WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and a delegation of GOP senators met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv during an unannounced visit on Saturday, delivering the latest show of American solidarity with the country at war with Russia.
A video posted to Zelenskyy’s Telegram account showed McConnell, R-Ky., and Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, John Barrasso of Wyoming and John Cornyn of Texas saluting him in the capital. Zelensky, in an Instagram post, called the visit “a strong signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine from the United States Congress and the American people.”
Later in his nightly video address. Zelenskyy said he thought the senators’ trip showed “the strong bond between the Ukrainian and American peoples. We discussed various areas of support for our country, including defense and finance, as well as the strengthening of sanctions against Russia.
The trip came at a time when the Senate is working to approve a nearly $40 billion package for Ukraine, a substantial infusion of support that will push US aid to the region well above 50. billions of dollars. The measure includes $6 billion for Ukraine for intelligence, equipment and training for its forces, plus $4 billion in funding to help Ukraine and NATO allies build up their armies.
The passage was delayed Thursday by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, which demanded the inclusion of a proposal to entrust an inspector general with the control of new expenditure. But final approval is undoubted and could come in the coming week, reflecting overwhelming congressional support for rebuilding Ukraine’s war effort.
“They’re only asking for the resources they need to defend against this deranged invasion,” McConnell told the Ukrainians last week. “And they need that help right now.”
This was the second high-level Congressional delegation to stop in Ukraine in as many weeks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, visited on May 1 with a group of House Democrats and promised Zelenskyy that the United States “will be there for you until the fight is over.”
First lady Jill Biden visited western Ukraine last weekend for a Mother’s Day reunion with Zelenskyy’s wife, Olena Zelenska.