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McConnell, Republican senators meet Zelensky in surprise visit to Kyiv

In this handout photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, shakes hands with US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kyiv, Ukraine, May 14, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
In this handout photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, shakes hands with US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kyiv, Ukraine, May 14, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and a delegation of GOP senators meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv during an unannounced visit today, delivering the latest show of American solidarity with the country at war with Russia.

A video posted on Zelensky’s Telegram account shows McConnell, who is from Kentucky, and Senators Susan Collins of Maine, John Barrasso of Wyoming and John Cornyn of Texas greeting him in the capital. Zelensky, in an Instagram post, calls the visit “a strong signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine from the United States Congress and the American people.”

The trip comes 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 American aid to the region well above $50 billion. The measure includes $6 billion for Ukraine for intelligence, equipment and training for its forces, plus $4 billion in financing to help Ukraine and NATO allies build up their militaries.

Passage was delayed Thursday by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who demanded the inclusion of a proposal to have an inspector general scrutinize the new spending. But final approval is not in doubt and could come in the week ahead, reflecting overwhelming support in Congress for replenishing the Ukrainian war effort.

“They’re only asking for the resources they need to defend themselves against this deranged invasion,” McConnell said this past week of the Ukrainians. “And they need this help right now.”

It was the second high-profile congressional delegation to stop in Ukraine in as many weeks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited on May 1 with a group of House Democrats and promised Zelensky that the United States will “be there for you until the fight is done.”

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