Washington (AFP) – Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and a delegation of Republican senators met. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv during an unannounced visit on Saturday, to make the latest display of American solidarity with the country at war with Russia.
“Our delegation assured President Zelensky that the United States stands squarely behind Ukraine and will continue to support us until Ukraine wins this war,” McConnell said in a statement issued after the delegation left Ukraine.
A video posted to Zelenskyy’s Telegram account showed McConnell and R-Ky. Senators Susan Collins of Maine, John Barrasso of Wyoming and John Cornyn of Texas greet him in the capital. Zelensky, in an Instagram post, described the visit as “a strong signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine from the US Congress and the American people.”
Later, in his video night speech. Zelensky said he believed the senators’ trip demonstrated “the strong relationship between the Ukrainian and American people. We discussed various areas of support for our country, including defense and financing, as well as strengthening sanctions against Russia.”
The trip came as the Senate is working to approve a nearly $40 billion package for Ukraine, a massive infusion of support that would push US aid to the region above $50 billion. The measure includes $6 billion for Ukraine for intelligence, equipment, and training for its forces, as well as $4 billion in funding to help Ukraine and NATO allies build their militaries.
Traffic was delayed Thursday by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, which demanded the inclusion of a proposal that the inspector general examine the new spending. But final approval is not in doubt and could come as early as next week, reflecting overwhelming support in Congress for a renewal of the Ukrainian war effort.
“They are only asking for the resources they need to defend themselves against this disoriented invasion,” McConnell said last week. “And they need this help now.”
In his statement after the visit, McConnell called the visit “inspirational” and said he and his comrades had seen firsthand the “courage, unity and determination of the Ukrainian people.”
“It is directly in our national interest to help Ukraine win this war and to help Ukraine and other countries deter other wars of aggression before they begin,” McConnell added.
This was the second high-ranking Congressional delegation to stop in Ukraine in as many weeks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., visited May 1 with a group of House Democrats Zelensky promised that the United States “will be there for you until the battle is over.”
First Lady Jill Biden visited western Ukraine last weekend For a Mother’s Day meeting with Olena Zelenska, Zelensky’s wife.