Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv early next month, the State Department announced Monday — setting the stage for a highly anticipated and politically sensitive diplomatic encounter on the eve of President Donald Trump’s likely Senate impeachment trial.
Pompeo’s audience with Zelensky will take place during the first leg of a five-day, multicountry tour by the secretary through Eastern Europe and Central Asia, during which he is also scheduled to travel to Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Cyprus.
But the Zelensky meeting, scheduled for Jan. 3, comes the same day as the Senate gavels back into session after the holiday recess, when congressional leaders will continue negotiating terms for the president’s trial on charges related to his conduct toward Ukraine.
Amid concerns by Democratic lawmakers regarding Republican senators’ coordination with the White House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to transmit to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell the two articles of impeachment alleging that Trump abused his power and obstructed Congress.
Pompeo will be joined by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko and Defense Minister Andriy Zahorodnyuk at his conference with Zelensky next week and will “reaffirm U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the State Department said in a statement.
During a July phone call with Zelensky, Trump pressured his foreign counterpart to launch investigations into his domestic political rivals, and he is accused of withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in vital military assistance to Ukraine meant to counter Russian aggression.
Testimony by impeachment witnesses and public reporting has drawn Pompeo deeper into the Ukraine scandal imperiling Trump’s presidency, and he has refused to comply with House Democrats’ subpoenas as part of their inquiry.