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Friday, May 27, 2022

Mitch McConnell leads GOP delegation to Kyiv and meets with Zelensky

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Saturday led a delegation of Republican lawmakers to Kyiv and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Video shared by Zelensky shows him greeting the GOP delegation on a street in Kyiv, which remains firmly in Ukrainian control nearly two months after Russia launched its invasion of the country.

The video showed McConnell, who represents the state of Kentucky, and senators Susan Collins of Maine, John Barrasso of Wyoming and John Cornyn of Texas greeting Zelensky. 

McConnell said on Thursday that the Senate needs to pass a new aid package for Ukraine immediately, after the House of Representatives this week approved $40 billion in new assistance for Kyiv.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy welcomes U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) in Kyiv on Saturday

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy welcomes U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) in Kyiv on Saturday

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy welcomes U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) in Kyiv on Saturday

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky (center) in a statement called the delegation's visit 'a strong signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine'

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky (center) in a statement called the delegation's visit 'a strong signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine'

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky (center) in a statement called the delegation’s visit ‘a strong signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine’

‘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 the Senate floor.

However, Republican Senators John Kennedy of Louisiana and Rand Paul of Kentucky have put holds on the legislation despite bipartisan support for the measure.

Paul wants special oversight of the money to prevent fraud. He is proposing an amendment to appoint a special inspector general to oversee the spending.

The trip to Ukraine by McConnell’s delegation was not announced in advance for security reasons. 

Zelensky in a statement called the delegation’s visit ‘a strong signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine.’ 

‘Thank you for your leadership in helping us fight not only for our country, but also for democratic values ​​and freedoms.’ 

Meanwhile, Kyiv and Moscow’s forces are engaged in a grinding battle for the country’s eastern industrial heartland.

Russian troops are withdrawing from around Ukraine’s second-largest city after bombarding it for weeks, the Ukrainian military said Saturday.

The trip by McConnell's delegation was not announced in advance for security reasons

The trip by McConnell's delegation was not announced in advance for security reasons

The trip by McConnell’s delegation was not announced in advance for security reasons

McConnell visited Kyiv after saying that the Senate needs to pass a new $40 billion aid package for Ukraine immediately

McConnell visited Kyiv after saying that the Senate needs to pass a new $40 billion aid package for Ukraine immediately

McConnell visited Kyiv after saying that the Senate needs to pass a new $40 billion aid package for Ukraine immediately

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy welcomes Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy welcomes Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy welcomes Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)

Ukraine’s general staff said the Russians were pulling back from the northeastern city of Kharkiv and focusing on guarding supply routes, while launching mortar, artillery and airstrikes in the eastern Donetsk province in order to ‘deplete Ukrainian forces and destroy fortifications.’

Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Ukraine was ‘entering a new – long-term – phase of the war.’

Zelenskyy said Ukrainians were doing their ‘maximum’ to drive out the Russian invaders and that the outcome of the war would depend on support from Europe and other allies.

‘No one today can predict how long this war will last,’ Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address late Friday.

Developing story, more to follow. 

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