Senate

Senators meet with members of Ukrainian Parliament

The Senate Ukraine Caucus was briefed by Ukrainian lawmakers on Wednesday to discuss the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, now in its second month, and how lawmakers could further assist the former Soviet state.

“The barbaric actions of Vladimir Putin have forced nearly 4 million Ukrainians to flee their country,” Senate Ukraine Caucus co-chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who hosted the meeting along with fellow co-chair Rob Portman (R-Ohio), said in a statement.

“The resilience of the Ukrainian people is unparalleled and deserves sustained American support. Today’s meeting reinforced our strong relations and we will continue to work with our European allies to further tighten the economic pressure on Putin, welcome Ukrainian refugees, and much more,”  he added.

The senators met with Ukrainian Parliament members Lesia Zaburanna, Yevheniya Kravchuk, Anastasia Radina and Maria Ionova in addition to Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova and Polish lawmakers. 

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-N.H.) office noted that the senator, who was among those who met with Ukrainian lawmakers on Wednesday, had co-hosted a meeting for European ambassadors with Durbin earlier in March. 

“Our meeting today addressed a number of critical concerns, particularly the urgency of the need for additional military assistance and broader application of sanctions,” Shaheen said in a statement about the Wednesday meeting.

“I’ll use my role as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee that oversees Europe to ensure the urgent asks made to the Caucus today are raised to the highest level,” she added.

The development comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke with senators during a Zoom meeting earlier this month and addressed Congress later in March. 

In his virtual address to Congress at the time, he reiterated his push for a no-fly zone, an idea that has been met with opposition from the U.S. amid concerns of escalating conflict between the country and Russia. 

A bipartisan group of senators wrote to White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Tuesday asking for specifics on defense aid provided to Ukraine and its delivery status, among other inquiries. 

“America’s commitments to Ukraine and to our NATO allies demand we expedite the delivery of weapons and capabilities to our allies and partners; Ukraine can win this fight if we help them win this fight,” the senators wrote.

“Above all else, our commitment to our allies and partners keeps Americans prosperous and keeps our families safe.”

A White House National Security Council spokesperson told The Hill that “Deliveries of our security assistance are occurring daily, and we are expediting shipments as quickly as possible to get the Ukrainians even more of the weapons they are using so effectively to defend their country.”

Updated 3:46 p.m.

Tags Dick Durbin Jake Sullivan Jeanne Shaheen Rob Portman Senate Ukraine Caucus Vladimir Putin Volodymyr Zelensky

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