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Pompeo Reaffirms U.S. Commitment to Ukraine: ‘Bulwark Between Freedom and Authoritarianism’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that President Trump supports Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression but signaled Trump is not yet ready to meet with Ukraine’s president.

“We’ll find the right time,” Pompeo said at a press conference in Kyiv after meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who said he was ready to visit the White House for a meeting with Trump.

However, the secretary reaffirmed U.S. commitment to supporting Ukraine’s independence, calling Ukraine a “bulwark between freedom and authoritarianism in Eastern Europe.”

“Today I’m here with a clear message: The United States sees that the Ukrainian struggle for freedom, democracy and prosperity is a valiant one,” Pompeo said. “Our commitment to support it will not waver.”

A controversial phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian president in July spurred the impeachment inquiry last fall. During the call, Trump appeared to dangle $391 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine in exchange for Zelensky’s promise to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Trump faces a Senate trial considering two articles of impeachment charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Lawmakers are set to vote Friday on whether witnesses will be called for the trial.

“I don’t think these friendly and warm relations have been influenced by the impeachment trial of the president,” Pompeo reassured. “The United States under President Trump has been the world’s fiercest defender of Ukraine’s sovereignty.”

“If there is anything we can negotiate and discuss, and if I can bring something back home, I am ready to go straight away,” Zelensky said at the press conference.

Pompeo’s visit was the first between a Trump cabinet member and Zelensky since the impeachment process kicked off in September. Since then, the secretary of state has canceled two planned trips to Ukraine, one scheduled for November and once for earlier this month.