them with their white suits on and scorepads. How
many people are being killed? How many are being raped? It was
horrible stuff and they were brave as could be, no weapons,
while the OSCE monitors are in that same boat. They need
defensive weapons and they need them now.
Yield. The answer tomorrow maybe are we going to find out
from the President? Delay is denial.
Ambassador Nuland. Thank you, Congressman. I think as you
heard in my opening statement, we are watching the
implementation of Minsk. We do have concerns now about new
firing on the ground in the last couple of days. I do think
that the environment and whether this is implemented will
affect the calculus both on the sanction side and on the
security support side.
Mr. Smith of New Jersey. Okay, but hopefully soon. I mean
the Ukrainians are suffering so much. Nadia Savchenko the
pilot, remember, of the Parliament? She is in her 82nd day of a
hunger strike. What do we know about her and what are we doing
to try to affect her release?
Ambassador Nuland. We have grave concerns about her
condition. We believe she was illegally abducted across the
border and that she is being illegally held; that if Russia
wanted to give a humanitarian gesture there would be nothing
more impactful that they could do quickly than to release her.
Today we have concerns about her health. She was seen by a
European doctor last week or 2 weeks ago. But as you know, when
you are taking in no calories, every day matters. So in every
meeting we have at every level, notably including Secretary
Kerry's meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov over the weekend,
we raise her condition and ask that she be released
Chairman Royce. Thank you. We go now to Mr. Gregory Meeks
of New York, ranking member of the subcommittee on Europe.
Mr. Meeks. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And let me just say for
me this is very complicated. I don't think that there is one
solution to it, whether it is giving weapons if that is going
to be the be-all and end-all that is going to resolve this
problem or not. I am not even sure where I am at on that.
Let me just ask this question. I just want to ask one. I
know we have been a lot on weapons. Because I think by now
everybody is clear I am a multilateralist. I think that the
world is different. We can't just do things on our own. I think
it is leadership when you are bringing countries together and
you have it in the work and stick together. I think that is
leadership. But it is difficult. It is easy to do things by
yourself. It is harder to do things in conjunction with others,
and that is real leadership in my estimation.
Now where is, and I am not sure even on the weapons because
like I say I am not sure where I am at because you don't like
to see this, but have we had dialogue and where is our EU
partners on giving defensive weapons to Ukraine? And in my mind
I am still unclear what is defensive weapons, what are
offensive weapons, whether or not those weapons, if you are in
battle everyone says that Ukraine cannot beat Russia. Can
Russia take those weapons away from the Ukrainians? But where
is our EU partners on the issue of arming Ukraine?
Ambassador Nuland. Thank you, Congressman, and thank you
for your support for Europe as the new ranking member of a
I am multilateralist, too. I would say with regard to
managing our response on Ukraine, we spend almost as much time
working with NATO and EU partners as we do working with
Ukrainians, because that unity is so important and it makes it
impossible for the Kremlin to divide us.
All 28 allies have provided, NATO allies have provided,
some form of security assistance to Ukraine. That was one of
the commitments we made to each other at Wales. It can take the
form of training. It can take the form of support for the
medical needs of the military, those kinds of things.
The U.K. and Poland have just announced, as you probably
saw in the press, that they will start training Ukrainians
along the lines of the notifications that we have sent up to
you all. Where the divide happens and where the debate is
happening, and there are allies and partners on both sides of
this debate as there are folks in Washington, is on the
question of the lethality of the weapons. So non-lethal
defensive weapons everybody has been supportive of what we have
done, what this committee has funded.
On the question of lethal, I think the debate is very
similar with different allies on different sides. The President
obviously has discussed this with all of his partners, most
notably with Chancellor Merkel when she was here. The Vice
President had a chance to talk to a lot of Europeans at Munich
as did Secretary Kerry. So that conversation continues.
Mr. Meeks. Let me ask this question a little bit different.
Because what my concern really is even before we can deal with
what is taking place militarily, a few folks that I have spoken
with they are really concerned with the dire straits of the
economics, of the economy of the Ukraine. In fact some has said
to me that the economy and corruption could cause the
Ukrainian, this Ukraine, the government to fold even before we
get further down the road. And that even the money that we give
some questioning whether or not it is going to where it is
supposed to go or is it getting into corrupt hands.
So my question is what is new in this government and its
legislation that changes our calculation on this front and
gives encouragement? Because in many I am told, politically,
all politics are local, that many of the individuals in Ukraine
are more concerned about the economy and corruption right now
as their first concern before we even move off from that. So
where are we there?
Ambassador Nuland. Thank you, Congressman, for raising this
point. This is the other major line of vulnerability for
Ukraine and where we have to shore her up. And again we thank
you for your support and generosity on this committee for,
first, last year's $1 billion loan guarantee, then again our
request for the second $1 billion loan guarantee which is the
U.S. contribution to the multilateral effort that the IMF is
As you have seen in the last few weeks, as the Ukrainians
have started the very hard legislative work and implementation
work to attack the problems in the economy, it has been
extremely intense. I gave a long list in my opening statement.
You will see a fuller list in my long statement of all the
legislation that they have passed to establish an anti-
corruption bureau; to clean up public procurement; to open the
banking system to scrutiny; to get oligarchs and others to
start paying their taxes; to break up public and private energy
monopolies, these kinds of things. But that is going to require
implementation. And most of the economic support funds we have
asked you all for Ukraine, for '15 and again for '16, go to the
U.S. mentors and advisers, our ability to work with them on
implementing legislation, help them be public in these things.
But it is a long, long road but they are seizing it by the
horns. That is why we have structured our support to ask you
for the second billion-dollar loan guarantee now, but not to
come back to you for the third one until the fall when we see
how they implement because our assistance, like everyone's
assistance, is tied to performance. The Ukrainian people expect
no less. That is what they stood in the snow for and that is
what we expect as well.
Chairman Royce. Thank you.
We go now to Mr. Dana Rohrabacher of California, chairman
of the Europe, European and Emerging Threats subcommittee.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Let me
agree with Mr. Meeks that this is a very complicated issue and
perhaps a lot more complicated than the black and white
alternatives that we have been hearing about today.
At one point we have heard that the Ukraine desperately
needs economic help, and I would hope that our goal is to do
what is right by Ukraine and bring peace to Ukraine and not our
goal being to basically defeat and humiliate Russia for actions
that it has taken. Because if that is our goal, the people of
Ukraine will continue to suffer and suffer and suffer.
Back to the Ukraine desperately needs economic help, this
whole incident in history started when the government of what
you call the rotten regime that preceded the current Government
of Ukraine went to our European allies to ask for help that it
desperately needed for its economy. And the deal that was
offered by our European allies was not sufficient, and in fact
was much less than what the Russians offered them instead.
