WASHINGTON — Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, visited Ukraine on Saturday to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is leading the last delegation of U.S. lawmakers to the country as the United States deepens its commitment to kyiv’s fight against the Russian invasion.
The surprise visit by Mr. McConnell, who was joined by three other Republican senators, comes as the Senate is working to approve a $40 billion emergency military and humanitarian aid package for Ukraine. A series of other clandestine visits follow, including from First Lady Jill Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The trip, a rare international visit for McConnell, highlights the broad bipartisan support for Ukraine in Washington as the country tries to fend off Russia’s invasion, even as questions remain about the Biden administration’s overall strategy toward conflict and the extent of American assistance. .
“Assisting Ukraine is not an example of mere philanthropy: it directly affects the national security of the United States and the vital interests that open aggression by Russia is not successful and carries significant costs,” McConnell said this week. “If Ukraine fails to repel Russian aggression, there is no doubt that the threat to American and European security will grow.”
The trip was revealed by Mr. Zelensky’s office. Details were not yet available from lawmakers.
Mr. McConnell was joined by Senators John Barrasso of Wyoming, a member of his leadership team and the Committee on Foreign Relations; John Cornyn of Texas, a member of the Intelligence Committee; and Susan Collins of Maine, who sits on both the Intelligence Committee and the Appropriations Committee, which oversees government funding.
On Thursday, the Senate did not fast-track approval of the $40 billion emergency package for Ukraine, as a Republican senator, Rand Paul of Kentucky, refused to agree to waive procedural hurdles and pass the measure without a chance to vote. add a proposal to establish an inspector. to monitor how money is spent. The measure is still expected to pass as soon as next week.