Portman Visits Ukraine, Meets Newly-Elected President, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces and Business Leaders

Portman Has Led Senate Efforts to Support Ukraine in its Struggle Against Russian Aggression, Pursue Coordinated Strategy to Defend America, Allies Against Propaganda and Disinformation

May 31, 2019 | Press Releases

KYIV, UKRAINE — U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), co-founder and co-chairman of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, visited Ukraine to meet with newly-elected Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Ruslan Khomchak, Minister of Finance Oksana Markarova, and other Ukrainian leaders.  During his meetings, Portman congratulated the new government on their peaceful, free, and fair elections, pledged continued support from the U.S. Senate, and encouraged them to continue the anti-corruption efforts and structural reforms of the economy and the military.  While meeting with Ukrainian business leaders and the American Chamber of Commerce, Portman stressed the importance of creating an environment in Ukraine that encourages investment and the growth of local business and industries.  

During his visit, Portman laid a wreath at the Holodomor Memorial and Museum, paying respect to the millions of Ukrainians who were deliberately starved to death under Communist Russian rule during the 1930s. He also laid a wreath at the Memorial Hall for Defenders of Ukraine, paying tribute to the 4,000 Ukrainian soldiers who have lost their lives in the ongoing conflict with Russian-backed separatists and Russian forces in eastern Ukraine. He released the following statement:

“I was honored to meet with President Zelensky, the newly-elected President of Ukraine.  We discussed many subjects, including furthering the already strong ties between our countries, the conflict with Russia, and his positive agenda to fight corruption, improve the economy and move the country forward.  I assured him that as the co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I will continue to support a free and democratic Ukraine through U.S. military, political, and economic assistance. 

“It was also a pleasure to meet the new Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, General Khomchak.  The Ukrainian military has fought bravely against Russian aggression in the Donbas and has made tremendous strides toward their goal of standardization of their tactics and equipment in order to one day be admitted to NATO.  I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to ensure the Ukrainian military has the capabilities it needs to defend its sovereign territory—on the land, sea, and air.  I stand with the people of Ukraine and the international community to call for the release of the illegally detained sailors who were fired on and captured by Russian forces in international waters on November 25, 2018.

“The Ukrainian economy has made strides over the past five years as the government has undertaken significant structural reforms to reduce corruption and create an environment that welcomes investment.  But there is more to do.  After my meeting with Minister of Finance Markarova and the U.S./Ukraine Business Council and Chamber of Commerce, I am encouraged that Ukraine is on the right track.”

NOTE:  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, including in April 2018 to see firsthand evidence of Russian aggression on the line of contact and leading a congressional election observation mission with Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) during Ukraine’s Presidential election in 2014.

For the past three years, Portman has successfully introduced amendments to the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that expanded U.S. military aid to Ukraine. 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 administration officials on the importance of providing meaningful assistance to help Ukraine stand up to Russia’s military aggression, and has praised its recent decisions to provide lethal assistance to the country.

Portman joined the international community in condemning the sham “elections” that were held in Russian-controlled Eastern Ukraine last November. Later that month, when ships belonging to the Russian security services attacked three Ukrainian Navy vessels near the Kerch Strait, Portman led 11 of his Senate Ukraine Caucus colleagues in condemning this unprovoked aggression.

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.

Photos from his visit to Ukraine are below:  

Portman meets with newly-elected Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky


Portman views statue in Ukraine
Portman lays wreath at Ukraine Memorial


Portman meets with Chief of Staff of the Ukraine Armed Forces Ruslan Khomchak