And when that deal was taken by the rotten regime that you
have mentioned, all of a sudden that is when it became so
rotten that we no longer, or the people could no longer put up
with it. The pivotal moment was when it accepted the deal that
was offered by Russia to help them in their desperate economic
situation which our European allies were not willing to do.
That ignited this situation. That is what turned policies type
of situations, and perhaps the overturn of a rotten government
through an electoral process into instead the overturn of the
rotten regime by violent demonstrations and non-democratic
means of overthrowing that regime. Two years later they could
have kicked that Yanukovych out with a free election. They
Let me ask you about--okay, so let us hope that what we are
doing now is aimed at trying to end the conflict that started
in that more complicated way than black and white.
The people are advocating that we send weapons to Ukraine,
the defensive weapons. Would any of these weapons be under, do
we see any of these weapons becoming part of the arsenal of
that part of the Ukrainian army that is financed, which I
believe a third of the Ukrainian army now that is in conflict
is financed by an oligarch, a private citizen who happens to be
Ambassador Nuland. First of all, Congressman, thank you. I
will respectfully take issue with some of the facts that you
presented here because----
Mr. Rohrabacher. Please go right ahead. I am happy to do
that. That is fine.
Ambassador Nuland. First of all, in the fall of 2013 the
reason that folks went to the Maidan was not because money was
taken from Russia. It was because former President Yanukovych
turned his back on the EU Association Agreement that he had for
6 months been promising his people. It got worse after----
Mr. Rohrabacher. Have you read that agreement?
Ambassador Nuland. I have.
Mr. Rohrabacher. And do you believe that that agreement--I
have as well. Do you believe that that agreement was superior
to what the Russians were offering?
Ambassador Nuland. Let me speak to that. So in the same
period in the fall of 2013 when Yanukovych was talking to the
EU about association he was also working with the IMF on an IMF
package similar to what was offered later and what we have now.
I was working as the U.S. Government's representative to him to
try to get him to meet IMF conditions. I had more than 30 hours
of meetings with him and declined to meet with----
Mr. Rohrabacher. Excuse me, I only have 25 seconds where
they cut me off.
Ambassador Nuland. Okay.
Mr. Rohrabacher. I want to make this point.
Ambassador Nuland. Let me speak to the weapons issue.
Mr. Rohrabacher. It is not your time. They are going to cut
me off in 15 seconds. I hope that what we are doing is trying
to bring peace to the Ukrainians and not to humiliate the
Russians. And there is a lot of people--and I understand, I was
a big Cold Warrior as well. Our goal should be to try to have
peace in that part of the world, not to try to humiliate Russia
again and again and again. There is too many people being
killed out there.
And I would hope that with decentralization which seems to
be accepted by both sides that that area of eastern Ukraine can
remain part of Ukraine even though that now we have this
separatist violence going on that with promise of
decentralization and respect for everybody's rights and an end
to the violence that we can end this situation.
And that should be our goal and I would hope that we don't
get caught up in trying to reestablish a Cold War with Russia
because we have so many people who have grudges. And by the way
I understand that. Russians during the Cold War murdered how
many Ukrainians, but our goal shouldn't be right now to make
them pay for that what they did during Stalin's era, but bring
peace to that region. And I would hope that we could work
together on that. I am sorry but they are going to cut me off
Chairman Royce. Okay, we are going to go to Mr. Gerry
Connolly of Virginia.
Ambassador Nuland. Mr. Chairman, can I just quickly----
Chairman Royce. Yes, Ambassador.
Ambassador Nuland. I think it is important for the record
to say that the only thing that the United States and our
European partners want from Russia with regard to Ukraine is to
leave Ukrainian territory. Leave Ukrainian territory with their
military, with their advisers, to allow the border to close, to
allow sovereignty to be restored. And as we said, these
sanctions will be eased when Minsk is fully implemented. There
is no effort.
What my concern is it is the policies of the Kremlin that
are hurting the Russian people now. Hurting them economically.
Having their sons come home in body bags. That is what I worry
about. I have spent 25 years of my life trying to integrate
Russia into Europe and into the international system, and I
worry about the fate of Russia's citizens as much as Ukraine's.
Chairman Royce. We are going to go to Mr. Gerald Connolly
of Virginia. Fairfax, Virginia.
Mr. Connolly. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I would
just say I have heard my friend from California. I have got to
say the logic of the Ukrainian Government made bad decisions
and therefore Russia had to respond is a pretty chilling
message to others in Europe, including the Baltics and former
Soviet satellite states. Sovereign nations get to make
decisions, even decisions that may be unpopular in the Kremlin.
And they can do so without the fear of being invaded and their
territory annexed illegally, and I would hope that all of us
would keep that in mind.
Madam Secretary, Minsk, the Minsk agreement. Does the Minsk
agreement include interalia the de-occupation and de-
annexation, illegal annexation of the Crimea?
Ambassador Nuland. Congressman, it does not. It only
addresses eastern Ukraine. So the problem in Crimea will
Mr. Connolly. Well, but I have got a problem then with you
and with our policy. You say in your statement the United
States will start rolling back sanctions on Russia only when
the Minsk agreements are fully implemented. Well, that means
you have conceded Crimea. Is that U.S. policy?
Ambassador Nuland. It is not, sir.
Mr. Connolly. Why would you roll back--I swear I am not
playing with the audience. This is a passion with me. It
started with Crimea. Why would you make a statement like that?
You are saying as long as you clean it up in the eastern part
of the Ukraine we will roll back sanctions. That is what you
say on Page 3 of your testimony.
Ambassador Nuland. I do indeed. Let me explain if I may.
Mr. Connolly. Yes.
Ambassador Nuland. Thank you for the opportunity to do so.
Over the course of 2014 we with the Europeans put in place
four or five rounds of sanctions. The first two were a direct
response to Crimea, and then in December we added sanctions on
Crimea which effectively make it impossible for any U.S. firms
to invest there. Those sanctions will not be rolled back unless
there is a return of Crimea to Ukraine. So the sanctions that
we are talking about rolling back are other sanctions that were
applied in response to actions in eastern Ukraine, but Crimea
sanctions will stay in place. And the point here is to
demonstrate that if you bite off a piece of another person's
country it dries up in your mouth.
Mr. Connolly. Well, but you have got kind of two categories
of sanctions. Crimea sanctions and non-Crimea sanctions.
Ambassador Nuland. Yes, sir.
Mr. Connolly. Well, if you are Vladimir Putin, how
seriously do you take that?
Ambassador Nuland. Well, you take it quite seriously
because there is no U.S. or European investment going into
Crimea now and it is incredibly expensive for them to maintain
this occupation that they have now started.
Mr. Connolly. But, well, I would respectfully suggest Madam
Ambassador that frankly we need to reexamine that policy,
because it clearly isn't efficacious. It certainly isn't
deterring behavior by Putin right now in the eastern part of
the Ukraine. People are dying. You yourself in your opening
statement documented illegal movement of military equipment
across the border with impunity.
