Washington, D.C. – Tuesday Senator Joe Donnelly, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, discussed his recent travels as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation to Israel, Afghanistan, and Ukraine.
Donnelly said, “This trip provided an important opportunity to meet with leaders and military personnel in Afghanistan, Israel, and Ukraine at a time when we face serious and pressing international challenges. I had the chance to assess conditions on the ground in Afghanistan, where the transition is underway from American to Afghan security forces, and in Ukraine, which is dealing with the Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea, as well as ongoing threats of further aggression.
“On our first stop, we traveled to Israel and had the chance to discuss peace negotiations with Israeli and Palestinian leaders and the importance of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. During meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, we reaffirmed the importance of the strategic U.S.-Israel relationship. One of my most memorable experiences in Israel was sitting down with Israeli Defense Forces and hearing about their strategies and insight on how to reduce the scourge of military suicide, which continues to be a critical challenge affecting our servicemembers in the U.S.
“Next, we went to Afghanistan, where I had the privilege of meeting with some of our Hoosier servicemen and women. I was able to thank them for their service to our country and find out how we can help them transition back into civilian life. With preparations underway for Afghanistan’s presidential election on April 5 and the transition from U.S. military to Afghan security forces moving forward, we also discussed the drawdown and importance of signing the bilateral security agreement with President Karzai and other Afghan government and military leaders.
“We finished the trip in Ukraine, where we met with Ukrainian government leaders and everyday citizens after Russia’s illegal invasion and annexation of Crimea. I will never forget walking through the Maydan and seeing the bullet holes in the lamp posts and in the trees from the slaughter of Ukrainian citizens who were simply standing up for their most basic freedoms. Also on Sunday, we met with Prime Minister Yatsenyuk and cabinet members and talked about the need to protect Ukraine’s sovereignty while the U.S. considers imposing additional sanctions on Russia.”
The delegation, which included Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Congressman Stephen Lynch (D-MA), departed Tuesday, March 18 and returned Monday, March 24.
Highlights of Donnelly’s delegation included:
· Meeting with Israel Defense Forces on strategies to reduce and prevent military suicide
· Meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro
· Visiting an Iron Dome Launch Site
· Meeting with Hoosier servicemembers
· Visiting the 9/11 Memorial at Bagram Air Field
· Meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzi, members of the Afghan parliament, General Dunford—the Commander of all U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan—and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham
· Briefings from NATO Special Operations and Afghan National Army Special Operations
· Meeting with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, cabinet ministers, and other
· Visiting everyday citizens and memorials on the Instytutska and in the Maydan