A US Congressional delegation led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi commended the courage of the Ukrainian people in remarks during a visit to Poland on Sunday, a day after a surprise trip to Kyiv to meet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
US lawmakers assessed Ukraine’s needs for the next phase of the war, with Pelosi promising Washington would stand by the country until it defeats Russia.
Pelosi, a California Democrat who is second in line to the presidency after the vice president, was the oldest American lawmaker to visit Ukraine since Russia’s war began more than two months ago. Her previously unannounced visit came just days after Moscow bombed the Ukrainian capital while the UN Secretary-General was there.
Pelosi and half a dozen U.S. lawmakers met with Zelenskyy and his top aides for three hours late Saturday for a first-hand assessment of the war effort so far. Speaking to reporters in Poland on Sunday, delegation members unanimously commended Ukraine’s defense to date, portrayed a good versus evil fight and pledged continued long-term US military, humanitarian and economic support.
“We were proud to deliver to him the message of unity from the United States Congress, a message of appreciation from the American people for his leadership and admiration from the Ukrainian people for his courage,” Pelosi said.
Her visit comes two days after US President Joe Biden asked Congress for $33 billion to bolster Ukraine’s fight against Russia, more than double the original $13.6 billion bailout that was announced enacted by Congress early last month and which is now almost exhausted. As the war drags into its third month, the move was intended to signal Russian President Vladimir Putin that US arms and other forms of support were not going away.
“This is a time when we stand for democracy or allow autocracy to rule the day,” said Rep. Gregory Meeks, a Democrat from New York.
“This is a fight of liberty against tyranny,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California. “And in this fight, Ukraine is at the forefront.”
Rep. Jason Crow, a Colorado Democrat, a veteran and a member of the House Intelligence and Armed Services Committee, said he came to Ukraine with three priorities: “guns, guns and guns.”
“We have to make sure that the Ukrainians have what they need to win. What we have seen over the past two months is their ferocity, their intense pride, their ability to fight and their ability to win when they have the support to do so.”
“The United States of America wants to win and we will stand by Ukraine until victory is achieved,” he added.
The full congressional delegation included Meeks, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee; Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, Chair of the House Rules Committee; Crow, Barbara Lee of California; and Bill Keating of Massachusetts.
“You are all welcome,” Zelenskyi told the delegation, according to a video of the meeting released by his office.
Pelosi told Zelenskyy, “We believe we are visiting you to thank you for your fight for freedom.”
“We are on a frontier of freedom and your fight is a fight for all. Our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is over,” Pelosi added.
The delegation continued its journey in south-eastern Poland, and members later visited the capital, Warsaw, to meet with President Andrzej Duda and other senior officials. Poland has taken in more than 3 million refugees from Ukraine since Russia started its war on February 24.
“We look forward to thanking our Polish allies for their dedication and humanitarian efforts,” Pelosi said.
At a news conference in Poland, Pelosi said she and others in the delegation applauded the courage of the Ukrainian people. She added that the delegation brought Zelenskyy “a message of gratitude from the American people for his leadership.”
McGovern said Russia’s war has implications far beyond Ukraine and said it is exacerbating a food crisis that would be disastrous for poor people around the world.
“Putin’s brutal war is no longer just a war against the Ukrainian people,” McGovern said. “It is also a war against the world’s most vulnerable.”
He added that Ukraine is a “bread basket of the world”.
“I don’t think Putin cares if he’s starving the world,” McGovern said.
A previous version of this story has been corrected to show that Pelosi is second in the presidency, not third.
More AP coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine