A nonprofit recently sent to Kiev congressional aides who work for House members who advocate that the U.S. arm Ukraine in its war against pro-Russian separatists.
The American Center for a European Ukraine paid for the U.S. delegation, which included Deborah Weigel, legislative director for Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.). The lawmaker joined a bipartisan coalition of representatives last year in demanding that President Obama send to Ukraine lethal aid, including light anti-armor missiles.
Weigel visited Ukraine from March 28 through April 2 and attended several seminars aimed at furthering the center's mission to pull Ukraine fully into Europe and away from Russia, according to Weigel's trip report, filed Tuesday. The American Center for a European Ukraine is headquartered in Washington. Ribble chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee's Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats Subcommittee.
Ukraine's parliament today approved Volodymyr Groysman as prime minister in that country's largest political shakeup since the 2014 uprising that ushered in a pro-Western government. Ukraine has been mired in political deadlock that has delayed foreign loans worth billions of dollars from propping up Ukraine's economy, which has been decimated by its war with Russian-backed separatists.
Other House staffers who made the Ukraine trip were Ryan Canfield, legislative director for Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.); Maria Bowie, deputy chief of staff for Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.); and Carly Frame, legislative assistant to Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.). They had not filed their trip reports as of Thursday. Rogers, Cole and Boyle also have called on the U.S. to send lethal aid to Ukraine.
The seminars the delegation attended included "Defending truth: Information war with Russia" and "The corruption fight."
"Ukraine has been a special point of focus for Congress since the EuroMaidan Revolution and now the military conflict in Eastern Ukraine," the center wrote in a pre-trip filing. "Both the Foreign Affairs Committee and Appropriations Committee ... are heavily involved in dealing with Ukraine. These individuals were invited to be part of the delegation as their work deals directly with Ukraine and the [Kiev] trip will be an excellent opportunity to be educated firsthand about the situation on the ground and to make valuable contacts."