Pence makes surprise visit to Ukraine, meets with President Zelensky to condemn Russian invasion
"We have to stand together, freedom loving-nations, stand with the people fighting for their freedom here in Ukraine, and that'll be my message when I return home," Pence told reporters
June 30, 2023 7:57am
Updated: June 30, 2023 7:57am
Former Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise visit to Ukraine on Thursday, differentiating himself on a key foreign policy issue ahead of the 2024 presidential elections.
"We are with you," the 2024 presidential candidate said during his visit, showing his intent to continue supporting the war-torn country.
"We have to stand together, freedom loving-nations, stand with the people fighting for their freedom here in Ukraine, and that'll be my message when I return home," Pence told reporters.
During his visit, Pence met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the presidential palace in the capital city of Kyiv. He also made stops at cities that were deeply affected during the early stages of the war, including Irpin, Bucha, and Moschun, where he met with families and children.
"The United States and the free world continue to stand with you until victory is achieved but then justice is also achieved," Pence told Zelensky.
Pence, who announced his GOP presidential campaign earlier this month, used the trip to position himself as the most experienced candidate in dealing with international affairs. So far, his Republican competitors have not been as clear as the former vice president in their stance on the Ukrainian war.
"The war in Ukraine is not a territorial dispute. It's a Russian invasion," Pence told ABC "This Week" co-anchor Jonathan Karl in March, staking out a position opposite the two front-runners.
"It's just the latest instance of Russia attempting to redraw international lines by force, and the United States of America must continue at a quickened pace to provide the Ukrainian military the support that they need to repel the Russian invasion -- and the stakes are that high," he added.
Pence’s visit, however, comes as Republican support for Ukraine has been declining. While most believe that the government should still provide weapons to Ukraine, about 44% of Republicans believe that the U.S. is providing too much aid for the cause, according to a recent Pew Research Center poll.
The figure has quadrupled from 9% since March 2022.
Pene will be running for the GOP presidential nomination against former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, among other candidates.