November 27, 2022

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Mitch McConnell leads the Republican Senate delegation on a surprise visit to Ukraine, meets with President Zelensky

Mitch McConnell leads the Republican Senate delegation on a surprise visit to Ukraine, meets with President Zelensky

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday met with a US Senate delegation led by minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kyiv) in Kyiv, describing the visit as a “strong signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine from the US Congress and the American people.” office said.

But in Washington, a new round of funding for Ukraine’s fight against the Russian invasion has stalled in the Senate due to the objection of a member of the Republican Party.

In a video that Zelensky sent to his site Instagram pageMcConnell and his fellow Republican Senators Susan Collins (Maine), John Barrasso (Wu), and John Cornyn (Texas) greet Zelensky on a Kyiv street.

“Russia is committing genocide against the Ukrainian people,” Zelensky said in a press release announcing the senators’ visit. “Europe has not seen such crimes since World War II.”

Noting the “special role of the United States” in tightening sanctions on Russia, he said he was looking forward to more sanctions on the Russian banking sector. “In addition, we believe that Russia should be officially recognized as a state sponsor of terrorism,” Zelensky said.

On Saturday evening, McConnell described the visit as “inspirational.”

“Ukraine is not asking anyone else to fight for it,” he said in a statement. “They only ask for the tools they need for self-defense.”

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“America’s self-defense support for Ukraine is not just an act of charity,” the statement continued. Defending the principle of sovereignty, promoting stability in Europe, and imposing costs on naked Russian aggression has a direct and vital impact on US national security and vital interests.

Congress is about Approval of nearly 40 billion dollars In additional military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, exceeding President Biden’s $33 billion request, a new lifeline is extended to Kyiv as Moscow plows ahead with its invasion in the country’s south and east. Passing the measure, which the House of Representatives approved earlier this week, would bring the total amount of Ukrainian aid Congress has provided since the invasion began on February 24 to more than $53 billion.

The list of anti-Ukrainian Republican lawmakers is growing rapidly

The Senate is likely to follow the House in approving the package, but that effort has been delayed until next week after Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky). object Thursday on an urgent vote on aid to Ukraine, weakening bipartisan efforts to maintain continued aid to Kiev. Paul, who faced a backlash but stuck to his decision, could single-handedly block the package’s progress because the Senate would require unanimous approval to quickly move such a bill to a final vote. Now, Chamber must jump through all the usual procedural hoops.

Rand Paul, the lone holdout senator, postpones vote on Ukraine aid next week

Zelensky said he hoped the Senate would quickly approve the nearly $40 billion package by the time Ukrainian officials agree. negotiating with Russia To evacuate 60 “seriously injured” people and a paramedic from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. Zelensky described the negotiations as “extremely difficult” late Friday, adding: “We do not stop trying to save all our people from Mariupol and Azovstal.”

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Despite the battles in Mariupol, Ukrainian forces have triumphed in the Kharkiv region, pushing Russian forces north towards the border and retaking towns and villages in the area, a senior US defense official told reporters. Friday. The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, estimated that Ukraine “appears to have won the Battle of Kharkiv.” She added that the Kremlin “probably decided to withdraw completely” from its positions around the city amid fervent Ukrainian counter-attacks and limited Russian reinforcements.

The unannounced trip to Kyiv by McConnell’s delegation continued a display of visits to Ukraine in recent weeks by US government officials, allies, lawmakers, and dignitaries to show support for the war-torn country and its embattled leader.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with Zelensky on April 24 in what was at the time the highest-level visit of a US delegation since the start of the war. on April 30 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) He led a Democratic congressional delegation to Kyiv for talks with Zelensky. Pelosi pledged to the Ukrainian president that the United States was committed to “remaining there for you until the battle is over.”

First Lady Jill Biden Crossed the border into Ukraine Last weekend, he traveled to an active war zone in a rare move for the current president’s wife. Biden entered the country from Slovakia on Mother’s Day and met Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, who has not appeared in public since the Russian invasion began.

“I wanted to come on Mother’s Day,” Biden said before the start of a closed-door meeting between the two first ladies. “I thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people that this war had to stop, that this war was brutal, and that the people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine.”

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Amy Cheng and Eugene Scott contributed to this report.