Dear Mr. President,
With Russia increasing its military presence on the Ukrainian border, by some estimates to as many as 40,000 troops and heavy weapons, there is growing concern that Russia could soon invade. Indeed, the Secretary General of NATO has said he believes there is now "high probability" of such an invasion. Moreover, the tragic loss of 298 innocent lives aboard Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, by a Russian surface-to-air missile system in eastern Ukraine's rebel-controlled territory, shows that Moscow continues to fuel the separatist movement in eastern Ukraine and possesses no qualms about violating Ukrainian sovereignty.
In the face of this disturbing escalation in the conflict, we appreciate your leadership in mustering another round of strong international sanctions against Russia and in sending tens of millions of dollars in non-lethal military assistance to Kiev, including much-needed night-vision goggles, body armor and first aid kits, and other military equipment. In our own meetings with Ukrainian officials in Washington and Kiev, we have heard their appeals for this support firsthand. However, we have also heard pleas that have thus far gone unanswered. We are writing now to request that you take immediate action to intensify U.S. support to enhance the ability of the democratically-elected government of Ukraine to defend its people and its territory against Russian aggression.
While the Ukrainian military is better armed than their rebel opponents, Kiev has identified critical needs to help them counter rebel capabilities gained through the flow of Russian support to the separatists. President Putin, undeterred by international condemnation, has provided heavy weapons to separatists, including tracked and armored vehicles and the advanced missile and radar systems that took down MH-17. In light of these developments, we should supply the Ukrainian military with appropriate defensive weapons such as anti-tank weapons to help them reclaim their territory. This will help permit the Ukrainian government to address the worsening humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine's rebel-controlled territories. Additionally, effective utilization of defensive weapons to counter the rebels and deter a possible Russian invasion relies on possessing current and accurate intelligence. We encourage you to provide appropriate intelligence to Ukraine to ensure it has the necessary support to counter effectively a rebel force wholly dependent on Russian backing.
We must stand decisively in support of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The future of Ukraine should be determined in Kiev, not Moscow. Our enhanced support will send a strong message to President Putin that efforts to expand or cement Russia's influence through foreign aggression will not succeed and that Russian-backed rebels must resolve their political differences through the peaceful means offered in good faith by their democratic government.
We look forward to prompt action on this matter to support the Ukrainian people in their time of need.