Mitch McConnell, Republican senators meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Ukraine
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has led a delegation of Republican senators on a visit to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Zelenskyy said in Facebook and Instagram posts Saturday that the visit “is a powerful signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine from the United States Congress and the American people. Thank you for your leadership in helping us fight not only for our country but for democratic values and freedoms. We do appreciate it very much.”
Video shared by Zelenskyy showed him greeting McConnell, along with Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas in Kyiv.
McConnell issued a statement Saturday evening saying the group had just left Ukraine and had “reaffirmed to President Zelenskyy that the United States stands squarely behind Ukraine and will sustain our support until Ukraine wins this war.”
He added that “our allies and partners must continue to step up and do their part.”
“It was inspiring to visit the historic capital of a beautiful country that has been forced to fight for its own survival. We saw firsthand the courage, unity, and resolve of the Ukrainian people,” McConnell wrote. “The Ukrainians are fighting bravely against a deranged invader and have already succeeded beyond skeptics’ wildest dreams. They are willing and determined to keep fighting to victory. Ukraine is not asking anybody else to fight their fight. They only ask for the tools they need for self-defense.”
Earlier this week, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., delayed Senate approval of a nearly $40 billion aid package for Ukraine and its allies, saying he wanted an inspector general to take a look at the spending. The measure has bipartisan support and has already won approval in the House. It is expected to easily pass the Senate.
“America’s support for Ukraine’s self-defense is not mere philanthropy,” McConnell wrote Saturday. “Defending the principle of sovereignty, promoting stability in Europe, and imposing costs on Russia’s naked aggression have a direct and vital bearing on America’s national security and vital interests. It is squarely in our national interest to help Ukraine achieve victory in this war and to help Ukraine and other countries deter other wars of aggression before they start.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a Democratic contingent to Kyiv to meet with Zelenskyy a few weeks ago, and First Lady Jill Biden met last weekend with Olena Zelenska, Zelenskyy’s wife.
The Associated Press reported Saturday that Russian forces have been pulling back from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, as they focus on trying to wear down Ukrainian forces in the Donetsk region in the east.
Zelenskyy has said the support of allies is key to defeating the Russian invaders.
“No one today can predict how long this war will last,” the AP reported that he said Friday night.