January 26, 2021

Duckworth Commends President Biden for Defending Our Troops, Calling Out Russia’s Reported Bounty Program Targeting U.S. Troops During First Call with Putin


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — Combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) who served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years, today released the following statement commending President Biden for, during his first call as President with Vladimir Putin, standing up for our troops and calling out a reported Russian program that put bounties on U.S. servicemembers’ lives. After the bounty program was first publicly reported on June 26, 2020, Duckworth repeatedly called on then-President Donald Trump to take any public action to hold Russia accountable, but the Trump administration took no public action despite multiple calls with Putin before leaving office.

“At the first opportunity, President Joe Biden called out Vladimir Putin for reportedly putting bounties on the heads of our brave servicemembers in Afghanistan,” said Duckworth. “After more than 100 days of silence from Donald Trump, it’s a relief to have a Commander in Chief who cares about our troops and military families—and who shows how much he values their service by taking swift action to stand up for them. The brave men and women who our nation sends into harm’s way overseas deserve nothing less.”

For months, Duckworth pressed the previous administration for information in response to reports that Donald Trump knew for months that Russia was secretly offering bounties to militants for the killing of American troops. Duckworth called for an open hearing in the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced legislation, spoke on the Senate floor, penned an op-ed and led her colleagues in calling on the Trump administration to condemn Vladimir Putin on these reports after over 100 days of silence. She also wrote to former Defense Secretary Esper asking him to determine whether any U.S. servicemember deaths are connected to the alleged Russian bounty program and confirm that DoD is tracking any concurrent or completed intelligence community investigations into those casualties.