Rep. Kinzinger: Ukraine Election Can't Be 'Last Step' for US, EU

Image: Rep. Kinzinger: Ukraine Election Can't Be 'Last Step' for US, EU

Tuesday, 27 May 2014 10:27 AM

By John Gizzi

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Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, one of the more vocal Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Newsmax he is "cautiously optimistic" about the outcome of Sunday's presidential election in Ukraine.

But Kinzinger quickly added that the landslide election of billionaire "chocolate king" Petro Poroshenko "can't be the last step" for the United States and the European Union in dealing with Ukraine.

Over the past year, Kinzinger has emerged as one of the leading voices for a stronger U.S. presence in international hot spots. Last summer, he was a vigorous proponent of action against the Assad regime in Syria, and more recently he has called for a hard line by the United States in dealing with the Russian presence in Ukraine.

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In calling for "strengthening our ties with Ukraine and encouraging stronger Ukrainian ties with Europe," Kinzinger said he is planning a trip to Ukraine at the end of next month.

A decorated U.S. Air Force veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, Kinzinger spoke to Newsmax after participating in Memorial Day ceremonies on Monday in Braidwood, Illinois.

"Poroshenko has been on a lot of different sides in Ukrainian politics, and I understand that," said Kinzinger, recalling how the president-elect once served in the regime of deposed pro-Kremlin President Viktor Yanukovych and later supported demonstrations by the Alliance Maidan marchers who were key to bringing down Yanukovych earlier this year.

Noting the significance of Poroshenko's election with a resounding 55 percent of the vote in a crowded field of candidates, Kinzinger said, "We cannot let this moment pass. The Russians surely won't back off, so it's very important we stay united with Poroshenko and help bring Ukraine into the Western fold.

"Ukraine has to stay on our radar, and we can't let our guard down," he said.

By that, Kinzinger explained, he means "strengthening U.S. ties with Ukraine and encouraging stronger Ukrainian ties to Europe. It's time to step up. We've defeated Russian Communism but not Russian nationalism."

Although Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a message of de-escalation regarding Eastern Ukraine, Kinzinger believes "the Russian military is still there disguised as separatists. The Ukrainian separatists don't have weapons like that. Putin is trying to lure the West into a false sense of security so he can re-integrate Ukraine into Russia through economic and political power."

In emphasizing that Ukraine "has made this an important time for Europe," Kinzinger said he has met with several members of parliament from different European countries to discuss the issue.

"They are depressed at the course the U.S. has taken in the last two years and in the last six years," he said. "They're careful how they choose their words, but I can say that while many of them still feel the U.S. was too aggressive in Iraq, they also say they are disappointed when they see what happens when the U.S. is not aggressive."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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