The top US diplomat will be in Kiev next Thursday and Friday. He is the first administration official to travel there since the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
Pompeo was initially scheduled to visit Ukraine, along with several other countries, earlier this month. That trip was postponed “due to the need for the Secretary to be in Washington, DC, to continue monitoring the ongoing situation in Iraq and ensure the safety and security of Americans in the Middle East,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement at the time.
According to the State Department, Pompeo will meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko, and Defense Minister Andriy Zahorodnyuk “to highlight U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“The Secretary will also attend a wreath laying ceremony at St. Michael’s to honor those who have fallen in the Donbas, and meet with religious, civil society, and business community leaders,” a statement from Ortagus said.
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Ahead of the original trip, a senior State Department official told reporters that the leaders would discuss issues including security assistance, reform and strengthening the rule of law. However, that official didn’t deny outright that Pompeo could also raise the prospect of the investigations sought by Trump into his political rival Joe Biden, Biden’s son Hunter and the debunked theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.
Numerous witnesses in the impeachment investigation testified that it was their understanding that a White House visit for Zelensky and military aid to Ukraine were conditioned on a public announcement of these investigations. CNN reported last month that Ukrainian officials were discussing ways to improve their country’s standing with Trump, including possibly launching investigations the President had wanted.
Speaking to reporters on a conference call in late December, the senior official said, “I can’t tell you every topic that’s going to come up in those bilateral meetings, but that’s really what we are focused on, that as Ukraine faces its challenges, the United States is with them.”
The official also would not answer questions about the departure of the top-ranking US diplomat in Ukraine. Ambassador Bill Taylor, who has been serving in temporary capacity in Kiev since June, left his post on January 2 — just one day before Pompeo’s visit was initially scheduled.
Taylor served as a key witness in the impeachment inquiry, providing damning testimony about alleged quid pro quo with Ukraine. He garnered the ire of the President, who repeatedly accused the career diplomat — without evidence — of being a “Never Trumper.”
In addition to his stop in Ukraine, Pompeo will also visit London, Minsk, Belarus; Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan; and Tashkent, Uzbekistan.