And it seems to me that you have unwittingly sent a message
to the Kremlin, wink blink, get out of the eastern Ukraine and
maybe everything can return to some sense of normalcy in the
bilateral or multilateral relationship. That may not be your
intended message, but when you are a KGB thug who happens to be
the head of another state, the aggressor in this case, that is
the message he is hearing. The evidence on the ground would
suggest that is the case.
Ambassador Nuland. First of all, if I may, I think it might
be helpful if we sent our sanctions team up to show you the
breakdown between what we hold for Crimea and what we hold for
eastern Ukraine. I think that might be----
Mr. Connolly. You mean the State Department's sanction
team? Is that what you said?
Ambassador Nuland. State and Treasury, yes. If that is
Mr. Connolly. Okay. Well, that would be a novel thought
having the State Department brief a Member of Congress.
Ambassador Nuland. We will make that happen as soon as they
come back from Europe. But I want to make clear as I also said
in my statement, we have begun consultations already this week
with our European partners on deepening sanctions if we do not
see Minsk implemented.
Mr. Connolly. How many violations have there been on Minsk
II? We have a count that says there have been over 300
violations of the current agreement. Would that be roughly in
the ballpark from your point of view?
Ambassador Nuland. I don't have the OSCE figures in front
of me, but they have logged more than 100 in terms of----
Mr. Connolly. Isn't part of the problem of Minsk that there
isn't really much teeth? With the best of intentions Merkel and
Hollande are trying to negotiate with nothing backing it up.
Wouldn't it be useful to have the United States and its NATO
partners at least threatening to provide defensive equipment
and defensive weapons and training for the Ukrainian military
so that that is a piece of what is behind the Minsk agreements?
Ambassador Nuland. Well, as you know it was in the week
leading up to Minsk that the conversation between us and our
European allies about this question went public. So it is very
much in the ether here. But I think equally importantly is to
be in line with Europe on the additional sanctions that will be
imposed if Minsk is further violated or if there is a further
land grab, and that is what we are working on now.
Mr. Connolly. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, my time is up but I want to echo, I think,
your opening comments.
Chairman Royce. Mr. Connolly, yes.
Mr. Connolly. One wonders when the United States Government
at the State Department decides a policy is not working and
rethinks it. Because people are dying because of the lack of
efficacy of this policy despite the best of intentions, and I
hope we come to some point where we rethink our policy with
respect to the Ukraine. And Crimea. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Royce. Thank you, Mr. Connolly.
We go now to Mr. Matt Salmon of Arizona, chairman of the
subcommittee on Asia.
Mr. Salmon. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you so much for
being here today, Ambassador. To date, the sanctions that have
been imposed on Russia have had really little impact on Putin's
decision making. The administration has stated that additional
sanctions are being considered, but without the commitment of
some our allies, some of our European allies to enforce those
sanctions with us or impose sanctions as a body, the likelihood
of those sanctions having much effect are not real great.
Are there other sanctions that the administration is
considering and do you believe that it will impact Putin's
decision making in the near term? You stated in your opening
comments that what has really impacted him is the price of oil
and that it has really brought their economy to their knees.
So I am wondering if maybe it is time also for us to
consider our policy in selling natural gas to our European
allies. The process just hasn't moved very quickly. And one of
the reasons I know that Germany has been so reticent to allow
us to sell arms or provide arms to the Ukrainians is because of
their heavy reliance on natural gas from Russia. Same thing has
been true on support of sanctions. Isn't it time for us to just
really pull out the stops and start selling LNG to our allies
Ambassador Nuland. Thank you, Congressman. Well, as you
know most U.S. LNG now goes to Asia because the price is
higher. Under the Transatlantic Trade and Investment
Partnership, if we have a deal between the 28 Europeans and the
United States, then they would go to the top of the queue in
terms of acquiring LNG. But it is a fair point whether we could
or should do more.
With regard to sanctions, we have not yet changed his
decision making decisively but we are having a profound effect
on the Russian economy and we do think it is the trifecta of
sanctions, low oil prices and 15-plus years of economic
mismanagement in Russia. I can go through some of the
statistics but I think you know them. Foreign currency reserves
down $130 billion just over the last year. Credit at junk,
inflation running 15 percent, and 40 percent in food prices.
So he is--Kremlin policy is under stress here which is why
it is important to keep these sanctions in place and to
consider deepening them. We are, as I said, working now with
the Europeans on what more we would do sectorally if we do not
see Minsk implemented, if we do not have an end to the
ceasefire violations, if we do not have a heavy weapons
pullback, on and on. But also even deeper sanctions if we have
a further land grab, and we are, as I said, watching these at-
risk villages on the road to Mariupol, et cetera, now. And our
sanctions team is in Europe this week.
Mr. Salmon. The chairman mentioned in his opening statement
that we made a pretty ironclad promise to Ukraine when they
agreed to get rid of their nuclear arms, and to date the U.S
and NATO response to the Russian aggressions has been pretty
muted at best. In fact, out of the $118 million of non-lethal
assistance the U.S. pledged last year, my understanding is only
half of it or about half of it was delivered by year-end.
Don't you believe that there will be long-term consequences
for the U.S. and NATO if we fail to live up to our commitments
to defend our allies? And when are we going to make that
decision as far as whether or not to provide at least defensive
weapons to Ukraine? I know that question has been asked and
hopefully that is something you carry back to your boss.
Because as far as we are concerned nothing is going to get
better unless we step up to our commitment to honor the
promises that we made. And my feeling is nobody is going to
trust us in the region if we don't honor those commitments.
Ambassador Nuland. Thank you, Congressman.
Chairman Royce. Thank the gentleman for yielding back. We
now go to Brian Higgins of New York.
Mr. Higgins. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Secretary, how many Russian soldiers are in Ukraine today?
Ambassador Nuland. Congressman, I am not in a position to
give you a definitive number in this unclassified setting. You
have seen Ben Hodges make a calculation from U.S. Army Europe.
I would say it is in the thousands and thousands. I am sorry.
Let me also, just while I have you here, say that what we
can say in this unclassified setting is that since December,
Russia has transferred hundreds of pieces of military equipment
including tanks, armored vehicles, rocket systems, heavy
artillery. The Russian military has its own robust command
structure in eastern Ukraine ranging from general officers to
junior officers. As the President said not too long ago, they
are funding this war. They are fueling it. They are commanding
and controlling it.
Mr. Higgins. In practical terms does that constitute an
Ambassador Nuland. We have made clear that Russia is
responsible for fueling this war in eastern Ukraine.
Mr. Higgins. Yes or no, constitutes an invasion.
Ambassador Nuland. We have used that word in the past, yes.
Mr. Higgins. If Ukraine was a member of NATO, under the
collective defense posture of Article 5 what would the
consequence of Russia's invasion of Ukraine be?
