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Sen. Rob Portman Heads to Ukraine to Observe Election this Weekend

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Sen. Rob Portman says he plans to head to Ukraine on Friday with other lawmakers to observe the country’s presidential elections. ideastream’s Nick Castele reports.

Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 3:17 pm

The Ohio Republican says he’ll travel to Ukraine with Sen. Ben Cardin, among others. Cardin is a Democrat from Maryland who serves on the Senate foreign relations committee.

Portman said they’ll visit polling places around the capital, Kiev, while voters select a president on Sunday. Portman spoke to reporters on a conference call.

“I’m there to show our support from the Unites States of America for self-determination for the Ukrainian people," Portman said, "to be sure that the voting is fair, that the ability of every individual in that country to influence their country is at the ballot box and not by the barrel of a gun.”

Ukraine’s Parliament removed the previous president, Viktor Yanukovych, in February.

Portman had little to say about American policy in the region -- only that he isn’t convinced Russian President Vladimir Putin is serious about withdrawing troops from areas near Ukraine. Pro-Russian militias continue to clash with the Ukrainian military in the eastern part of the country after Russia’s takeover of Crimea.

Portman says on Memorial Day, he’ll visit U.S. troops stationed in Poland as part of the NATO force there.

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