Congresswoman Victoria Spartz of Indiana visited the capital of her native Ukraine on April 14. She was accompanied by fellow Republican U.S. Senator Steve Daines of Montana. They became the first American officials to visit Ukraine since the launch of the Russian invasion in late February.

The New York Times said Spartz and Daines had been invited on the trip by the Ukrainian government on short notice. Spartz had planned to make an unofficial trip to the country but had then joined Daines, the paper said. The paper said that Daines had interrupted a trip to other Eastern European countries to accept the Ukrainian invitation.

After arriving in Kyiv by train from the west of the country, the paper said police had escorted the two Americans on a tour of areas destroyed during the War in Ukraine. The paper quoted Spartz as saying it was important for Americans "to show our support, to show we care."

According to her biography on the House of Representatives website, Spartz, 43, was born in the Ukrainian city of Nosivka. The biography said she had been elected to Congress in 2020 after serving in the Indiana state legislature.

According to her biography, Spartz received her undergraduate degree and a post-graduate degree at the National University of Economics in Kyiv before studying at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business in Bloomington.

The biography said she had been a member of the Indiana state senate from 2017 to 2020 before being elected to Congress.

'They are fighting to kill civilians'

In a YouTube video posted on March 1, Spartz spoke to the press about the plight of Ukraine. "My grandma is 95. She experienced Stalin. She experienced Hitler. But she said, you've never experienced something like that, ever," she said.

"They are bombing non-stop civilians, non-stop, from morning until night.... They are fighting to kill civilians."

On April 12, Spartz posted a letter on Twitter that she had sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, asking for American diplomats to return to the Ukrainian capital. "As you may know, the European Union returned its diplomatic corps to Kyiv over the weekend," she wrote.

She added that "it was past time that the United States follow our European allies in kind."

France to bring its embassy back to Kyiv

On the day of Spartz's trip to Kyiv, Ukraine said it was glad to hear of France's decision to move its embassy back to the country's capital.

In an April 14 post on Twitter, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he had talked to his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian. "I highly appreciate France's decision to return its ambassador to Kyiv," Kuleba said. He also expressed gratitude for France's support of a European Union "oil embargo on Russia."

U.S. diplomats will return to Kyiv when it is 'safe and practical'

Later that day, the French decision to return to Kyiv was brought up at a U.S.

State Department press briefing. Spokesperson Ned Price was asked when American diplomats might return to the Ukrainian capital. He said, "It is our goal to have a diplomatic presence re-established in Ukraine as soon as it would be safe and practical to have U.S. diplomats on the ground there."

The spokesperson said, "I would also hasten to add that the lack of a U.S. diplomatic presence in Ukraine has hampered our ability to coordinate and consult with our Ukrainian partners." He noted that U.S. President Joe Biden and Blinken spoke regularly to their Ukrainian counterparts by phone. His comments can be viewed in their entirety on the State Department website.