Ambassador Nuland. Well, Article 5 would give all of the 28
allies a responsibility to defend Ukraine from aggression. Just
to make clear that even in 2008 when Ukraine was discussing
with NATO an improvement in its relationship, at that stage we
were only at the Membership Action Plan which is the
Mr. Higgins. Is it in reality Putin's concern about America
encroachment and NATO encroachment on what was formerly the
Ambassador Nuland. I can't speak to what is in President
Putin's head. That is a place that I don't think I can go. But
what I can say is that there is no justification for being
concerned about countries peacefully associating with a
defensive alliance. We have said for 25 years that NATO is not
a threat to a Russia that does not threaten us.
Mr. Higgins. Russia's defense spending has tripled since
2007. Today it is involved in about a $300-billion program to
modernize its weapons. New types of missiles, bombers and
submarines are being readied for deployment over the next 5
years. Spending on defense and security this year will increase
by 30 percent in Russia representing one third of its Federal
budget. Putin has said very clearly that nobody should try to
shove Russia around when it has one of the world's biggest
nuclear arsenals. At last count, Russia had 8,000 nuclear
weapons. He has threatened to use nuclear weapons on a limited
basis, if that is possible, to force opponents, specifically
the United States and NATO, to withdraw from a conflict in
which Russia has a stake such as in Georgia and Ukraine. That
is pretty ominous. That is a pretty ominous statement. Your
Ambassador Nuland. Well, we obviously have great concerns
about the massive increases in Russian defense budgeting over
the recent years. It is particularly concerning given what is
happening to the Russian economy and to the Russian people. As
I said before, inflation across the country is now running 15,
17 percent. Food prices rampantly increasing including 40
percent in some areas. Credit at zero. The inability of
Russians now to travel and to buy new apartments because they
can't get loans, et cetera. And at the same time he is pouring
money into the military. So this is a Kremlin that is
prioritizing foreign adventures over the needs of its own
people and that is worrying.
Mr. Higgins. Okay. I yield back. Thank you.
Chairman Royce. We go now to Mr. Randy Weber of Texas.
Mr. Weber. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madam Ambassador, you mentioned earlier the body bags, the
boys going back to Russia. It had to be tough on them. Do you
know what the body bag count, the numbers of soldiers they are
Ambassador Nuland. It is not possible, Congressman, to have
a final count because of what Russia has done to mask these
numbers. As you know they have criminalized discussion of it
inside Russia. They have threatened mothers and wives and
family members with pensions.
Mr. Weber. Okay, so you don't know.
Ambassador Nuland. But the Ukrainians assert that it is at
least 400, 500 people.
Mr. Weber. And if they check into it too deeply they will
Ambassador Nuland. Absolutely.
Mr. Weber. So what is the body count for Ukrainians?
Ambassador Nuland. As I said in my statement, close to
6,000 Ukrainians have lost their lives in this conflict.
Mr. Weber. So 6,000.
Ambassador Nuland. Or over 6,000, I believe.
Mr. Weber. How long do you think we have before Ukraine
becomes another Crimea? It is annexed into Russia.
Ambassador Nuland. Well, as I said, Congressman, the entire
thrust of our policy is to stop it where it is and roll it back
if we possibly can. That is why we have been imposing these
increasingly tough sanctions and you see the Russian economy
suffering as a result, providing increasing amounts of security
assistance albeit on the non-lethal side.
Mr. Weber. But the sanctions haven't stopped the body bags
from flowing both directions have they?
Ambassador Nuland. They have not, and this is what we
continue to try to seek is a full implementation of the
commitments that Vladimir Putin himself just made less than 2
weeks ago in Minsk.
Mr. Weber. Do you trust him?
Ambassador Nuland. Trust is not a word I use in that
Mr. Weber. Okay, I think you are wise at least in that one
regard. You said it is difficult for Russia to sustain their
occupation of Crimea in your comments earlier.
Ambassador Nuland. I am sorry. I didn't say it was
difficult for them to sustain it. I said they were hemorrhaging
money. It is extremely expensive for them to sustain it.
Mr. Weber. Well, maybe that is part of our problem in
Congress. That should be viewed as a difficulty. So they are
hemorrhaging money. So you don't think that that makes it
difficult for them to sustain their occupation?
Ambassador Nuland. Well, they still have as you know more
than $300 billion in sovereign wealth. What they are doing now
is using the money of the Russian people, the hard earned money
that should go for their long-term protection to prop up this
puppet annexation occupation.
Mr. Weber. So we have made it difficult for them to sustain
their--you don't want to use the word ``difficult.'' You have
made them spend money to sustain their occupation.
Ambassador Nuland. We are declining to invest in this
territory that is now occupied, yes.
Mr. Weber. Okay, so they are spending a lot of money. How
do we make it that difficult and more so for them to be in the
Ambassador Nuland. Well, as I said, as we continue to watch
this implementation or nonimplementation of Minsk we are
looking at the next range of sectoral sanctions either to
deepen in the sectors where we already have sanctions--on the
finance side, on the energy side, on the defense side--or to
add sectors of the Russian economy that we----
Mr. Weber. Would you agree that we can make them hemorrhage
money in Ukraine if we are destroying their tanks as they enter
Ambassador Nuland. Well, they already have been
hemorrhaging money on their weapons.
Mr. Weber. No, but that is not my question. If we are
knocking out their tanks left and right, does that cost them a
lot of money?
Ambassador Nuland. It certainly would be money down the rat
hole for sure.
Mr. Weber. And we would rather them having body bags going
back to Russia than we would have body bags on this side of the
border. Is that accurate?
Ambassador Nuland. What we want is peace and an end to the
body bags in any direction.
Mr. Weber. Do you think that Putin understands peace or do
you think he understands force?
Ambassador Nuland. Again I am not going to get inside his
head. It is not a place to be.
Mr. Weber. Okay. Well, fair enough. If you are married like
I am sometimes it is difficult to get into your spouse's head.
So let us put you over in the President's head then. Can I do
Ambassador Nuland. You are welcome to try, sir.
Mr. Weber. No, I think the comment is you are welcome to
try. Is the President disengaged or not worried about this?
Ambassador Nuland. Absolutely not. The President has been
the leader of this Ukraine policy. He has been enormously
engaged. I have been in meetings with him where he was
Mr. Weber. He has 21 months left. How many more body bags
have to take place in Ukraine before we send them lethal? And I
will just call them lethal weapons. I hate the words
``defensive weapons.'' I mean a weapon is a weapon. So how long
is it going to take? How many more body bags before we get in
gear and make this decision? What do you think the President is
Ambassador Nuland. Again these are his decisions to make.
We will certainly convey to him your concerns.
Mr. Weber. Okay, then your decision from my vantage point
is what kind of pressure, what kind of information are you
giving to the President? This is Mr. President we need to act.
