Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) made a surprise visit to Ukraine. Risch’s office released a statement that he met with Ukrainian President Zelensky in Kyiv and then traveled to to the suburb of Irpin and the small city of Hostomel. No dates were mentioned.
I assume he traveled to Ukraine either last week or over the weekend. Politicians are usually eager to announce their visits and meetings with Zelensky. Risch isn’t a glory hound, though, and is rarely in the headlines. He is, however, the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It appears that he traveled without other lawmakers.
His visits to both Irpin and Hostomel left a big impression on the senator. In both locations, Ukrainian forces fought against Russian troops. There is evidence of atrocities against civilians that includes torture and extrajudicial killings which were discovered when the Russians retreated.
“I was taken aback by the atrocities I saw firsthand in Irpin and Hostomel, and we cannot stand by and watch these happen again,” Risch said in a statement.
“I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure the Biden Administration uses the authorities Congress has given to provide President Zelenskyy and Ukrainian defense forces exactly what they need to end this conflict. Ukraine must win this fight.”.
Zelensky posted a video on Instagram on Monday. He said that Senator Risch and he discussed ” the situation on the frontline of the war against Russia, deepening bilateral defense cooperation, strengthening sanctions and to “finally recognize Russia as a sponsor of terrorism.” The head of Kyiv regional military administration, Oleksii Kuleba, tweeted out some photos of the meeting. He said he is grateful “to international partners for their strong support.”
Senator Jim Risch @SenatorRisch , Chairman of Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, paid an official visit to Kyiv Region.
He saw with his own eyes the consequences of the crimes of the russian army.
I am grateful to international partners for their strong support. pic.twitter.com/gyysOCX5Ai
— Oleksii Kuleba (@OleksiiKuleba) June 27, 2022
Putin launched missile attacks on Kyiv on Sunday, likely to garner attention as the leaders of the G7 countries met in Germany. Putin and his invasion on Ukraine was a main topic of discussion. Before leaving for the G7 meeting, Biden announced a $450M military package for Ukraine. The package includes advanced rocket systems, patrol boats and ammunition. All totaled, U.S. assistance to Ukraine since February is at $6.1B.
Ukrainians continue to ask for military assistance. They ask for fighter jets, more advanced weaponry, and long-range missile launchers.
The next stop on Biden’s trip to Europe is Madrid where the NATO summit will happen. The main topic of this 30-member alliance will also be the Russian invasion into Ukraine. They will condemn the invasion and pursue accepting Finland and Sweden into the group. They will also expand its mandate to confront security challenges posed by China.
Zelensky spoke with the G7 leaders on a virtual call Monday and told them he wants the war to be over by the end of the year. In order to make that happen, he needs some help.
Zelensky asked the G7 leaders for reconstruction aid, anti-aircraft defense systems, help on grain exports and security guarantees, along with ways to “intensify sanctions,” according to the Business Standard.
Andriy Yermak, the head of Zelensky’s office, said the G7 should respond to Sunday’s Kyiv air strike with a full natural gas embargo. Others stressed unity as the key component in challenging Russia.
Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen issued a joint statement. They accused Russia of using natural gas as a political and economic weapon.
“Russia’s energy coercion has put pressure on energy markets, raised prices for consumers, and threatened global energy security,” they said in the statement. “This was most recently demonstrated by the politically motivated acute disruptions of gas supplies to several European Union member states.”
Zelensky also plans a virtual phone conference with NATO members during their meetings in Madrid.