“We write with grave concern and urgency over the flagrant Russian violation of the February 12, Minsk agreement,” the senators said in the letter issued on Friday. “It is time to provide defensive weapons to Ukraine and to consider imposing additional sanctions and penalties that will increase the cost of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s actions.”
The signees are four Democrats — Dick Durbin, Bill Nelson, Richard Blumenthal and Jeanne Shaheen; and six Republicans — John McCain, Rob Portman, Ron Johnson, Mark Kirk, Pat Toomey and Kelly Ayotte.
Russian-backed forces ignored the call for a ceasefire and continued a “brazen military offensive against thousands of besieged Ukrainian forces in Debaltseve,” the senators said in the letter.
“As such, we can only conclude that in the absence of greater Western support for Ukrainian forces, a Russian-imposed military outcome will continue to unfold in Ukraine,” they added.
Major clashes between Ukrainian security forces and independence supporters continued in Debaltseve despite a ceasefire agreement that was supposed to go into effect on February 15.
On Friday, parliamentarians from more than 50 Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) member states discussed the possible deployment of international peacekeepers to eastern Ukraine to complement the OSCE monitors’ work.
On February 12, the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France met in Minsk and agreed to a set of measures aimed at stopping the military confrontation between Kiev forces and independence supporters in eastern Ukraine, which included a ceasefire, prisoner swap and the removal of heavy weaponry.