A bipartisan group of senators is traveling to Ukraine this week to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials amid escalating tensions between Kyiv and Moscow.
Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) announced the trip on Monday. They said they are traveling to Ukraine and holding discussions “to reaffirm the U.S.’ commitment to Ukraine, which continues to face an increasingly belligerent Russia.”
Meetings with Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials were slated for Monday, according to a statement from the senators.
The development comes as U.S. officials are warning that Russia is continuing to levy threats of war against Ukraine, even after a series of diplomatic meetings over the past week that aimed to quell tensions and avoid a conflict.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan on Thursday said Moscow was planning a “false flag” operation it will point to as a pretext for when it sets off an offensive against Ukraine. More than 100,000 Russian troops have already amassed on the eastern border of Ukraine.
Monday’s announcement also came after Microsoft announced on Saturday that dozens of computer systems connected to Ukrainian agencies, organizations and the government had been infected with malware. Ukrainian authorities have since blamed Russia for the breach.
A group of more than 20 lawmakers, including some members of the senators who will meet with Zelensky, spoke with the Ukrainian president last month during a video call. Earlier in December, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) led a bipartisan delegation to Ukraine.
Portman, the co-chairman of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, emphasized the importance of supporting Ukraine in Monday’s announcement.
“Ukraine continues to defend its territorial integrity against an increasingly aggressive Russia, while also striving to enact critical domestic reforms to solidify its democracy – it is more important than ever that the U.S. support Ukraine in its efforts,” Portman said in a statement.
“I look forward to reaffirming this commitment during our upcoming discussions with senior Ukrainian officials,” he added.