CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Senator Rick Blumenthal (D-CT) on Thursday met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.
The meeting was part of a trip to the region which also included talks with the Ukrainian Minister of the Interior and Prosecutor General, as well as a visit to Bucha, the site of some of Russia’s most heinous war crimes.
According to a press release from Zelenskyy’s office, the senators were briefed on the status of the war being waged by Russia as well as on future plans which hinge on support from international partners like the United States.
While millions of Ukrainian refugees fled at the height of the incursion, Zelenskyy said that one of his main goals now is fortifying the country so that residents can return.
“The number one task for us today is for women with children to be able to return to Ukraine by September 1, so that children can go to school, so that students do not leave and can go to universities. It is very important for us to do two things – to repair schools, universities, and also to have a powerful air defense,” Zelenskyy said.
He appealed to the senators to provide Ukraine with modern air defense systems.
Graham and Blumenthal have long been supporters of Ukraine, sponsoring various bills calling for more aid to Ukraine as well as harsher penalties for Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The senators spoke with Zelenskyy specifically about their efforts to designate the Russian Federation a state sponsor of terrorism, which would allow additional sanctions be imposed. They also presented Zelenskyy a copy of the resolution introduced in the Senate to further the goal.
After the meeting, Graham and Blumenthal released a joint statement reading in part:
“We were struck by the resilience and determination of the Ukrainian people in the face of such unprovoked inhumanity. Kyiv is a thriving city whose people are returning. In the fall, their children will go back to school as fighting continues in the east and south. America must continue to stand with them by providing the advanced air defense, artillery, ammunition, anti-mine, and medical equipment they need. This material is a good investment, not only in Ukraine’s sovereignty and freedom, but in the national security of all freedom loving nations across the globe. We must also continue to support and highlight the successful insurgency effort in the east. Walking the hallowed ground of Bucha, where there is still evidence of mass graves, it is clear as day that Putin will not stop with Ukraine but will seek to continue threatening western democracy and the free market world. We join with our European allies, and other democracies across the globe, and encourage further sanctions and economic embargoes to cut off Russia’s ability to wage this war.”