Portman Statement Regarding Call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky

May 5, 2021 | Press Releases

CINCINNATI, OH — U.S. Senator Rob Portman issued the following statement today regarding a call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky:

“Today I had an excellent call with Ukraine President Zelensky. We reaffirmed our commitment to our strategic security partnership and he expressed his appreciation for the bipartisan support in Congress for Ukraine’s security interests.

“President Zelensky also briefed me on the continued Russian threat, including the number of their troops and equipment remaining after their pullout. It is clear from our call that Russia remains a threat to Ukraine’s sovereignty. For this reason, I firmly support a NATO Membership Action Plan for Ukraine and continued robust security assistance from the US and our Allies.

“In addition, President Zelensky pledged his continued commitment to reforming his economy, justice system and military systems and indicated he understands that doing so is important in order to continue to marshal the support of the United States and our allies.

“Finally, I am encouraged by the Biden administration’s support for Ukraine but believe they must cut through the red tape and expedite the process of providing key military capabilities such as counter-drone, counter sniper, anti-air and maritime assets to Ukraine in order to counter the continued Russian threat.”

NOTE: In May of 2019, after a historic free and open election, Senator Portman met with President Zelensky and other senior Ukrainian officials to further the strategic US/Ukrainian partnership. Senator Portman, who received the Order of Merit from former President Petro Poroshenko during his visit to Ukraine in 2018 and received the Ukrainian-American community’s highest honor in 2016, the Shevchenko Freedom Award, has long led the effort in the Senate to provide Ukraine the kind of assistance necessary to ward off Russian aggression and maintain its territorial integrity. The co-founder and co-chairman of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, Portman has visited Ukraine several times. In addition to his meeting with President Zelensky in 2019, he traveled to the eastern part of Ukraine in April 2018 to see firsthand evidence of Russian aggression on the line of contact. In 2014 he led a congressional election observation mission with Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) during Ukraine’s Presidential election in 2014.

For the past five years, Portman has successfully championed language in the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that expanded U.S. military aid to Ukraine, while strongly encouraging the Ukrainian government to continue their efforts in eliminating corruption and continuing with much needed security sector reforms. These provisions helped build the primary statutory framework for U.S. security assistance to Ukraine, the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. In addition, he has repeatedly written letters, delivered multiple floor speeches, and pressed senior Trump administration officials on the importance of providing meaningful assistance to help Ukraine stand up to Russia’s military aggression, and has praised its decisions to provide lethal assistance to the country. Portman has continued this course with the Biden Administration.

For his efforts to support Ukraine, Portman was recognized with the Order Of St. Volodymyr Medal from Ukrainian Patriarch Filaret. Portman also championed the bipartisan resolution marking the 85th anniversary of the Holodomor, passed by the Senate in October 2018. In April of this year, Portman applauded Senate Foreign Relations Committee passage of the Ukraine Security Partnership Act of 2021 (S. 814), which included his bipartisan amendment to provide $50 million in non-military assistance to Ukraine.