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Mitch McConnell Makes Surprise Visit To Ukraine

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Senate Minority Leader and Republican Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell led a delegation of fellow GOP senators to Ukraine.

The senators arrived in secret to the embattled nation on Saturday to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, CNN reported.

He was joined by fellow Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, John Barrasso of Wyoming and John Cornyn of Texas.

The Ukrainian president said on Instagram that the visit “is a strong signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine from the United States Congress and the American people.”

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“Thank you for your leadership in helping us in our struggle not only for our country, but also for democratic values and freedoms. We really appreciate it,” he said.

This week Sen. McConnell expressed his support for the $40 billion aid package passed by the House for Ukraine as he urged his Senate colleagues to do the same.

“I strongly support the next package of lethal military assistance, which the House has passed with an overwhelming bipartisan majority. I hope the Senate can reach an agreement to consider and pass this legislation today. The Ukrainians need it. We need to do it today,” he said on Thursday.

But two members of his own party, Sens. John Kennedy of Louisiana and Rand Paul of Kentucky want some conditions met before they are willing to vote in favor of the aid.

“My oath of office is to the U.S. Constitution, not to any foreign nation. Congress is trying yet again to ram through a spending bill – one that I doubt anyone has actually read – and there’s no oversight included into how the money is being spent,” Sen Paul said on Twitter.

“All I requested is an amendment to be included in the final bill that allows for the Inspector General to oversee how funds are spent. Anyone who is opposed to this is irresponsible,” he said.

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“While I sympathize with the people of Ukraine, and commend their fight against Putin, we cannot continue to spend money we don’t have. Passing this bill brings the total we’ve sent to Ukraine to nearly $54 billion over the course of two months,” the senator said.

“It’s threatening our own national security, and it’s frankly a slap in the face to millions of taxpayers who are struggling to buy gas, groceries, and find baby formula,” he said.

Around two weeks ago House Speaker and California Rep. Nancy Pelosi became the highest elected official in the United States to visit Ukraine since its war with Russia began.

The clandestine visit occurred on Saturday May 1 and her office issued a press release regarding the visit on Sunday.

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“Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Members of a Congressional delegation issued this statement following their visit to Kyiv, Ukraine.  This visit is the first official Congressional delegation to have visited Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.  The full delegation, which includes Chairman Jim McGovern, Chairman Gregory Meeks, Chairman Adam Schiff, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Congressman Bill Keating and Congressman Jason Crow, will continue travel in southeast Poland and Warsaw,” the press release said.

“Our Congressional Delegation had the solemn opportunity and extraordinary honor of meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other top Ukrainian officials in Kyiv,” the Speaker said.

“Our delegation traveled to Kyiv to send an unmistakable and resounding message to the entire world: America stands firmly with Ukraine.  Our meeting with President Zelenskyy began with him thanking the United States for the substantial assistance that we have provided.  He conveyed the clear need for continued security, economic and humanitarian assistance from the United States to address the devastating human toll taken on the Ukrainian people by Putin’s diabolic invasion – and our delegation proudly delivered the message that additional American support is on the way, as we work to transform President Biden’s strong funding request into a legislative package.  Our delegation conveyed our respect and gratitude to President Zelenskyy for his leadership and our admiration of the Ukrainian people for their courage in the fight against Russia’s oppression,” she said.

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“Our delegation will now continue our travels in Poland, where we will meet with President Andrzej Duda and senior officials.  We look forward to thanking our Polish allies for their dedication and humanitarian efforts.  We will proudly convey the gratitude of America for the work of U.S. servicemembers and diplomats and other civilian leaders in Poland.  When we return to the United States, we will do so further informed, deeply inspired and ready to do what is needed to help the Ukrainian people as they defend democracy for their nation and for the world,” she said.

In a video clip of the visit the Speaker expressed solidarity with Ukraine.

“We are visiting you to say thank you for your fight for freedom, that we’re on a frontier of freedom and that your fight is a fight for everyone,” she said to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. “And so our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is done.”

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