Ambassador Nuland. Congressman, as I said a little bit
earlier on in this hearing, I am going to take the same
position that my Secretary took when he was here last week. The
President has asked us for our advice. We have provided it to
him, but I am going to keep that advice confidential for
purposes of this hearing.
Chairman Royce. Mr. David Cicilline of Rhode Island.
Mr. Cicilline. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you,
Ambassador Nuland, for your testimony. I want to begin by also
recognizing the tragic murder of Russian freedom fighter Boris
Nemtsov who was brutally murdered in the streets of Moscow last
weekend to of course urge our Government to do anything it can
to ensure the perpetrators of this horrific crime are brought
to justice. And I know many in this country are sending their
thoughts and prayers to his family and to his friends and his
colleagues. Unfortunately these so-called tragic events are
quite common for those who dare to criticize Mr. Putin and his
cronies, and I think it is important that we acknowledge the
extraordinary efforts of this freedom fighter.
I thank you for your testimony, and I want to just focus on
the corruption efforts that are underway. As you well know,
Ukraine has historically had the distinction of being, or
dubious distinction of being one of the most corrupt countries
in the world, and I wonder if you would speak to how the new
government in Kyiv is addressing this problem.
Are their reforms on pace? Are they going far enough? What
are we doing to support those efforts? And are we seeing the
tough decisions that need to be made and the kind of
prosecutions and firings and the development of an independent
judiciary to help advance the anti-corruption efforts that was
a source of so much of what happened at the Maidan? And I just
wondered if you would speak to some of those issues.
Ambassador Nuland. Thank you, Congressman. Corruption has
been a country killer for Ukraine. It has also been an opening
for malign influence from the outside in Ukraine's business. So
not only because Ukraine's own citizens demand it, but because
the democratic health of the country demands it, this has been
a major source of focus of collaboration within the Ukrainian
Government. As I said at the outset, they have just over the
last 3 months passed an enormous amount of legislation, much of
it designed to tackle corruption. Just to name a few things, a
new anti-corruption strategy; a new public procurement system;
the creation of an anti-corruption bureau and national agency
for prevention of corruption; strengthened anti-money
laundering regulations; disclosure of public officials'
domestic and overseas assets for the first time; partial
judicial reform including of the prosecutor general, more to
The U.S. is providing some $38 million in the assistance
money that you have given us for that purpose. We have advisers
and trainers in many of these entities. We are also supporting
civil society for oversight and reform. Other new positive
developments that go to the corruption and past dirty money
practices, they are standing up a new patrol police. The police
as you know have historically been subject to bribery. The new
prosecutor general, Viktor Pshonka, has issued arrest warrants,
new arrest warrants for some of the corrupt ex-officials.
There is a new business ombudsman appointed. They have
slashed the corrupt energy subsidy. They have cut payroll taxes
to reduce incentives for unreported wages; eliminated eight
regulatory agencies and consolidated them into one; increased
transparency of state-owned companies; made banking
recapitalization more transparent. A lot of this is legislation
on the books. We now have to see it implemented. We have to see
oligarchs and everybody pay their taxes, be immune from special
and sweetheart deals. We will watch like a hawk. The Ukrainian
people will watch like a hawk. I think the parties will be
judged by this in local elections in October. But Ukraine is on
the path. They have to stick to it now.
Mr. Cicilline. Great, thank you. And just to turn to a new
subject. Could you sort of speak a little bit about what role
the Ukrainian reliance on Russian energy is playing in this
conflict and what the U.S. and our allies are doing to help
alleviate Ukrainian reliance on Russia? And are European allies
able to separate themselves from their own energy needs as this
sort of conflict continues?
Ambassador Nuland. Congressman, as you know energy has long
been a noose that the Kremlin has had around the neck of
subsequent generations of Ukrainian leaders. This government is
bound and determined to break that. Our first effort was to
help them get gas from parts of Europe other than Russia, so we
worked with Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland last year to start
reversing gas flows into Ukraine.
We have worked with the European Union as they have
brokered the gas deal that Ukraine cut, which was a much fairer
deal for the winter of 2014-15. We are now working with them as
I said to open up, demonopolize the energy sector to help them
get more of their own energy out of the ground, to work on
energy efficiency. If you have ever been to Kyiv in the winter
and had government windows open you know how badly that is
needed. About a third of the heat is going out the windows. It
So we are working on all of those things to break the
dependence, but also to help Ukraine get to that place where it
can be an energy supplier for Europe.
Mr. Cicilline. Thank you.
I yield back. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Royce. Thank you. We go now to Mr. Scott Perry of
Mr. Perry. Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
Ambassador, great to see you. Please don't take any of the
comments personally, but as an American, quite honestly I am
disappointed and disgusted with the ineffectual and pathetic
response from this administration regarding this circumstance
And I am just wondering, to start out, does the
administration agree--because we have heard in other forums
about grievances, legitimate grievances. So does the
administration agree with the justification from Putin
regarding the protection of ethnic Russians in any way, shape
Ambassador Nuland. There is nothing that justifies the kind
of violence that we have seen Russia unleash in eastern Ukraine
or in Crimea.
Mr. Perry. I agree with you.
Ambassador Nuland. However----
Mr. Perry. But do they have legitimate grievances? Does
Russia have legitimate grievances in this regard?
Ambassador Nuland. Russian speaking citizens in eastern
Ukraine, like citizens in other parts of Ukraine, have long
wanted some of the things that Russia championed for them--
language, rights, decentralization. But all of those things
were on offer first from the transitional government of
Yatsenyuk from March onward, and since then with President
Poroshenko and the new Rada. So there is no reason for 6,000
Mr. Perry. Okay, so I just want to make sure, because
history sometimes get lost on us as we go through our days. But
I just want to make sure that the administration is familiar
and aware of the history of Stalin and Khrushchev in the '20s
and the '30s and the terror, the Terror-Famine and the
starvation of the Ukrainian people and the displacement and
deportations and the reestablishment of Russians into the
And so when Putin says that he is going to protect these
Russian speaking citizens, with all due respect they were moved
into Ukraine by killing the Ukrainians. And it is important to
know that history when we talk about legitimate grievances. So
I am concerned. I too agree that we should send defensive
weapons to Ukraine. I am in the agreement camp on that.
So does the current posture of or the strategic patience
that I hear about, does the White House's--well, how does that
fit in? How does the decision not to send defensive weapons at
this point, how does that fit into strategic patience or is it
a part of it?
Ambassador Nuland. Nobody has been patient with what we are
seeing in eastern Ukraine. Just to remind we have sent----
Mr. Perry. The Ukrainians have been patient because they
have no choice.
Ambassador Nuland. We have sent as you know $118 million
Mr. Perry. Defensive weapons, so forget all that other
stuff. Defensive weapons. I imagine you have been to a war
zone. I have.
Ambassador Nuland. Yes.
Mr. Perry. Okay, blankets and all that stuff, they don't
stop bullets. They don't stop tanks. You must defend yourself.
