KYIV, Ukraine—U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), all members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, on Friday met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv and held a media availability immediately after.
“We just finished a very difficult moment in American politics. The three of us are [members of] different parties. We voted differently on the matter of impeachment. But we are here together because there is no difference between us or between Republicans and Democrats in Congress in our support for Ukraine, for our support for continued funding for Ukraine to defend itself, and our continued support for reform,” said Murphy.
In the meeting with Zelensky, Murphy specifically expressed his support for Ukraine, asked Zelensky what additional aid we could potentially provide, and praised Zelensky’s instinct for staying out of American politics and encouraged him to continue. On Wednesday, Murphy, Johnson and Barrasso announced the congressional delegation trip to Kyiv to meet with Zelensky. After the media availability, the senators will head to Munich to participate in the 2020 Munich Security Conference.
Murphy has been a staunch supporter of the U.S.-Ukraine relationship for years. In October, he authored an op-ed in Buzzfeed detailing the Trump administration’s systematic abandonment of Ukraine. Murphy and Johnson traveled to Ukraine last year, where they met directly with President Zelensky while U.S. military aid was being withheld as Rudy Guiliani was pressuring Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden. In May and following reports that Giuliani was traveling to Ukraine, Murphy sent a letter to U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch to submit an official congressional inquiry to the Trump administration about why a private citizen was traveling to Ukraine to work with a foreign government in a Trump campaign re-election effort. After news broke of the whistleblower’s complaint, Murphy again sent a letter to the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) to open an investigation into the matter.
A transcript of Murphy’s answers to questions taken at the media availability can be found below.
When asked about the importance of bipartisan support for Ukraine:
MURPHY: “Ukraine was not at fault in the matter of the impeachment trial. But we are here to express our support for continued reform efforts. It is very helpful for the incredible reform process that is happening here to continue. And that makes it much easier for us to be able to continue to convince our colleagues in Congress to be able to continue to deliver record amounts of support for Ukraine.”
When asked about an increase in Ukraine security assistance and potential for a special status as a partner of the United States:
MURPHY: “There's great interest in the United States Senate with respect to that special status. That's been a discussion that's been underway for years. And it certainly will continue to be a very important discussion on the Foreign Relations Committee. I think there's going to be a broader conversation about how we can better support Ukraine in the months moving forward. There will be many things on the table in that discussion.”
When asked about whether Murphy spoke with Zelensky about Rudy Giuliani:
MURPHY: “I think we all are confident that President Zelensky does not want to be involved in U.S. politics, and we hope that any pressure existed in the past to do so is over…Our message is we want to put this impeachment question behind us and we want to be moving together, Republicans and Democrats in supporting Ukraine.”