Sens. Portman and Klobuchar meet with Zelensky in Ukraine
Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said they met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Tuesday to "reaffirm the U.S. commitment" to the nation.
Why it matters: Last week marked six months since Russian forces invaded Ukraine. The meeting comes as Ukraine and its Western allies consider their strategy for the next phase of the war against Russia, which now occupies one-fifth of the country.
Details: The bipartisan trip included visits to Bucha and Irpin, where Russian atrocities led to calls to label Russia's actions genocide. They also visited Hostomel Airport, the site of a key Ukrainian victory early on in the invasion.
- The two senators sit in an hourlong meeting with Zelensky and Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, according to a release from their office.
- It was their third trip to Ukraine this year.
What they're saying: "Now more than ever the United States must stand with our ally Ukraine to send the message to Russia and the world that we will not stand by while sovereign countries are invaded," Portman said in a statement.
- "Ukraine deserves to be free and we will not stop until Russian troops are out of Ukraine."
- "In the face of Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked barbarism, we must continue to support the Ukrainian people in their fight for democracy," Klobuchar said in a statement that noted the "pressing" need for the International Atomic Energy Agency to access the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
- The Ukrainian people "will not be beaten down by Putin’s evil, and the U.S. and our allies must continue to support Ukraine as it stands up to Russia."
Worth noting: Zelensky said in a Telegram post that the "bipartisan and bicameral support of Congress is extremely valuable to us."
- He expressed gratitude for the security assistance from the U.S. and said it should be "continued and increased."
- He also called on global leaders to intensify sanctions on Russia, including visa restrictions for citizens of the Russian Federation.
The big picture: Ukrainian forces launched what appears to be their first major counter-offensive of the war on Monday, aiming to retake Kherson in the south of the country, Axios' Dave Lawler reports.
- The Biden administration recently announced $775 million in new military aid for Ukraine.