Two Republican lawmakers visit Ukraine

Two Republican lawmakers visit Ukraine

A pair of Republican lawmakers toured Kyiv Thursday, making them the first U.S. officials known to visit Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion in late February.

Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, who shared photos of the trip, and Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana visited the Kyiv suburbs and mass graves in nearby Bucha. The Montana Republican said the world needed to see what Russian President Vladimir Putin had done.

There is indisputable evidence of Putin's war crimes everywhere - images of shallow mass graves filled with civilians, women and children are heart wrenching, Daines said in a statement. America and the world need to know about Putin's crimes against the innocent people of Ukraine now, not after time has passed and the aftermath of the evil and bloodshed has been cleaned up. The bodies of 410 civilians were removed from Bucha and other suburbs in the aftermath of Russia's destruction there, Ukraine s prosecutor-general Iryna Venediktova said earlier this month.

President Joe Biden said that the atrocities committed by Russia in Ukraine was genocide, the first time he has leveled the accusation against Putin.

After meeting with leaders in NATO countries bordering Ukraine, Daines was invited to meet Ukrainian officials in Kyiv and Bucha. He joined a bipartisan congressional delegation that visited Poland and Germany in late March.

Spartz, the first Ukrainian-born member of Congress, recently sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging the Biden administration to send American diplomats to Lviv to help with coordination in Ukraine.

She wrote that we must be engaged to stop this atrocity and bring back peace and order to the European content.

State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters in a briefing that the agency is constantly evaluating the safety and security situation, noting that the goal is to re-establish a U.S. diplomatic presence as soon as it is safe and practical to do so.

He argued that the lack of U.S. diplomatic presence on the ground has hampered our ability to coordinate and consult with our Ukrainian partners.