The legislation follows Senator Wicker, six other Senators’ visit to Kyiv where they met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
On Thursday, U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), introduced the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act.
The bill seeks to protect Ukrainian civilians from a potential Russian invasion by providing military equipment necessary to protect vulnerable civilian populations from a Russian military invasion.
“The U.S. should be doing everything possible to assist our friends in Ukraine against Vladimir Putin’s shameless and illegal aggression,” Senator Wicker said. “Expanding the United States’ ability to lend and lease critical equipment and capabilities would be an effective way to empower the Ukrainian people to fight and win against a strong Russian force. We need an overwhelming bipartisan vote and a presidential signature on this legislation without delay.”
In addition to streamlining the President’s current authority to lend the defense articles necessary to defend civilian populations in Ukraine, this legislation would require the President to certify to the appropriate congressional committee that any military equipment provided under this authority is necessary to protect vulnerable civilian populations.
The Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act would require the President or his designee to establish expedited delivery procedures for any military equipment loaned or leased to Ukraine to ensure timely delivery to Ukraine. It also categorizes any cyberattack on major critical infrastructure originating from within Russia against Ukraine to be treated as an armed attack by Russia.
The legislation would remain in effect until Russia restores its troops’ presence on the Ukraine border to pre-March 2021 levels.
The introduction of this legislation comes after Senator Wicker joined other U.S. Senators for a meeting in Ukraine with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The visit was a part of a bipartisan Congressional Delegation (CODEL) to Ukraine.
The Senators expressed strong solidarity with Ukraine in the face of increased Russian aggression and expressed their deep concern over the buildup of Russia’s forces in and around Ukraine.
Wicker stood beside Senate Republicans in a press conference on Wednesday to urge a firm response to Vladimir Putin’s shameless aggression against Ukraine.
“We need to be an integral part of doing more than has already been announced. And we need to make sure that if Vladimir Putin takes this step and makes this mistake for his countrymen, and this mistake against his neighbors, it will be a mistake that he will long regret and long remember,” Wicker said.