House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Members of a Congressional Delegation held a press availability today at Maidan Nezalezhnosti, where they placed flowers on a memorial for the Heavenly Hundred who were killed standing up for the rights and freedom of Ukraine’s people. Focused on national, economic, and energy security, the Congressional Delegation met with President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Secretary of the National Security Defense Council Oleksandr Valentynovych, Members of the Verkhovna Rada, Mayor Vitaly Klitschko, civil society NGOs and business leaders. Below is a transcript of the press availability:
“It is with great humility that our delegation comes to Maidan. We observed from afar the courage, the self-determination of the people of Ukraine to have a more democratic, open, transparent society. So, we come in solidarity with them. We come in sympathy for those who lost their lives speaking out for freedom. We come with great sadness, great sadness as to how this could possibly happen. We come with great respect for the revolution of dignity. What a great phrase – it could apply to everything, every aspiration for respect in the world. And we come with interest as to how we can identify more closely, help more seriously the Ukrainian people. Hearing about it, seeing it in the press and the media, it really hit us very hard. But coming here is really transformative in our gaining of understanding of the courage, of the courage, of the values, of the idealism of mostly young people taking responsibility for their future.
“I want to say how proud I am to be joined by a very distinguished delegation: Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo of California, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree of Maine, Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Congressman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana and Congressman Marc Veasey of Texas. They all bring their experience in Congress from their committees in trying to help the people of Ukraine in terms of the economy, in terms of democracy, in terms of freedom and in every other respect. We are here to learn and we come here to do that respectfully. Questions?”
Q: What should the United States do to bring forward the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis?
Leader Pelosi. Are you talking about the military? Would any of my colleagues like to take that? But I’m happy to answer any questions. Would you like to speak to that?
This is Congressman Marc Veasey of Texas, a member of the Armed Services Committee.
Congressman Veasey. Well, obviously, we want to see Ukraine push back the separatists. We believe that we want them to be successful in Crimea obviously and want to be supportive as much as we possibly can. On this trip we met with officials here in our U.S. Embassy. We also met with government officials and it’s very important to us. We want to see Ukraine whole. We want to see Ukraine be successful and prosper as well as working out all of the other issues that may be preventing Ukraine from consolidating as quickly as possible including energy issues as well.
Leader Pelosi. We’re very proud of our embassy here, of our Ambassador and of our representatives here of our country here in Ukraine. They have great knowledge of what is happening here. And working with them, we’re very proud that the U.S. has been supportive of the IMF releasing the $1.7 billion dollars last week as part of the $17.5 billion-dollar commitment initiative for Ukraine. We are very proud to have been a part of supporting the two billion dollars in sovereign loan-guarantees from the U.S. to Ukraine, and that’s in addition to nearly half a billion dollars in other assistance that our country has provided. I know there is need for more. I just want to say, Congresswoman Eshoo and I are particularly proud of the work in reforming the police because that’s been largely done by California Highway Patrol, California Office of Emergency Services and other aspects of security in our state – we’re both from California – our national board as well.
Any other questions?
Q: What are the next steps to support Ukraine for the International Tribunal, [MH]17 air crash investigation?
Leader Pelosi. Well, I think it was said very well when they said – when Russia vetoed the U.N. Security Council resolution that it was – that would make one suspicious or ask the question ‘why?’ Why would there not be the interest of everyone on an organization called the Security Council of the United Nations to have an investigation that would lead to the truth? And that’s what people need to hear: the truth. And that’s what’s so important – taking us back to here. This is about shedding light about the angels, the heroes and the Heavenly Hundred – identified in so many ways for their courage to shed light on the need for more transparency and more light here. We need the truth. We need more light shed on the cause of that terrible, terrible tragedy. And, of course, we support a global investigation. It’s my understanding now that the Dutch government is taking the lead on it, but I think we can do more. Thank you for your interest in that, as well.
Do any of my colleagues have anything to add?
Congressman Cicilline. Madam Leader, I just want to say that Samantha Power, our representative at the U.N., made a very strong statement about the U.S. position supporting an ongoing investigation and also a commitment to do all that we can to make sure the Ukrainian people get justice and that those responsible are held accountable. There was a very strong condemnation from our ambassador at the U.N. to the Russian veto and I think that really captures the position of our country.
Leader Pelosi. Thank you all.