The top U.S. diplomat’s visit to Kyiv on January 30 comes amid the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, who has been accused by Democrats of abusing his power of office by pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rival by withholding congressionally approved military aid and a highly desired invitation to the White House for Zelenskiy.
It also comes days after Pompeo reportedly asked an NPR journalist in anger, “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?”
Ukraine relies heavily on U.S. military and political support, along with aid provided by European countries.
Pompeo’s meeting with Zelenskiy and other officials is scheduled for January 31.The meetings will “highlight U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the State Department said in a statement ahead of his visit.
Pompeo is also scheduled to attend a ceremony in the capital honoring those who have died in the long, bloody conflict in eastern Ukraine against Russia-backed separatists.
More than 13,000 people have died in the conflict since 2014. Russia also seized and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in a move not recognized by the international community.
A day before his talks with the Ukrainian leadership, the U.S. Treasury Department joined the European Union and Canada in imposing new sanctions on Russia in response to Moscow’s “continued aggression toward Ukraine and attempted occupation of Crimea.”
Canada, the EU, and United States began issuing the restrictive measures after Russia seized the Crimea region in March 2014 and their respective sanctions lists have grown over the subsequent years as Moscow has continued to back the separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Pompeo arrived in London on the first leg of his trip on January 29 and is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on January 30 before moving on to Kyiv.