Sens. McCain, Murphy to travel to Ukraine

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) are traveling to Ukraine this weekend amid growing international concern over protests there and the crackdown on the protestors.

“Senator McCain is traveling to Kiev to meet with government officials, opposition leaders and civil society as they work to determine their country's future," said Brian Rogers, a spokesman for McCain. 

McCain is flying there Friday night and Murphy will join him Sunday. The trip was first reported by The Daily Beast.

ADVERTISEMENT
The protests began when the Ukrainian government backed off a major trade agreement with the European Union in late November, a sign that it was aligning itself more with Russia. Riot police have beaten protestors and used tear gas against them.

McCain indicated in a statement Wednesday that he was firmly on the side of the protestors. "We will keep the world's attention on Ukraine's struggle for freedom, justice, and opportunity, and we will demand consequences for any crimes perpetrated against Ukrainians who are peacefully exercising their fundamental human rights," he said.

Murphy, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee on European Affairs, also had strong words for Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich upon his decision not to sign accords with the EU.

“We have been very clear with President Yanukovich about the choice his government is making about the consequences of turning away from a relationship with Europe and the United States,” Murphy said on Dec. 4. “If President Yanukovich is truly committed to democracy he would be wise to weigh heavily the will of his people and reconsider this decision.”

The senators are the highest-ranking U.S. officials to travel to Ukraine since the protests began. Vice President Biden called Yanukovich Monday and “noted that violence has no place in a democratic society and is incompatible with our strategic relationship,” according to a White House readout of the call.