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McConnell and Other Republican Senators Make Secret Visit to Ukraine

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WASHINGTON — Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, visited Ukraine on Saturday to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky, leading the latest delegation of American 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 accompanied by three other Republican senators, comes as the Senate is working to pass a $40 billion emergency military and humanitarian aid package for Ukraine. It follows a string of other clandestine visits, including by the first lady, Jill Biden, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The trip, a rare international visit for Mr. McConnell, highlights the widespread 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 the conflict and the scope of American assistance.

The visit was first disclosed by Mr. Zelensky’s office, and Mr. McConnell later released a statement confirming it after he said the delegation had left Ukraine. The group, he said, affirmed that the United States would “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,” Mr. McConnell said. “We saw firsthand the courage, unity and resolve of the Ukrainian people.”

Mr. McConnell was joined by Senators John Barrasso of Wyoming, a member of his leadership team and the Foreign Relations Committee; 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.

“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,” Mr. McConnell said in his statement. “It is squarely in our national interest to help Ukraine achieve victory in this war and to help Ukraine and other countries deter other wars of aggression before they start.”

On Thursday, the Senate failed to expedite passage of the $40 billion emergency package for Ukraine as one Republican senator, Rand Paul of Kentucky, refused to agree to waive procedural hurdles and approve the measure without being granted an opportunity to add a proposal establishing an inspector general to oversee how the money is spent.

The measure is still expected to pass as soon as next week.



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