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Graham, Blumenthal meet with Zelensky in Kyiv

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) speak to reporters on designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism during a press conference in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, May 10, 2022.
Anna Rose Layden
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) speak to reporters on designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism during a press conference in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, May 10, 2022.

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Thursday to push for legislation that would classify Russia as a “state sponsor of terrorism.”

The bipartisan duo introduced a resolution in May seeking to make Russia the fifth addition to the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, joining North Korea, Iran, Syria and Cuba.

In late June, Zelensky called on the United Nations to designate Russia as a terrorist state.

“Bicameral and bipartisan support is really important for Ukraine. We feel it, we feel this unity,” Zelensky said, according to a report from the president’s office published on Thursday.

Both U.S. parties, he said, “support Ukraine very fundamentally,” as evidenced by the resolution, which Zelensky hopes “will be brought to fruition.”

Blumenthal mention the grisly images that emerged from Bucha following Russia’s withdrawal from the Kyiv region, saying, “If that isn’t terrorism, I don’t know what is,” in an interview with Reuters Thursday.

The proposal from Graham and Blumenthal calls on the secretary of State to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

“There’s no doubt in my mind, senator, that the Russians are terrorizing the Ukrainian people,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told senators in a hearing in April. “The question is this — and again, this is something that the lawyers are looking at — to make sure that we actually meet the statutory requirements of that designation.”

Zelensky also debriefed the senators Thursday about Russia’s latest attacks, with strikes hitting the Kharkiv and Donbas regions in eastern Ukraine on the same day of the senators’ visit.

The Ukrainian president said he hoped the meeting would help “our partners have accurate information about our defense needs” and stressed the importance of air defense to combat the ongoing attacks. 

The trio reportedly discussed using U.S. weapons systems to reclaim Russian-occupied territory in eastern Ukraine, using long-range artillery and hand-to-hand combat.

Last week, the Department of Defense unveiled an $820 million weapons package for Ukraine, which includes advanced air defense systems. The U.S. has committed $6.9 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24.

“The greater the defense aid to Ukraine is now, the sooner the war will end with our victory and the smaller will be the losses of all the countries of the world, the losses of the Untied States from Russian pressure on democratic societies,” Zelensky said in his daily address to Ukrainians.

Both Graham and Blumenthal supported Zelensky’s call for increased weaponry during their meeting, according to Reuters.

“We have a chance here in the next 60 days … the decisions we make can turn the tide of this war in favor of Ukraine,” Graham reportedly said.

Tags Antony Blinken Cuba Iran Kharkiv Kyiv Lindsay Graham Lindsey Graham North Korea Richard Blumenthal Richard Blumenthal Russia russia Russia-Ukraine war russian invasion of ukraine State sponsor of terrorism Syria ukraine Ukraine United States Volodymyr Zelensky Volodymyr Zelensky Washington D.C.
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