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Tipsheet

Ukrainian-Born Rep. Victoria Spartz Hopes Biden Will Visit Ukraine, But This Administration Has Other Plans

AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been calling on President Joe Biden to meet with him in Ukraine. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson did so earlier this month. Zelenskyy is not the only one calling for Biden to meet with him in his country, though. Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-IN), who was born in Ukraine, expressed such hope during CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday while she was in Kyiv, where they are celebrating Orthodox Easter.

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"Well, I think it's important," Rep. Spartz said about the news that Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will be going to Ukraine to meet with Zelenskyy. "I'm glad to see some of our elected officials do come here, because our people do support this fight. And it's important for us to be on the ground. And it shows that our country stands with the people of Ukraine," she continued.

"And I hope President Biden will actually someday to make here to meet with President Zelenskyy. Prime Minister Boris Johnson came to Ukraine. I think we can do it. We're strong people. We're a strong country. We definitely can arrange for our people to come here and visit Ukrainians," Spartz also said about President Biden. 

In a Saturday press conference message, as reported by Mary Kay Linge with The New York Post, Zelenskyy announced that the cabinet members will be meeting with him in Ukraine on Sunday. Zelenskyy also added that "we will be expecting, when the security will allow, the President of the United States to come and to talk to us."

Another report from The New York Post, from Steven Nelson, noted that President Biden told reporters on Tuesday that "the answer is I don’t know" when he was asked about if he's going to Ukraine. When he was asked if he wants to go to Ukraine, his answer was akin to Vice President Kamala Harris' response of "I haven't been to Europe" when asked about the southern border. 

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"I’ve been to Ukraine many times. I just haven’t been there recently — more than any other president. I’m the only one that’s spoken to the Rada twice," was Biden's response.

The Biden administration, however, has been adamant that the president will not go to Ukraine. Remember, Biden will mix up Title 42 with travel mask mandates. He's almost surely not making these decisions himself. 

Indeed, as Nelson's report noted, Biden has blamed his handlers for not letting him go to Ukraine. As Nelson mentioned:

Biden previously blamed unidentified subordinates for keeping him from making a trip to Ukraine.

“I’m here in Poland to see firsthand the humanitarian crisis and quite frankly, part of my disappointment is that I can’t see it firsthand like I have in other places,” Biden said March 25 in southeastern Poland.

“They will not let me, understandably, I guess, cross the border and take a look at what’s going on in Ukraine,” Biden said, seated next to Polish President Andrzej Duda.

But Ukrainian officials have welcomed many European leaders who made the trip to show their support.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with Zelensky on April 9 and walked the deserted streets of Kyiv in a show of solidarity after Russian troops pulled back from the capital city. 

Other leaders who visited Ukraine recently include European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who visited on April 8, and the presidents of Estonia, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania — who made the journey by train on April 13.

The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia visited Kyiv on March 15 despite heavy bombardment of the city three weeks into the Russian invasion, which began on Feb. 24.

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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, on that "Pod Save America" taping on April 14 during which she said Fox News' Peter Doocy "might... sound like a stupid son of a bitch" because of where he works, was also adamant that Biden will not be going to Ukraine. "We are not sending the president to Ukraine," she said. 

She went on to emphasize that as a good thing. "So no, that is not in the plans for the president of the United States," she said. "We should all be maybe relieved about that. You're welcome, America. We need him to do a lot of things."

Then there are questions about aid. The Biden administration tout the aid they've sent to Ukraine, which amounts to over $4 billion, but Rep. Spartz is calling for a different approach. 

When it comes to such financial support, Rep. Spartz had also indicated during her segment not only that Ukrainians "really need" more support, but that she hasn't seen where it's going.

"But I haven't seen them or do even humanitarian missions. Nothing is happening here. So I think they do need more security assistance, but we also need to ask some questions. What's happened with another $10 billion that we provided? Because I haven't seen it on the ground anywhere at all," Spartz said, as she called for more humanitarian aid through humanitarian corridors.

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Rep. Spartz gained attention closer to the start of the conflict, when she also called on President Biden to do more.

??????MUST WATCH??????

"This is not a war. This is a genocide...and we have a President that talks about and talks about and doesn't do things. What is he going to do? Wait, when millions die, then he’s going to do more? " - @RepSpartz on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/PXIihOgXAT

— House Republicans (@HouseGOP) March 1, 2022

There have also been changes to how the Biden administration is going about Ukrainians who are fleeing. According to Rebecca Beitsch with The Hill:

The Biden administration’s strategy of accepting fleeing Ukrainians through methods outside the U.S. refugee program will leave tens of thousands of people navigating life in the U.S. without the help or resources that refugees are typically offered.  

President Biden has committed to taking in 100,000 Ukrainian refugees who have fled Russian aggression. 

But the administration acknowledged Thursday that the bulk of those refugees won’t be coming in through the formal program dedicated to those fleeing violence. 

Instead, many will enter the country through a humanitarian parole program established this week that allows Ukrainians to stay in the country for up to two years, with officials temporarily waiving immigration requirements for Ukrainians who can secure U.S.-based sponsors. 

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President Biden announced the "Unite for Ukraine" program on Thursday. 

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