A top-level U.S. congressional delegation led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi praised the “ferocity” and resolve of Ukrainians face to face with their leader in a weekend visit to Kyiv undertaken in extraordinary secrecy.
Pelosi, second in line to the presidency after the vice president, was the most senior American lawmaker to visit Ukraine since Russia’s war began more than two months ago. Only days earlier, Russia bombed the Ukrainian capital while the U.N. secretary-general was there.
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Pelosi and the half dozen U.S. lawmakers with her met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his top aides for three hours late Saturday to voice American solidarity with the besieged nation and get a first-hand assessment of the effort as she works to steer a massive new Ukraine aid package through Congress.
“Our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is done,” Pelosi is seen telling Zelenskyy in a video of the meeting released by his office. “We are on a frontier of freedom and your fight is a fight for everyone. Thank you for your fight for freedom.”
“You all are welcome,” Zelenskyy told the delegation.
Pelosi told reporters in Poland on Sunday the delegation was proud to convey to Zelenskyy “the message of unity from the Congress of the United States, a message of appreciation from the American people for his leadership and admiration for the people of Ukraine for their courage.” She is set to meet Polish President Andrzej Duda, a NATO ally, on Monday in Warsaw.
The delegation’s trip to Kyiv was not disclosed until the party was safely out of Ukraine. Nor were details given on how they got to the capital and back.
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Scores of U.S. lawmakers have already trekked to the region to witness first hand the war’s toll and shore up U.S. troops in the broader region. A week earlier, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had traveled to Kyiv overland from Poland for talks with Zelenskyy.
Also visiting Ukraine was Angelina Jolie, a filmmaker and Hollywood star.
Take a look —
"Angelina Jolie runs for cover during Lvov air raid siren." pic.twitter.com/B8wG5vxcLa
— Wittgenstein (@backtolife_2022) May 1, 2022
Pelosi’s delegation was especially notable for the seniority of its members. She came with Rep. Gregory Meeks, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, chair of the House Rules Committee; Reps. Barbara Lee of California and Bill Keating of Massachusetts, Crow and Schiff.
Though all in the delegation were Democrats, the U.S. Congress has displayed a rare and, so far, lasting bipartisan resolve to back Ukraine as it battles Russia. Pelosi has branded the war a conflict between democracy and autocracy and vowed Washington will stand with Ukraine until it defeats the invaders.
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In March, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told CBS’s Face the Nation, “The vast majority of the Republican Party writ large, both in Congress and across the country, are totally behind the Ukrainians and urging the president to take these steps quicker, to be bolder.”
McConnell took issue with the liberal media’s attempts to smear Republicans as pro-Putin because of stray remarks by junior-level representatives. “There may be a few lonely voices off to the side,” he said. “I wouldn’t pay much attention to them.”
Sure enough, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of California called Putin a “thug” on the same program in March.
Pelosi even invited some Republicans to Ukraine with her, Crow told National Public Radio on Monday.
“The speaker did invite Republicans, and they were unable to join, unfortunately,” Crow said. “But, you know, this has been a very bipartisan effort.”
The trip also underscored the speaker’s role as an ambassador on the global stage. Pelosi is well known in Europe and elsewhere abroad, typically leads travel delegations and keeps close relations with allies overseas. After this year’s midterm elections, McCarthy may assume this role, representing the U.S. to our European allies.
The delegation’s visit followed those of several EU officials and European heads of state who have gone to show solidarity with Zelenskyy, starting with the March 15 surprise visit by the leaders of the conservative Polish administration and the liberal Czech administration, both of which are NATO members.
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article.