Senators traveling to Ukraine to monitor presidential elections on Sunday said “we are watching” closely to see if Russia interferes in the process.
During a press conference in the country, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said it is too early to talk about the legitimacy of the election but said some steps have been taken to set up alternative polling places in regions in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russia separatists have occupied government buildings.
“We are certainly aware that there are outside agitators that are affecting the safety in the eastern part of Ukraine. We are well aware of that,” he said. “They are doing everything they can to disrupt the election. That is not the will of the people of Ukraine.”
Cardin is in the country along with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and a number of House lawmakers to help monitor the elections.
Hundreds of other monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe are also in the country.
“And we are particularly concerned about the impact from Russia and we will obviously be watching very closely what happens,” Cardin said.
Also on the trip are Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) and Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas). A number of other U.S. lawmakers will also be in the country, including Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Peter Roskam (R-Ill.).
During a press conference, Portman reiterated his call for the United States to supply Ukraine with small arms and anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons so the military can defend itself, noting his call is “way short of boots on the ground.”
He said he hopes Ukrainians turn out in “big numbers.”
The United States has warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that it would impose further sanctions on the Russian economy if it interferes in the elections.
Read more at THE HILL.