Ukraine president, US lawmakers huddle amid tensions with Russia | TheHill

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke with more than 20 lawmakers during a video call on Friday amid tensions between Kyiv and Moscow.

In a statement following the meeting, Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanUkraine president, US lawmakers huddle amid tensions with Russia Members of Congress not running for reelection in 2022 Hewitt pushes back on Ohio GOP Senate candidate’s election fraud claims MORE (R-Ohio), the co-chairman of the Senate Ukraine Caucus who was on the call with Zelensky, said the conversation touched on Russia’s threat to its borders, Zelensky’s appreciation for the U.S. military’s help and his opposition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, among other issues.

“Today we had an opportunity to hear directly from President Zelenskyy about the ongoing Russian troop buildup along the Ukraine-Russia border and to express our strong solidarity with the people and the democratically-elected government of Ukraine,” Portman said in the statement.

Zelensky, in a statement after the meeting concluded, said he briefed the U.S. delegation — made up of both senators and representatives — on steps being pursued to attain peace within existing negotiation formats.

They also reportedly discussed the importance of U.S. involvement in the peace process, expanding sanctions pressure on the Russian Federation, and cooperation between the U.S. and Ukraine in the security field.

Tensions between Moscow and Washington ramped up as Russia amassed a large troop presence on the Ukrainian border. The buildup fueled fear among Western nations that Russia may be planning an attack.

U.S. intelligence earlier this year found that Russia was planning a military offensive against Ukraine that could occur as early as next year. The intelligence document, which was obtained by The Washington Post, said the offensive would involve 175,000 troops being deployed near the border.

Russia, however, has denied having any such plans.

On Saturday, Reuters reported that more than 10,000 Russian troops were leaving regions near Ukraine and returning to permanent bases. According to Interfax, the Russian military was quoted.

Zelensky, in his statement on Friday, said, “Now, more than ever, it is not words that matter, but decisive actions,” according to The Associated Press.

“My goal is to stop the bloodshed in the east of Ukraine. He said that it was impossible to imagine security in Europe if the war in Donbas is not ended.

Zelensky also said “not a single third country can have a say in Ukraine’s integration into NATO,” adding that there could be “no agreements on Ukraine without Ukraine,” according to the AP.

Russia has called on NATO to promise that it will not expand the group in the direction of Russia’s borders, according to Reuters. According to Reuters, Moscow is also concerned about Ukraine’s growing association with NATO.

President BidenJoe BidenSunday show preview: Omicron surges, and Harris sits for extensive interview Democrats like what they saw in Harris-Charlamagne tha God exchange Biden’s policies are not very merry MORE spoke with Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinUkraine president, US lawmakers huddle amid tensions with Russia Thousands of Russian troops withdrawing from Ukraine border: report Photos of the Year MORE on a video call earlier this month, during which the two leaders discussed Moscow’s tensions with Kyiv.

Biden warned Putin against invading Ukraine, telling the Russian leader that his country would be subject to economic consequences if Moscow mobilized an offensive.

Biden also noted the option of de-escalating the situation by diplomatic means with the U.S. and other European countries.

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