The Humpty Dumpty Institute worked with AFCMU (American Foundation for the Children of Moldova and Ukraine) to bring a delegation from the U.S. Congress to Kyiv, Ukraine, August 12-16, 2021. The delegation was composed of Rep. Anthony Gonzales (R-TX), Rep. Barry Moore (R-AL), and Rep. Troy Nelhs (R-TX). The goal of this trip was to get a better understanding of the complexities of the region through meetings with the Ukrainian government, business, and cultural leaders. The Members explored the challenges to economic development with private sector businesspeople, young entrepreneurs, and the U.S. business community. The trip also explored efforts made by Ukraine to stabilize its border regions to prevent human trafficking and smuggling of goods and arms. Ukraine is an important country for U.S. interests in Eastern Europe. It is crucial for all Members of Congress to get a better understanding of current dynamics and strategic concerns.
The program started with a briefing on Friday, August 13, 2021, by senior staff of the U.S. Embassy Kyiv; the Members were briefed on U.S. positions and priorities. This led the groundwork to productive meetings with the Ukrainian government, business, and civic leaders. Following the briefings, the delegation met with the leadership of the Ukrainian Headquarters of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), a United States government-funded organization that broadcasts and reports news, information and analysis to countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. At RFE/RL they learned of the work it is doing in Ukraine as well as the organization’s current difficulties in Russia and Belarus. After its meeting at RFE/RL, the delegation met with the head of Administration of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city and a major cultural, scientific, educational, transport and industrial center. Discussions focused on the need for people-to-people contacts to build a base for economic, scientific, and cultural exchanges. These business-focused talks continued throughout the program in working lunches and dinners which explored how to increase U.S. investment and opportunities in Ukraine.
Additional highlights of the program on Saturday, August 14 and Sunday, August 15 included meetings with Ukrainian veterans’ groups at which the physical hardships resulting from Russian aggression, the border wars. and in the temporarily occupied territory of Crimea were discussed. An important governmental meeting was with Mr. Volodymyr Taftay, Head of the Space Agency of Ukraine at which U.S./Ukraine cooperating in space was explored.
A moving part of the program was a visit to the Holocaust memorial Site of Babi Yar and then a meeting with the remaining Ukrainian ”Righteous Among The Nations”. Babi Yar, a small valley in Kyiv, is one of the most solemn and harrowing sites in Europe. There, the Members learned about the site where just 80 years ago, on September 29th and 30th, 33,771 Jews, were rounded up by the German Nazis and their collaborators and brutally murdered. Men, women, and children were murdered, simply because they were Jews. Following the visit, the Members attended a lunch in honor of Mrs. Nina Bogorad who is 96 years old, and the oldest living Ukrainian Righteous.
In 1942, at the age of 17, she brought into her home a young wounded Ukrainian soldier, who fled the Germans twice. His situation worsened and she wanted to take him to the Underground (partisans) doctors, he refused, explaining to her that in addition to being in the Underground, he was also a Jew, and could be given up by anyone. Understanding the incredible risks involved in harboring a Jew, she did so regardless. Mrs. Bogorad was recognized as one of the Righteous Among The Nations by Israel’s State Holocaust museum in 1992, the title bestowed to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews from the Holocaust, from the almost 23,000 Righteous recognized, only 169 are still living, and just 18 are still alive in Ukraine.
HDI is honored to be able to arrange programs that foster dialogue and advance U.S. strategic interests. All HDI’s Congressional Programs adhere to regulations set forth by the U.S. House Committee on Ethics and are approved prior to travel.