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More Than Two Dozen U.S. Senators Urge Trump To Stay Firm On Russia Sanctions

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has signaled that he wants to take a more conciliatory approach toward Russia and cast doubt on the necessity of NATO (file photo). 

WASHINGTON -- More than two dozen U.S. senators have urged U.S. President-elect Donald Trump not to weaken sanctions targeting Russia for its actions in Crimea and elsewhere in Ukraine.

In a December 8 letter signed by 27 Democrats and Republicans, the senators also called on Trump to authorize the supply of lethal weaponry to Ukraine, something that outgoing President Barack Obama's administration has refused to do.

"In light of Russia's continued aggression and repeated refusal to respect Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereign right to choose its own destiny, we also renew our call for the United States to increase political, economic, and military support for Ukraine," they wrote.

The letter was issued hours after Congress finalized a massive defense bill that includes millions of dollars in military assistance and support for Ukraine.

Trump, who takes office on January 20, has signaled he wants a more conciliatory approach toward Russia and cast doubt on the necessity of NATO.

Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in March 2014 after mass demonstrations forced Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to flee.

Moscow later backed separatists in eastern Ukraine with support that Kyiv and the West say includes heavy weaponry and military personnel.

At least 9,700 people have been killed the conflict between Kyiv's forces and the separatists since April 2014, according to the UN.

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