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

KIEV, UKRAINE — U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) visited Ukraine this week, meeting with Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko and other Ukrainian leaders, think tank and other thought leaders, and visited a forward combat outpost near the line of contact in Donetsk to see firsthand evidence of Russian aggression on the Eastern border.  Portman, who received the Order of Merit from President Poroshenko during his visit, has led efforts in the U.S. Senate to provide assistance to Ukraine, and this is his third visit to the country as he works to strengthen ties between the two countries and support Ukrainian efforts to defend itself from Russian aggression.  He issued the following statement on his two-day visit:

“I appreciated the opportunity to visit Ukraine, meet with President Poroshenko and other Ukrainian leaders, and visit Ukrainian troops at a forward combat outpost near the line of contact in Donetsk.  As Russian aggression in Eastern Ukraine persists, it is important to reaffirm that the United States stands firmly with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in their struggle to defend their independence and territorial integrity.  As someone who has worked hard in the Senate to highlight the importance of ongoing events in Ukraine and increase U.S. military, political, and economic support to the country, I remain fully committed to strengthening this relationship even further and look forward to working with the Ukrainian government in the future.

“The Ukrainian government has done more in the past four years to fight endemic corruption and unaccountable governance than any other Ukrainian government did in the 25 years since Ukraine regained its independence.  However, it is absolutely critical that progress not stall. Ukraine must demonstrate its commitment to long-term structural reform by meeting the reform conditions that will ensure continued Western financial assistance, further Ukraine’s goal of strategic alignment with the United States and NATO, and secure enduring political support from the United States, the European Union, the IMF, and other Western nations and institutions.

“I presented President Poroshenko with a copy of the original legislation establishing the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative that I worked with Senator McCain to pass back in 2015. The long-overdue but welcome decision by the Trump administration to provide defensive lethal assistance is the culmination of years of hard work by both Ukrainians and Americans, and I hope to see the timely delivery of this assistance very soon. I hope that this gift serves as reminder that all this hard work to strengthen the ties between us is worth it. America stands by its friends, and with the full implementation of this legislation, the United States will finally make good on its promise to Ukraine.”  

NOTE: During his visit to Eastern Ukraine, Portman visited forward Ukrainian military positions near the line of contact and received information from Ukrainian commanders on the current state of play of the four-year old conflict with Russian-led separatist forces. In Kyiv, Portman met with senior Ukrainian officials including President Poroshenko, Foreign Minister Klimkin, Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) Andriy Parubiy, Defense Minister Poltarak, Chief of Defense General Muzhenko, and civil society activists and business leaders. During his meetings, Senator Portman reaffirmed the United States’ strong support Ukraine, commended the Ukrainian government for its progress on some reforms, and urged the government to press ahead with the implementation of critical structural reforms needed to meet Western aid conditions. Portman received the Order of Merit from President Poroshenko during his visit.

Portman, who 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 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 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.  The FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report authorizes $350 million in security assistance, including lethal and non-lethal equipment, training, and technical assistance. 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 country.

Photos from his visit to Ukraine are below: