In his nighttime speech Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with a congressional delegation led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kyiv and urged for Russia to be officially recognized as a “terrorist state.”
McConnell said in a statement Saturday evening that the team “just departed” Ukraine and that meeting with Zelensky and his top aides was an “honor.” Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine, John Barrasso of Wyoming, and John Cornyn of Texas accompanied McConnell on the unexpected trip.McConnell and the other senators are the most recent US politicians to visit Ukraine since Russia invaded the country in late February.
The group, according to the Kentucky Republican, “reaffirmed” to Zelensky that “the United States is full with Ukraine and will continue to support Ukraine until Ukraine wins this conflict.” It is also critical that America does not act alone.”
“It is squarely in our national interest to assist Ukraine in achieving success in this conflict and to assist Ukraine and other nations in deterring new wars of aggression before they begin,” he concluded. In his nightly speech on Saturday, Zelensky stated that he addressed the delegation on US support for Ukraine and increasing sanctions on Russia.
“I believe that this visit proves once again the strength of bipartisan support for our state, as well as the strength of relations between the Ukrainian and American countries,” Zelensky stated.
Zelensky has requested that President Joe Biden declare Russia a state supporter of terrorism. During the GOP delegation’s visit, the Ukrainian president “expressed thanks for the historic decision to prolong the Lend-Lease program.”
Biden signed the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act into law earlier this week. The new bill, which relaxes some of the restrictions for the United States to lend or lease military equipment to Ukraine, was approved by a bipartisan majority in both the House and Senate. The bill’s backers claim it provides Biden far more ability to assist Ukraine in defending itself.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led the first congressional delegation to Ukraine since the violence began two weeks ago. Pelosi met with Zelensky in Kyiv, accompanied by many prominent House Democrats.Jill Biden visited Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska last weekend in Uzhhorod, near the Slovakian border, at a renovated school that now serves as temporary accommodation for displaced residents. Last month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with Zelensky in Kyiv.
Congress is attempting to approve a $40 billion aid measure that will supply Ukraine with military and humanitarian support. In a rare show of bipartisanship, McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pushed for the bill’s quick approval this week, after the House passed it in a bipartisan vote. The Senate attempt, however, was stymied Thursday by Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who sought modifications to the plan. The package is now anticipated to be passed by the Senate next week, with Schumer required to take procedural steps to override Paul’s objection before bringing it to President Joe Biden’s desk.
Following the discussion with the GOP senators, Zelensky “expressed optimism that the US Senate will immediately adopt a package of extra money to support the Ukrainian people,” according to a statement posted on his official website.
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