U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has just returned from a visit to Ukraine.
He went with seven other senators on Thursday night. While there, he met with members of the interim government and their head of security. He then came back Sunday morning, and talked about his trip at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Chicago.
He said the U.S. military will not be sent in, but he said we are offering support to a desperate Ukrainian military. “They are asking for us to provide them – for the United States to provide them – the most basics. They are asking for sleeping bags, food, fuel, tires. Basic things that you would need, communications equipment, it just isn’t there,” he said.
He also said the non-lethal aid the U.S. is providing may have to be stepped up to include full-scale military assistance.
– Durbin says Russian President Vladimir Putin is an empire builder who must be stopped in Ukraine, otherwise the independence of other small former Soviet socialist republics is in peril.
– He says the must take action, and among the actions would be to freeze the assets of wealthy Russians that are held in U.S. banks, to the tune of $500 billion. He says the oligarchs to whom that money belongs can pressure the Russian government to back off Ukraine.
– As for the election Sunday in which Crimea voted to join Russia, Durbin says it was not a free and fair election, and the results should not be considered an accurate representation of the views of the people.