Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Senators urge Trump to meet with Ukraine leaders before Putin

May 8, 2017 ( Sen. John McCain and five other senators are urging President Trump to hold off on meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin until he has first met with Ukrainian leaders. The senators, who include Republican and Democratic members of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, wrote to the president after he and Putin reportedly discussed a first face-to-face meeting in July on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Germany. Russia has incurred international condemnation and stoked widespread concerns among the United States' European allies for fueling a conflict in eastern Ukraine against the government of President Petro Poroshenko.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is still formulating its approach to Russian aggression and long-time commitments such as the NATO alliance as questions continue to swirl over its relationship with Moscow, which the U.S. intelligence community says meddled in the presidential election last year. "Meeting with democratically elected representatives from Ukraine would send a strong signal that the United States continues to prioritize our relationship with longstanding allies, and will continue our commitments to support Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of ongoing aggression," they wrote in the May 4 letter. Discussions of the possible meeting between Trump and Putin were reported by the Kremlin, but not included in a readout of the phone call released by the White House.

McCain and fellow Republicans James Inhofe and Rob Portman, along with Democrats Bob Menendez, Jeanne Shaheen and Bob Casey, praised the president for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's decision to attend a NATO foreign ministers meeting in March, following reports he would not go. "Many of our allies in Europe are anxiously awaiting policy direction from your administration about our commitments to NATO and other institutions that preserve the international order that has served as the framework for international stability and security since the end of the Second World War," the senators wrote.