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Klobuchar, Cramer to meet Ukrainian president amid escalating tensions with Russia

FILE PHOTO: State flags of Ukraine, European Union and U.S. flutter in central Kyiv
Flags of Ukraine, European Union and U.S. flutter in central Kyiv, Ukraine, on Dec. 6, 2021.
Gleb Garanich / Reuters
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ST. PAUL — U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Kevin Cramer are in Ukraine this week to reaffirm U.S. commitment to protecting the country from Russian aggression.

A bipartisan group of seven senators including Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Cramer, R-N.D., are meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other officials as U.S. officials say the country's eastern neighbor appears to be preparing for an invasion.

“During this time of extreme Russian provocation, it is more important than ever to assert our strong, bipartisan support for Ukraine’s sovereignty," Klobuchar said in a Monday, Jan. 17, news release announcing the visit. "I look forward to meeting with political and military leaders in Ukraine to better understand the situation on the ground and reaffirm our commitment to their security,”

Russia triggered a diplomatic crisis in Eastern Europe late last year when it massed more than 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine in what U.S. officials said was an apparent preparation for an attack. The White House last week claimed Russia sent saboteurs into Ukraine with the goal of staging an incident that could give Russia a pretext for an invasion, The New York Times reported.

“Russia continues to challenge Ukraine’s sovereignty, democratic values, and way of life. This is unacceptable and we must reaffirm our commitment to the Ukrainians in the face of this aggression,” Cramer said in the release. “Our bipartisan delegation demonstrates to Vladimir Putin the United States’ resolve and sends the message we stand with Ukraine.”

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In addition to Klobuchar and Cramer, Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.; Chris Murphy, D-Conn.; Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., are visiting Ukraine.

In addition to reaffirming U.S. commitment to Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression, the senators plan to encourage further democratic reforms in the country that could help it become a member of NATO.

Alex Derosier covers Minnesota breaking news and state government for Forum News Service.
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