Senator Kelly Ayotte blamed Russian president Vladimir Putin for the tense security situation during Ukraine’s election this weekend that might be driving down turnout.
Ayotte is in Ukraine with a group of international observers to make sure that the election goes smoothly.
Eastern Ukraine has apparently seen lower turnout than the rest of the country because of Russian presence.
“I just want to make clear that there’s one person to blame for that security situation: Vladimir Putin,” Ayotte said. “He’s had strategic control of what is happening there with paid mercenaries, the violence, the intimidation, [and causing the fear in] the people who live in that region.”
The observers don’t have much information about the election in some parts of eastern Ukraine, she said, because Russian separatists have kept them out.