A group of Democratic and Republican senators on Thursday introduced a resolution recognizing Russia’s actions in Ukraine as genocide, a symbolic yet powerful signal of bipartisan support for the U.S. and international community to put an end to the violence and hold perpetrators responsible.
The resolution is led by Sens. Jim Risch (Idaho), the top Republican the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Ben Cardin (Md.), the second-ranking Democrat on the panel.
“There is no question that what Russia is doing in Ukraine is a genocide,” Risch said in a statement.
“If you could walk the streets of Kyiv, Irpin and Hostomel like I did last month, and listen to the stories of what the Russian soldiers have done, this is a genocide. The international community is documenting the many Russian abuses that constitute war crimes across Ukraine. It’s time the United States and the world recognize it as such.”
Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are co-sponsors of the resolution.
The resolution condemns Russia for committing what it says are acts of genocide against the people of Ukraine and supports tribunals and international criminal investigations to hold Russian political leaders and military personnel accountable for a war of aggression, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
“Russia is trying to eviscerate not just the people and the buildings of Ukraine, but also they are trying to eliminate the Ukrainian language, Ukrainian history and Ukrainian culture,” Cardin said in a statement. “This is genocide. The world must recognize this fact and those responsible must be held accountable.”
The resolution further calls on the U.S., along with NATO and the European Union to “support the government of Ukraine to prevent further acts of Russian genocide against the Ukrainian people.”
Ukrainians are calling on the U.S. and allies to send more weaponry, and send it faster, to Ukraine, seeing it as the most meaningful support to prevent Russian acts of genocide.
Ukrainian parliamentarian Oleksiy Goncharenko, testifying in front of lawmakers Wednesday in a hearing of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, said the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide outlines that “it is the responsibility of every country on the planet, to do everything as possible to stop it, as soon as possible. In Ukrainian case, it means give us weaponry.”
“What is now done by Russia is a genocide and I assure you and encourage you to adopt these bills that you so kindly sponsored and presented as soon as possible,” Goncharenko said, referring to the Senate resolution.
President Biden and some of his top officials have described Russia’s actions in Ukraine as genocide, but the State Department has yet to issue a formal declaration, which would likely trigger concrete action by the international community.
The lawmakers sponsoring the genocide resolution are strong proponents of U.S. assistance and support for Ukraine in its nearly five-month fight against Russia’s offensive. A vote on the resolution would further put on the record lawmakers that are supportive of U.S. assistance to Ukraine versus a small but provocative minority that hold opposing views.
On Monday, 18 House Republicans voted against a resolution supporting Finland and Sweden’s ascension to NATO, the expanding alliance viewed as a rebuke of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
In May, 11 GOP senators and 57 House Republicans voted against a $40 billion aid package related to supporting Ukraine against Russia.