Harsh words and we will get back to you and we are deciding,
that doesn't help. So I am talking about defensive weapons and
strategic patience. Where does one hinge on the other? How do
they fall together?
Ambassador Nuland. Some of the things we have sent do fall
into the category of defensive non-lethal weapons. I would note
again that the counterfire radar batteries that we have sent
did save lives. They enabled the Ukrainian forces to target
where firing was coming from so that they could defend against
it. We have also provided support in the intelligence----
Mr. Perry. Okay, listen. I get it. With all due respect
that is the absolute minimum standard. It is not going to be
effectual, which is why my opening statement about pathetic and
ineffectual is valid in my opinion.
Let me ask you this. Can you explain the concerns within
the context, the concerns about providing defensive weapons
within the context that the President requested hundreds of
millions of dollars from this Congress for training and
equipping for moderate fighters in Syria?
So in that context where we are going to send those folks
weapons, weapons, not defensive weapons, but weapons and
training that somehow Ukraine and the people that have been
there that are more like us than the other, they can't have
those weapons. How do we reconcile that? What is the
Ambassador Nuland. Well, as you know the training and
equipment request for Syria goes to the need to defeat the ISIL
threat, which is a central threat as well to the homeland. I
don't work on Syria policy so I am going to refrain from
Mr. Perry. Do you find that to be a little incongruent? We
don't know who the Syrian fighters are. We don't know--look,
today they are fighting ISIS, tomorrow they are fighting Assad,
the next day they are fighting us and we are going to train
them and send them weapons? Don't you find that a little
incongruent? Have Ukrainian people ever said that they were
going to fight the United States, kill us and the Great Satan?
Have they ever said anything like that?
Ambassador Nuland. Well, certainly we will register your
strong position on this issue, Congressman. I would say that
$118 million in security support is not nothing. I hear you
that you want to hear more.
Mr. Perry. At the end of my time here. We hear that sending
defensive weapons will escalate the problem. Not sending them
that won't escalate the problem; there won't be a problem
because there will be no more Ukraine.
Thank you very much, I yield back.
Chairman Royce. We go now to Lois Frankel of Florida.
Ms. Frankel. Thank you, Mr. Chair, and I was on that trip
with you and Mr. Engel when we went to Ukraine last year.
Thank you for your testimony. I want to say that I feel
anxiety when I hear some of my colleagues with their
unflattering remarks and I will tell you why. I have three
questions. When we were in Ukraine we heard--I am going to
follow up Mr. Cicilline's question because he was with us. We
heard time and time again how the corruption of the Ukrainian
Government undermined the government, created an environment
which I think you alluded to allowed Russia's aggression to
proceed, but it was not just the laws it was cultural, and so I
would like you to, if you could, expound.
The number one is, first of all, would you have even
considered giving weapons to the previous government,
Yanukovych, would you have considered that? And is the culture
or the corruption that was in Ukraine which you are waiting to
see if the reforms take place, how does that affect whether or
not you are willing to turn arms over now?
That is question number one.
Number two, could you tell me the sanctions on Russia, what
are the implications relative to the issues that we are facing
in Syria and Iran? Have there been any implications? And number
three, if you can get to it, can you tell us in your opinion
what are the implications on our allies and relative to the
Budapest Agreement if we do not resist Russia's aggression?
Ambassador Nuland. Well, the last one is a big one, so let
me just quickly go through the first ones. Our security
relationship with Ukraine has gone through ups and downs after
independence in '91 partly related to the quality of governance
at the top. In recent years under the Yanukovych regime it was
severely constrained not only because of our concerns about the
military but also because of our concerns about his human
rights record including with regard to Yulia Tymoshenko. So we
were doing very little.
With regard to our current cooperation, we are subject to
Leahy standards and appropriate vetting of units. One of the
major lines of effort that we have going in our advisory effort
with the Ukrainian military is to root out corruption and
infiltration of that military. So that is something that we
work on very hard.
We have, as Secretary Kerry has made clear when he was up
here and at every time he is before you, worked hard to
continue to be able to work with Russia on global interests
where our interests align. So that takes you to the work we do
together in the P5+1 on Iran. That cooperation continues not as
a favor by Moscow to the United States, but because they too
have no interest in a nuclear-armed Iran. Similarly our work on
Afghanistan, our work to try to come to terms with the violence
in Syria, which has not been completely successful, but those
conversations continue. So we judge that they do it out of
their own interests--not as a favor to us.
With regard to the threat to allies, we didn't talk today
but we have in the past about the intensive effort underway in
the NATO space to ensure that the Article 5 deterrent is
absolutely visible--land, sea and air. We have young Americans
as you know in the three Baltic states and Poland and soon in
Bulgaria and Romania showing presence. We are working on new
headquarters elements and other ways to be able to reinforce
them very quickly if we need to. But, obviously, if the
violence sweeps across Ukraine, if Ukraine breaks apart, falls,
et cetera, I personally don't think that the effort to gobble
countries will end there.
Ms. Frankel. And what, you said before the President is
taking, or considerations as to whether to give further weapons
or give weapons to Ukraine, what are the considerations?
Ambassador Nuland. Without getting into it in too detailed
a way in this setting, just to say again that we are giving a
significant amount of non-lethal security support defensive
weapons to the Ukrainians. The issue is whether to increase the
lethality. The issue is the kind of systems. On the one hand it
goes to the Ukrainian need and desire to defend against the
incredibly lethal offensive things that Russia has put in place
since January-February. On the other side it goes to whether
this actually serves to harden or whether it escalates and is
considered provocative and makes it worse.
Ms. Frankel. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Chairman Royce. Thank you. Let us see, I am going to yield
to the chair here, to Mr. Tom Emmer of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Would you like to--why don't you go ahead and chair this? I
have a meeting that I am late for.
Mr. Emmer [presiding]. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Madam Secretary, you have already answered quite a few
questions, but I want to run through something so you can clear
this up for me. The Minsk agreement, you have referenced what
Russia had agreed to implement. Could you please quickly tell
me what did they agree to implement and what have they
implemented since the agreement?
Ambassador Nuland. Thank you, Congressman. Well, first just
to remind that the February 12th agreement was an implementing
agreement on prior commitments made by both Russia and the
separatists on September 5th and September 19th.
Mr. Emmer. Right.
Ambassador Nuland. So the full package includes obligations
both for the Ukrainian side and for Russia and the separatists.
First and foremost, in the February 12th package, is a full
ceasefire on the fighting line; a full pullback of heavy
weapons to their ranges by both the Ukrainians and the Russians
and separatists; full access for OSCE monitors to that zone to
inspect and verify and to the rest of Ukraine. And then on the
Ukrainian side thereafter----
Mr. Emmer. Why don't we just stop on the Ukrainian side.
Ambassador Nuland. Yes, okay.
