Meeks leads bipartisan trip to Ukraine amid tensions with Russia

Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Gregory MeeksGregory Weldon MeeksSenators huddle against Russia sanctions as tensions escalate (DN.Y.), is leading a bipartisan congressional delegation to Ukraine today, according to a congressional source.

The trip comes amid heightened fears that Russia is about to launch an imminent offensive against Ukraine, with the Pentagon preparing 8,500 troops for deployment and the State Department cutting staff from its embassy in Kyiv and issuing travel advisories for the country.

A spokesperson for Meek’s office said security protocols restrict the ability to discuss congressional delegations.

The visit by members of Congress marks a third trip by lawmakers, including a bipartisan Senate delegation that visited Kyiv early last week, and a bipartisan House delegation in December, led by the representative. Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoGallego says he was approached to challenge Sinema Lawmakers urge Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine Senators to meet with Ukrainian president to reaffirm US support MORE (D-Az.), chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations.

A senior State Department official also cited security concerns prohibiting discussing travel details. Congress may request assistance from the Department of State in arranging foreign travel as part of foreign policy oversight efforts.

“Generally, Europe is a hot spot, and a lot of NATO allies are welcoming our members of Congress and our staff and I think they’ll see some coming pretty soon, maybe in a few days,” he said. manager on Monday.

Meeks on Monday tweeted his support for the Biden administration’s strategy to pursue diplomacy with Russia to urge Moscow to withdraw the more than 100,000 troops the United States and its allies say pose a security threat. from Ukraine.

At the same time, the administration has increased the supply of defensive military assistance to Kyiv and is preparing troops to reinforce the allied armies in the countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) which are in the first line of tension between Russia and Ukraine.

“I strongly support the diplomatic path traced by the [the Biden administration] in an attempt to bring down the temperature on the Russian-Ukrainian border. Russia maintains military threat directly targeting Kiev [and] our NATO allies is not a peaceful negotiation tactic,” the president tweeted.

“The additional troop deployments contemplated by the President would send a strong signal of support to our allies and deterrence to Moscow. Such deployment would, of course, be a matter of deterrence, not war, which would require authorization from Congress.

house tenant Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSenators rally on Russia sanctions as tensions escalate Schumer calls for Senate briefing on Ukraine amid tensions with Russia Biden rushes to pressure Russia as Russia fears Ukraine intensify MORE asked the administration on Monday to brief all members of Congress on the dangerous situation surrounding Ukraine.

Secretary of State Antoine BlinkenAntony BlinkenBiden rushes to pressure Russia as Ukraine fears escalate visited Kiev on January 19, as the bipartisan group of senators departed, and announced the delivery of $200 million in additional US aid for defensive equipment for Ukraine. The secretary then traveled to Berlin to meet with European allies, then met with the Russian foreign minister in Geneva in a bid to defuse tensions along the Ukrainian border.

The State Department official highlighted his coordination with the bipartisan Senate delegation that visited Ukraine last week, with Blinken briefing participating senators before they departed for Kyiv.

“Last week there was a CODEL Senate [congressional delegation] in Ukraine we were very excited about it, the secretary briefed these members individually before they left,” the official said.

“We’re hoping to see more, again because this is a particularly sensitive time in this region, and we know Congress is very interested, and frankly, we’re counting on Congress to stick with us on messaging and s ensure they have what they need in this regard.

The House Congressional delegation comes as the State Department takes heightened security precautions in response to concerns that Russia could launch an invasion against Ukraine at any time.

The State Department on Sunday cleared the departure of some US government employees at the US Embassy in Kyiv and ordered the departure of all family members of embassy employees.

The State Department has also expanded its level four travel advisory for Ukraine, which advises against travel, to reflect the heightened threat of Russian military action. The travel advisory for Ukraine was already at level four due to COVID-19.

A senior State Department official told reporters at a Sunday briefing that the authorized departures and increased travel warnings mirrored earlier warnings from President BidenJoe Biden reporterFox News says Biden called him out after ‘son of a b—-‘ remark Peloton responds after another TV character had a heart attack on one of his Defense and National Security – Pentagon puts 8,500 soldiers on high alert MORE that Russian military action could occur at any time.

“The United States government will not be able to evacuate American citizens in such an event, so American citizens currently in Ukraine should plan accordingly, including availing themselves of business options if they choose to leave. the country,” the official said. .

“We continue to follow the path of diplomacy. But if Russia chooses further escalation, then security conditions, especially along Ukraine’s borders in Russian-occupied Crimea and Russian-controlled eastern Ukraine, are unpredictable and may deteriorate. deteriorate without notice.

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