Klobuchar met with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and Defense Minister Reznikov in Kyiv last month
WASHINGTON - On the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) delivered concurrent remarks with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), voicing her continued support for Ukraine after traveling to the country together last month. Klobuchar and Portman met with senior Ukrainian leaders, including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, to receive a firsthand account of Russia’s illegal, unprovoked and brutal war on Ukraine. The senators also went to Bucha and Irpin, the sites of horrific Russian atrocities earlier this spring, as well as Hostomel Airport, where the Ukrainian people claimed an early and key victory against the Russian army.
“President Zelenskyy was incredibly grateful. That was the first thing he wanted us to report back to the Senate and to the country. Incredibly grateful for all America has done to stand with Ukraine,” said Klobuchar. “We know that [Ukraine] is a country that has given its all…the people have put their lives on the line every day.”
“I always think of that viral video that President Zelenskyy did…What he said that night was simply this: “we are here.” From that moment on, he and his people inspired the world,” Klobuchar continued. “So now it is our time to assure the Ukrainians…that we are here for them. That we know what they are up against and it is evil and we stand with their democracy."
Klobuchar has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine. In March, Klobuchar traveled to Poland with a bipartisan group of colleagues where they met with diplomats, military leaders, American soldiers, Ukrainian refugees, and aid workers.
In January, Klobuchar traveled to Ukraine with a bipartisan group of Senate colleagues to meet with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and reaffirm the U.S.’ strong bipartisan commitment to a sovereign Ukraine.
Klobuchar: Mr. President, I rise today with my colleague from the great state of Ohio, Senator Portman, to share with the Senate and the country some of the things that we learned from our recent trip to Ukraine. I want to thank Senator Portman. He comes to the floor every week, never gives up when things are good or bad to talk about what's happening in Ukraine.
And President Zelenskyy was incredibly grateful. That was the first thing he wanted us to report back to the Senate and to the country. Incredibly grateful for all America has done to stand with Ukraine. We know that this is a country that has given its all. Sometimes we wonder in our own country what would we put on the line for democracy? Are we going to vote or things like that?
The people in this country, they have put their lives on the line every day. Ballerinas who put on camo and go to the front line, exhausted workers at a nuclear plant trying to protect not just Ukraine but all of Europe in what is the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe and supplies 20 percent of Ukrainian energy. The cellist playing beautiful melodies in the bombed out remnants of a town square, to remind people what Vladimir Putin did to the country, no matter what he did with his inhuman barbarism, that culture and love is there in Ukraine and it is not going away.
Senator Portman and I visited the mass grave in Bucha and in Irpin we saw many, many apartment buildings completely blown apart from the bombs. We saw firsthand the strength of the Ukrainian people and their leaders. As Vladimir Putin has shown his true colors with the bombing and the shelling near a nuclear power plant, the people of Ukraine have shown their colors in a brilliant yellow and blue. Over the past six months since the invasion, their bravery and humanity consistently shines through.
We had together traveled to Ukraine in the last group of senators that visited before the war started, with Senator Shaheen, Murphy, Blumenthal, Cramer, and Wicker, and we witnessed the incredible result of the people back then and it has only grown stronger. In our meeting with President Zelenskyy for over an hour and with Defense Minister Reznikov and the president's chief of staff, we heard time and time again the helpfulness of the HIMARs. In fact, the embassy staff told us that they went to that takeout place in Ukraine and the people who worked in the restaurant didn't even know they were with our embassy, but they knew they were American and gave them a bag of food and on the bag was written the words “thanks for the HIMARs.”
That's how the people in Ukraine are focused day in and day out. We also talked about the counteroffensive and I know Senator Portman will talk in detail about what is happening and we know the fight is not over. Russia retaliated by striking infrastructure just in the last few days and Ukraine is still on the move. But if anything, this is certainly a sign that our humanitarian aid and our economic aid and military aid has been very helpful. The situation, of course, remains dangerous, especially in the Zaporizhzhya region where the nuclear power plant is located. We have a situation where the Russians have been bombing and shelling around that plant, where several times Ukrainians have lost power for the power that powers that plant. All of it is dangerous.
We called for the IAEA, when we were there, they visited literally the next day, to be able to inspect that plant. They were able to have 14 inspectors, with two being allowed to stay on indefinitely. And we've called for a demilitarized zone as has our government. We also got to meet with the 101st Airborne in Poland and they again underscored our commitment to our NATO allies, the work they've been doing, including helping the Ukrainians remotely to make repairs on various missiles and various weapons and the like. It is an incredible story.
Last week our administration reported that Moscow is in the process of purchasing rockets and artillery shells from North Korea. It shows how much trouble they are in. This Senate voted nearly unanimously to allow Finland and Sweden to join NATO. That must happen as quickly as possible because we want to see a united front. As Senator Portman pointed out many times on our trip, there are over 40 nations that are aiding in this effort. It is not America alone.
I always think of that viral video that President Zelenskyy did. He not only knew the importance of staying in his country and not abandoning his post if the Russians invaded, if you think back to that day if he had done that, if he had left to a safer location, we would never be where we are today standing up for democracy. What he said that night was simply this: “we are here.” He said: “we are here.” From that moment on, he and his people inspired the world. So now it is our time to assure the Ukrainians, as we move forward with our next continuing resolution and supplemental with the budget, that we are here for them. That we know what they are up against and it is evil and we stand with their democracy.
Again, I want to thank Senator Portman for his incredible leadership in working with our leadership, our military, but also the Ukrainian leadership. They know him well.