Mr. Emmer. Can you tell me if any of those three have
actually been done in the last 3 weeks, 4 weeks?
Ambassador Nuland. As I said at the outset, we have seen
some progress in some parts of the fighting line, but we are
Mr. Emmer. Madam Secretary, I am sorry but we are limited
on time. So again, the fighting has continued. There has been
Ambassador Nuland. It has.
Mr. Emmer. The heavy equipment has not been pulled back.
Ambassador Nuland. Not completely.
Mr. Emmer. And nobody is getting access as you said in
response to Representative Weber's questions to figure out what
the death totals are, et cetera, you just don't have access.
Funny how the fighting has continued after the most recent, the
February 12th, and you testified that the President is engaged
and that the, quote, deg. ``environment'' will affect
the calculus on the sanctions and the release of--and I am
tired of calling them defensive weapons. They are weapons,
weapons that the Ukrainians need to protect themselves. Russia
continues to violate agreement after agreement. Ukrainians
continue to die.
What about the current, quote, deg.
``environment'' needs to get worse before the President and his
advisers adjust their calculus? Because you had said what the
environment will determine whether we need to adjust the
calculus, what about the environment needs to get worse for the
Ukrainian people and for the stability in the region for this
administration to adjust its calculus?
Ambassador Nuland. Well, again we are watching the
implementation of this agreement. I don't disagree with you
that it is very spotty, and we are more concerned today than we
were yesterday by serious violations. The President is very
engaged. He talked, as you saw the White House release
yesterday, to five of his major European colleagues and to EU
Council President Tusk. We are watching this day-to-day and he
is evaluating day-to-day.
Mr. Emmer. You know what, Madam Secretary, that is
wonderful, and I am sure the Ukrainians appreciate the fact
that somebody is watching what is happening from this side of
the world. But when is it going to get bad enough that the
President and this administration are actually going to follow
through on promises that have been made to the Ukrainian
Ambassador Nuland. Well, again with regard to the promises
that have been made for strong economic support and for strong
security systems with your help----
Mr. Emmer. Well, I want to go back to if you disarm
yourself to maintain stability in the region and we will be
Ambassador Nuland. We will certainly convey your concern
about this, Congressman.
Mr. Emmer. Thank you.
The Chair will now recognize next Mr. Bill Keating of
Mr. Keating. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just want to thank
you for your work. I can only speak personally, but the
briefings that I have had including classified briefings with
you and with the Ambassador Pyatt have been extraordinary. The
communications are great. I want to thank you for that.
I also, I am going to deviate from my question, because at
least once in this hearing I think we have to put this
perspective in because it is reality. So many of the questions
have been unilateral. It is the U.S. It is Russia. It is U.S.
The reality is that is not where our strength is. The center of
gravity in all of this, I think, from a military perspective
was described by General Breedlove when he said our unity of
effort with the Europeans is that strength, and it is what
Putin didn't bank on. So I am going to give you the opportunity
to discuss how important the coalition is to the success of
It is my feeling that without that unity with the U.S. that
we are not going to be strong in our response and Ukraine won't
have the opportunity to move forward itself. So could you
comment on that? Because it is lost somewhere in today's
Ambassador Nuland. Well, thank you for that, Congressman. I
think I said earlier in the hearing that we in the European
Bureau spend almost as much time working with Europeans on
Ukraine as we do working with Ukrainians on Ukraine, because
this unity has been so essential and because that unity is
constantly being tested and probed by the Kremlin. Because if
they can split us, obviously that is their best line to imperil
So first and foremost, on the economic side where it has
been a combination of our strong transatlantic support for the
IFIs, our strong transatlantic contributions, both U.S. and
European, that have made the $17.5-billion package that we have
on offer for Ukraine possible now. Without that it wouldn't
In the four to five rounds of sanctions that we have done,
if the U.S. had done this unilaterally we would have had a
situation where European companies could have just come in and
backfilled. If we had not matched what Europe was willing to
do, the opposite would have been true or you could have seen
efforts to drive a wedge between us. We do believe that,
particularly in September and December, the Kremlin
underestimated both our unity and our ability to work together.
It is not always as quick as we would like because we have 29
countries to coordinate, 34 if you include our other allies in
NATO, but it does make us really strong in defense of Ukraine.
Mr. Keating. Yes, and when you look at Minsk and when you
look at the back end that we would not have preferred in terms
of Russia's border issues, and when we are having these other
discussions and these other questions about why can't the U.S.
just do this, simply do this, isn't it important that we do
this in a unified manner with Europe? And what would happen if
we didn't? What would happen if we just veered off the way some
of these questions have been pointed today on our own and just
done this? What would our prospects for success be
diplomatically and militarily?
Ambassador Nuland. Well, again it would have just provided
an opportunity for the Kremlin to divide us from major allies
like Germany and France. I mean one of the reasons that we
shout out Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande is that they
are the ones who spent the 17 hours of hard diplomatic work
with President Putin. And he had to hear that not only do we
disapprove of what is going on and have serious concerns, but
that all of Europe does too. And without that, he might have
felt he could get away with it.
Mr. Keating. Yes. I have my own feelings that I would like
to see defensive weapons in place myself, but I also can't have
this hearing and without commenting on the fact that we have to
do this with partners and it is a dynamic decision. And if we
move away from that we weaken ourselves.
With that I yield back, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Emmer. The gentleman yields back. The Chair now
recognizes Representative Grace Meng from New York.
Ms. Meng. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Ranking
Member. And thank you, Ambassador, for being here today. I have
a question. The Journal has been reporting on a $5.7-billion
deal this week between the German utility RWE AG and an energy
investment fund led by the Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman
in which the fund purchased RWE's oil and gas arm DEA.
This deal gives Mr. Fridman the assets to launch a new oil
company with assets throughout Europe. DEA produces about
100,000 barrels of oil per day. This is disconcerting for two
reasons. One it is the sort of business that we are supposed to
be deterring, and two, it provides for Russian control over
significant European energy supplies. Mr. Fridman is not
currently subject to U.S. sanctions despite his close ties with
the Kremlin. Do you know whether he is or he might be a
potential target for sanctions?
Ambassador Nuland. Thank you for that. I am going to get
back to you on some of the details, but just to make absolutely
clear that U.S. and European sanctions have targeted Russian
public and government assets and entities. Mr. Fridman runs one
of the few remaining private companies in Russia, and as such
has had his own strong views as a private citizen about
appropriate Russian-European relations.
But let me get back to you on how we have evaluated that
particular deal. But it is not a Russian Government deal. It
does not deepen the Russian Government's ties into the European
energy net or Europeans' dependence on the Russian Government.
Ms. Meng. Okay, thank you. My second question, a U.S. law
currently allows for the vesting of frozen assets pursuant to
IEEPA under certain circumstances. Such circumstances include
when the U.S. is directly engaged in conflict with another
country or when we have been attacked by another country. In
such cases, the President has the authority to make
designations of the frozen assets.
