Gerlach calls for U.S. military aid to Ukraine

Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) recently called on President Obama to support Ukrainian efforts to deter pro-Russian separatists with military aid, equipment and weaponry.

Gerlach, a co-chairman of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, called for additional U.S. support after the downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet claimed 300 civilian lives in eastern Ukraine, according to a press release.

“The president’s response (on Friday) to this reckless act of violence was tepid, and it is clear to anyone paying attention that the White House’s attempt to hit the reset button with Russia has failed miserably,” Gerlach said. “(July 17) was a wake-up call that pro-Russian rebels have the firepower to shoot planes from the sky and pose a grave threat to the security and stability of Ukraine and the region. The government of Ukraine has every right to defend its sovereignty and its citizens.”

Gerlach said the passenger jet’s downing demonstrated that pro-Russian separatists had received “significant” military aid from Russia.

“Russia’s intent is clear,” Gerlach said. “They are attempting to destabilize a neighboring, sovereign country and expand Russian influence in Ukraine and beyond. By providing direct military aid, the U.S. will help Ukraine neutralize Russia’s influence and eliminate the military-support advantage pro-Russian forces are now using to take aim at civilian and military aircraft in eastern Ukraine. If the U.S. fails to contain the enormous threat within Ukraine, the risk for violence, bloodshed and chaos expanding beyond Ukraine grows.”

Gerlach said the United States needs to ensure that Ukraine has the necessary military assets to eliminate the threat posed by pro-Russian separatists and regain control of Ukrainian air space.