Senators meet with Ukraine President Zelensky, reaffirm US support

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Senators meet with Ukraine President Zelensky, reaffirm US support

A bipartisan group of senators met with President Volodymyr Zelensky and other Ukraine government officials Monday to reaffirm US support amid a military standoff with Russia. 

The delegation includes four Democrats (Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire) and three Republicans (Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota and Roger Wicker of Mississippi). 

“Had a productive meeting w/@ZelenskyyUa​ ​today & made clear that the U.S. is united across party lines in support of Ukraine against Putin’s belligerence. Putin will not be allowed to target our Eastern European partners and allies w/o consequences,” Shaheen, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, said ​in a Twitter posting.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has massed a force of more than 100,000 troops along Ukraine’s eastern border that the US and its European allies said is preparation for an invasion as early as this month. 

A bipartisan group of US Senators visited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky amid tensions between Ukraine and Russia.
A bipartisan group of US senators visited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky amid tensions between Ukraine and Russia.
REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

The White House on Friday accused Moscow of deploying operatives in eastern Ukraine to carry out acts of sabotage on Russian proxies in the region as part of a “false-flag” attack as a pretext for an invasion.

At the same time, “influence actors” are flooding social media with fabricated claims about Ukraine provocations, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denied the accusations on Monday as “total disinformation.”

Russia is also suspected of being behind a series of cyberattacks last week that planted malware in the computer systems ​of Ukrainian government agencies and information technology companies​.​

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen wrote that the meeting made it clear that the United States is "united across party lines in support of Ukraine against Putin's belligerence."
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen wrote that the meeting made it clear that the United States is “united across party lines in support of Ukraine against Putin’s belligerence.”
REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Microsoft said the malware was designed to resemble ransomware but is “intended to be destructive and designed to render targeted devices inoperable rather than to obtain a ransom.”

The senators’ visit to Ukraine follows failed diplomatic talks in Geneva and Vienna last week involving the US, NATO and Russian officials over Putin’s demand for security guarantees that Ukraine and other former Soviet bloc states will not be allowed to join the alliance. 

The US has called that a “non-starter.”

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the US and its NATO allies are poised to take action if Russia launches an invasion. 

“If Russia wants to move forward with diplomacy. We are absolutely ready to do that in lockstep with our allies and partners. If Russia wants to go down the path of invasion and escalation, we’re ready for that, too, with a robust response that will cut off their strategic position,” Sullivan said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.​

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in an interview that the US is pursuing diplomacy with Russia, but would be ready if the situation escalates.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in an interview that the US is pursuing diplomacy with Russia, but would be ready if the situation escalates.
Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

“So, from our perspective, we are pursuing simultaneously deterrence and diplomacy, and we’ve been clear and steadfast in that again, fully united with the trans-Atlantic community,” he said.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baebock reiterated Sullivan’s comments during a visit to Kiev on Monday, warning that “any further escalation would carry a high price for the Russian regime — economic, political and strategic.”

“We are prepared to have a serious dialogue with Russia, because diplomacy is the only way to defuse this highly dangerous situation,” she said.

With Post wires

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