Should we consider broadening the law to allow for vesting
of frozen Ukrainian assets? Ukraine is in need of cash and this
would be a good way to get cash into the country.
Ambassador Nuland. Okay. I am going to admit you have
stumped the witness. I am going to take that one and look at it
with our Treasury colleagues.
Ms. Meng. Okay, great. Thank you. And my last question. I
would like to get your impression on Russian influence in
Europe. Russians own media properties in Great Britain, and
Russia has close ties with political parties in Britain and
France, mainly the U.K. Independence Party as well as the
National Front in France. We know of close German relationships
as well. Some of the ties such as the energy relationships are
clear, others are more in the shadows.
Can you shed some light on Russian influence in the
European media and finance sectors and give us a sense of who
in the Western European political landscape are close with the
Ambassador Nuland. Well, thank for that question. This is
something that we are watching extremely closely. I think the
Russian investments in government propaganda in Europe are
clear for everybody to see, the massive investment that their
new platform, Sputnik, has made in Germany and France, et
cetera. Interestingly, there has been quite a public backlash
in both Germany and France to the kind of propaganda Russia is
trying to sell, and the market share for that kind of effort
has not been as big as they hoped. Just as in the United
States, the market share for Russia today is relatively small
because people want truth not Kremlin fabrication.
That said, the more nefarious dirty money sloshing around
is what you highlight. This question of funding candidates and
political campaigns out of Kremlin coffers, setting up of false
NGOs to look like they are representatives of civil society but
really they are representatives of a foreign government's view,
we are watching all of this very closely with our allies and
working together to expose it and make sure that the public in
those countries knows where this money is coming from.
Mr. Emmer. The gentlewoman yields back. The Chair now
recognizes Mr. Ted Poe from Texas.
Mr. Poe. Thank the chairman.
Thank you, Ambassador, for being here. Like a lot of folks,
including you, I am concerned about Russian aggression. The
Russians go into Georgia in 2008, they take one third of that
country away from them, and the Russian tanks are still in that
third and they are not going to leave. The West pontificated
and said that that was bad, and meanwhile Putin is still there.
And Russia goes into Crimea, takes over Crimea. Now they are in
Eastern Europe. I believe when they successfully take over
eastern Ukraine they will keep moving, maybe to the Baltics.
Last year when you were here, May 8th, to be exact, I asked
you the purpose of U.S. sanctions. And the question, and I have
the transcript here if you want to see it, was is the purpose
of our sanctions to stop the Russians or is the purpose of our
sanctions to make the Russians leave Crimea? And you answered
that the purpose of our sanctions was to make the Russians
leave Crimea. Is that still the purpose of sanctions against
Russia regarding Crimea? To make them leave?
Ambassador Nuland. Yes, sir. We want Crimea restored to
Ukraine. We have designated sanctions vis-a-vis Crimea which as
you know we deepened significantly in December, essentially
denying U.S. companies the ability to invest in Crimea. Our
European partners have done the same. We talked a little bit
earlier in the hearing about the impact that that has had in
Crimea and we will continue to keep those in place unless and
Mr. Poe. So are the Russians leaving Crimea?
Ambassador Nuland. It has not resulted in changing Russian
policy. It has driven up the price for Crimea for the Russian
Mr. Poe. Well, that may be the sanctions. It may also be
the world price of oil has dropped, which is the main reason
for the Russian economy.
Are the Russians building military installations in Crimea?
Ambassador Nuland. Well, as you know the Russians have had
bases historically in Crimea.
Mr. Poe. Are they building more?
Ambassador Nuland. There is significant evidence to
indicate that they are putting new improvements into those
bases and new equipment. We can get you a classified briefing
if you would like.
Mr. Poe. So the sanctions at least haven't stopped Russian
building of military installations in Crimea. Are any of those
installations nuclear installations?
Ambassador Nuland. I think we would like to speak to you
about dual-use capability in a different setting, if I may.
Mr. Poe. Anyway they are building up their military
presence in Crimea.
Ambassador Nuland. Yes, sir.
Mr. Poe. That would seem to me like they are there to stay.
What do you think?
Ambassador Nuland. I think we have to maintain the pressure
and we have to maintain the cost. And we have to keep faith
with Ukraine so that it can continue to try to get its
Mr. Poe. Well, when I talked to the President of Ukraine
last year asking what we could do, he replied, paraphrasing,
that they would prefer that we send something other than canned
food to them, MREs, which is what we were doing. Are we still
talking about helping them fight for their own freedom in the
sense that we are giving them military aid? Are we still
talking about that or are we actually doing that?
Ambassador Nuland. Sir, we have over the last 14 months
provided $118 million in security assistance. I can give you a
rundown of what we have bought with that, but it includes
things like counterfire radar batteries, communications
equipment, counter jamming, full suite of emergency medical,
all those kinds of things, training. And we will continue to
look at what more we can do.
Mr. Poe. That is all non-lethal aid. We sending them any
Ambassador Nuland. No, sir.
Mr. Poe. Why not? That is what they want to defend
Ambassador Nuland. As I said, we have continued to look at
other requests from the Ukrainians including on the lethal side
but no decisions have been made.
Mr. Poe. So the Russians are now in eastern Ukraine besides
being in Crimea, which I do not think they are going to ever
try to leave Crimea. Other nations, and I am meeting some
Ambassadors today, are they concerned that they are next in the
Russian aggression? What is our policy regarding Russian
aggression, whether it is the Baltics or whether it is other
countries of the former Soviet Union? What is our policy to
thwart that? If we do have a policy.
Ambassador Nuland. Well, Congressman, I didn't go through
it in length in this testimony. I have in past testimonies. But
we are, with regard to NATO allies, starting with the decisions
taken at the Wales Summit in September which you now see
implemented, we are providing concrete visible reassurance to
our NATO allies all along the eastern edge on land, sea and
We have some 300 young Americans in the Baltics, in Poland.
We will have new deployments in Bulgaria and Romania. They are
exercising, et cetera. We are also working with those nations
to establish headquarters elements that will allow NATO forces
to move quickly in a contingency. We are standing up a very
high readiness NATO force. All of this designed----
Mr. Poe. Are we helping non-NATO countries----
Ambassador Nuland. We are as well. Just to say all of this
designed to make it absolutely clear to the Kremlin that we
will defend every inch of NATO territory and to set a
deterrent. We are also providing security assistance to Georgia
and to Moldova, the two countries most under threat, and
continuing the relationship with other countries in the region.
Mr. Poe. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Emmer. The gentleman's time is expired.
We appreciate the Ambassador's time this morning. As you
can tell, the committee is gravely concerned by the situation
and specifically the dismemberment of Ukraine. We can't wait
forever. We look forward to following up on these critical
And with that the hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 12:17 p.m., the committee was adjourned.]
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