Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday as Russia’s invasion of the country drags into its seventh month.
The pair of senators also met with Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov and other senior Ukrainian leaders. They said they traveled to the war-torn country to see Russia’s invasion firsthand, and to reaffirm the U.S.’s commitment to Ukraine, NATO and other allies in the area.
“Our trip to Kyiv not only offered the opportunity to witness the steadfast resolve of the people but also the leadership of President Zelenskyy and his team,” Portman, co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.
“Now more than ever the United States must stand with our ally Ukraine to send the message to Russia and the world that we will not stand by while sovereign countries are invaded. Ukraine deserves to be free and we will not stop until Russian troops are out of Ukraine,” he added.
Klobuchar said her and Portman traveled to Ukraine and met with top officials “to discuss the status of the war and America’s ongoing economic, humanitarian, and military assistance” and the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which has been hit by artillery shells amid the conflict.
The area where the plant is located has been captured by Russian troops, but Ukrainian engineers are still operating it. A group of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is set to visit the power plant this week to evaluate physical damage to the facility, staff conditions, safety and security systems.
Zelensky said he was “pleased” to welcome Portman and Klobuchar to Ukraine, calling the visit “extremely valuable.”
“The development of the situation at the front was discussed in detail. I am grateful to the United States for the security assistance! It should be continued and increased. This is important for the victory of Ukraine,” he added in a statement on Telegram.
The senators’ visit to Ukraine came days after the country’s Independence Day, Aug. 24, which fell on the six-month mark of the conflict with Russia.
The country’s celebration was muted this year, though captured war machines were put on display.
Portman and Klobuchar also visited Bucha and Irpin, where Russia has been accused of committing war crimes, in addition to the Hostomel Airport, which Ukraine recaptured amid the conflict.
“The courage and bravery of the Ukraine people in the face of unjust Russian aggression is always encouraging from afar but even more inspiring to see it firsthand,” Portman wrote in a statement on Tuesday.
President Biden last week, on Ukraine’s Independence Day, announced a security assistance package worth almost $3 billion to support Kyiv as the Russian invasion continues.