WASHINGTON — Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky’s minority leader visited Ukraine on Saturday to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Mr. McConnell’s surprise visit, who was joined by three other Republican senators, comes as the Senate works to approve a $40 billion military and humanitarian aid package for Ukraine. It follows a series 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 broad bipartisan support for Ukraine in Washington as the country tries to fend off the Russian invasion, even as questions remain about the Biden administration’s overall strategy towards regarding the conflict and the amount of US aid .
“Helping Ukraine is not merely an example of philanthropy — it directly affects America’s national security and vital interests that Russia’s naked aggression fails and comes at significant cost,” Mr McConnell said this week. “If Ukraine fails to fend off Russian aggression, there is no doubt that the threat to US and European security will increase.”
The trip was announced by the office of Mr. Zelensky. Details were not yet available from lawmakers.
Mr. McConnell was joined by Wyoming Senators John Barrasso, 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.
On Thursday, the Senate failed to speed up the approval of the $40 billion emergency package for Ukraine as a Republican senator, Rand Paul of Kentucky, refused to agree to procedural hurdles and approve the measure without being given the opportunity. A proposal to create an inspector to add general oversight of the spending of the money. The measure is expected to be implemented next week.