Tuesday morning, the Lugar Diplomacy Institute hosted former Senator Richard G. Lugar and a group of more than a dozen European ambassadors to discuss the ongoing situation in Ukraine. Lugar, a former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called for a broad "diplomatic offensive" to counter Russian aggression in Ukraine. "Crisis brings opportunity. The opportunity today is to expand the transatlantic alliance," Lugar said.
"The transatlantic alliance must come together to answer the call for support of friendly countries at Russia's border," he continued. "To start, the United States and our allies should act decisively to expand NATO membership and prioritize resolution of so-called 'frozen conflicts' that Russia has propagated for years. We also can extract an economic penalty for aggression through enhancing global trade in natural gas."
Lugar has a long history of engagement with Ukraine:
- In 1992, he led a mission with former Senator Sam Nunn to help convince Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk to dismantle nuclear weapons, which subsequently occurred through the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program.
- In 2004, at the start of the Orange Revolution, he undertook a mission to Ukraine to promote free elections.
- In 2005, he led a mission with then-Senator Barack Obama ahead of the first Russian gas cut-off. Subsequently, Lugar led the Congressional effort to expand diplomatic attention to energy in the region, including new pipelines. He introduced the first bill to allow U.S. liquefied natural gas to European allies in November 2012.