McConnell leads congressional delegation to Ukraine, meets with Zelensky

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and three other Republican senators met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine, becoming the latest set of top U.S. lawmakers to travel to Kyiv.

Zelensky posted a video on his Instagram showing him meeting with McConnell and Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). It was not immediately clear when the group of senators had met with him.

“The visit of the U.S. Senate delegation led by Republican minority leader to the Upper House of Congress, Mitchell McConnell, is a powerful signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine from the United States Congress and the American people,” Zelensky wrote in his post.

“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.”

In a statement posted to Twitter after the senators left Ukraine, McConnell said it was an “honor” to meet with Zelensky and his senior advisers and that the delegation reaffirmed to the Ukrainian president that the U.S. “stands squarely behind Ukraine and will sustain our support until Ukraine wins this war.”

“It was inspiring to visit the historic capital of a beautiful country that has been forced to fight for its own survival,” McConnell continued. “We saw firsthand the courage, unity, and resolve of the Ukrainian people. 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.”

He added that “America’s support for Ukraine’s self-defense is not mere philanthropy. 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,” he said.

The Hill has reached out to the offices of Collins, Cornyn and Barrasso for comment. 

The delegation of senators to Ukraine comes as first lady Jill Biden earlier this week met with Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska in a surprise visit on Sunday, which was Mother’s Day.

Earlier this month, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office said that she and other lawmakers had also met with Zelensky.

The development comes as the Senate stopped short on Thursday of passing an aid package to Ukraine after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said that he wanted language from his amendment that would have widened the scope of the Afghanistan inspector general’s role to oversee Ukrainian funding to be included in the text of the aid package legislation, rather than as an amendment. 

Updated at 7:58 p.m.

Tags Nancy Pelosi Susan Collins Volodymyr Zelensky

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