WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he hopes to be able in the coming days to announce additional measures along with Western allies to counter Russian aggression in Ukraine.
“Next week I am hopeful, when our NATO colleagues are in town, we will be able to announce another series of actions that we will jointly take together to push back against what Russia is doing there in Crimea and the Sea of Asov and the region,” Pompeo told a House of Representatives hearing on March 27.
NATO members are scheduled to be in Washington on April 4 to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Western military alliance.
Pompeo, who was not more specific about any potential measures, also said that “I don’t know that we’ve done all that we can yet” to address Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.
“We are constantly evaluating whether we’re not only providing enough resources to Ukraine…but whether it’s the right tools. Not only the tools you see — munitions and arms — but intelligence-sharing…All the things [for which] we have the capacity.”
The United States and European Union have slapped a series of sanctions on Moscow for its activities in Ukraine in recent years, helping to send ties between Russia and the West plunging to post-Cold War lows.
In 2014, Moscow seized and annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in a move not recognized by the international community.
It has also been supporting separatists fighting Kyiv government forces in Ukraine’s eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in a conflict that has killed some 13,000 people — a quarter of them civilians — and uprooted well over 1 million Ukrainian citizens.
With regard to Crimea, Pompeo said, “It belongs to Ukraine, and we want to see that fixed.”
On March 18, Russian President Vladimir Putin marked the fifth anniversary of what Moscow considers the day Crimea became part of Russia by visiting Ukraine’s Black Sea Peninsula, while NATO, the United States, and the European Union again condemned what they called the “illegal” land grab.
Pompeo’s comments come just days before Ukraine’s March 31 presidential election. Incumbent President Petro Poroshenko, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, and comedian Volodomyr Zelenskyy are the frontrunners.
Pompeo said that Washington continues to “push back against Russian efforts to interfere when elections are approaching, as we are in Ukraine today.”
The Ukrainian government released a new study on what it called Russia’s planned interference in the country’s election process, which it said “envisages further provoking a comprehensive destabilization of the situation in Ukraine in order to facilitate the revenge of the pro-Russian forces in our country following the 2019 election results.”
The interference will include “systematic and versatile measures for influencing the course of the election process and counting votes during the presidential and later parliamentary elections in Ukraine.”
Russia has denied interfering in other countries’ elections. It has said it did not meddle in the U.S. 2016 presidential election despite the conclusions of U.S. intelligence community that it did to help boost the campaign of Donald Trump.