U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has arrived in Kyiv where he will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and other officials as part of a trip that will also take him to Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.
The top U.S. diplomat's visit to Kyiv on January 30 comes amid the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, who has been accused by Democrats of abusing his power of office by pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rival by withholding congressionally approved military aid and a highly desired invitation to the White House for Zelenskiy.
It also comes days after Pompeo reportedly asked an NPR journalist in anger, "Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?"
Ukraine relies heavily on U.S. military and political support, along with aid provided by European countries.
Pompeo's meeting with Zelenskiy and other officials is scheduled for January 31.The meetings will "highlight U.S. support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," the State Department said in a statement ahead of his visit.
Pompeo is also scheduled to attend a ceremony in the capital honoring those who have died in the long, bloody conflict in eastern Ukraine against Russia-backed separatists.
More than 13,000 people have died in the conflict since 2014. Russia also seized and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in a move not recognized by the international community.
A day before his talks with the Ukrainian leadership, the U.S. Treasury Department joined the European Union and Canada in imposing new sanctions on Russia in response to Moscow’s “continued aggression toward Ukraine and attempted occupation of Crimea.”
Canada, the EU, and United States began issuing the restrictive measures after Russia seized the Crimea region in March 2014 and their respective sanctions lists have grown over the subsequent years as Moscow has continued to back the separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Pompeo travels to Ukraine from London, where he held talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on January 30. The two discussed strengthening bilateral ties following Britain's departure from the European Union, including negotiating a free trade deal.
A State Department spokesman said the talks with Johnson focused on "strengthening bilateral ties" and "the importance of maintaining the integrity of communications networks."
Britain granted China's telecommunications giant Huawei a limited role in building its 5G network, despite Washington's concerns that Huawei could be compelled to help with electronic eavesdropping after Beijing enacted a 2017 national intelligence law.