KYIV, Ukraine — Three senators visiting on Wednesday pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to ramp up efforts to combat corruption and reform the country’s Soviet-era security service while he described his hopes for President Joe Biden’s summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Russia invaded and seized Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 but was forced to a stalemate in the eastern region of Donbas, where it continues to provide military assistance to separatists. That hot conflict has not ended despite a peace treaty signed a year later in Minsk. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, Rob Portman, and Chris Murphy met Wednesday with Zelensky to discuss reforms but recognized Ukraine needs military assistance to survive its struggle with Russia.
“We have a very clear picture of the challenges faced by your military and all those on the front line,” Sheehan said at a press conference. “Now, we can return to the United States and talk about the ongoing need to continue to help.”
Zelensky issued a series of tweets, describing anti-corruption legislation, combating Russian disinformation, and tips on what Biden should tell Putin.
Zelensky said he informed the senators “in detail that Ukraine has important arguments to give to [the U.S.] to make @POTUS.”
Former Zelensky national security council adviser Alexander Danyliuk told the Washington Examiner on Wednesday that Ukrainians have much hope for the Biden-Putin summit.
“We are waiting now for the meeting between Biden and Putin, that it will bring some clarity as actually what are [Russia’s] real intentions in Ukraine,” he said.
Zelensky, a former comedian, lined up civil society members fighting corruption to show the delegation that he was serious.
“The continuation of political reforms is important for our partnership,” said Murphy, while Portman acknowledged Ukraine’s expertise in combating Russian disinformation.
Russia’s so-called hybrid warfare has penetrated Ukrainian territory and enhanced Putin’s efforts to divide the populace and erode democracy from within, Mykhailo Samus of the New Geopolitics Research Network told the Washington Examiner.
“Putin will play again these KGB games with Biden, trying to sell him empty promises,” he said, foretelling a promise to help settle Donbas. “Unfortunately, Putin is playing a pretty successful game dividing NATO, dividing the European Union and the United States.”