The US Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, has joined the growing list of US politicians making visits to Kyiv, it emerged on Saturday
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy welcomed McConnell’s visit as a powerful signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine.
McConnell led a delegation, which included the Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine, John Barrasso of Wyoming and John Cornyn of Texas, to the Ukrainian capital where he was hosted by Zelenskiy at the House of Chimaeras inside the presidential administration compound.
In remarks and video posted on Instagram on Saturday, Zelenskiy told the visitors that Ukraine was defending not only itself but all democratic values and freedoms and the right of people to freely choose their own future.
“Thank you for your leadership in helping us in our struggle not only for our country, but also for democratic values and freedoms. We really appreciate it,” Zelenskiy said.
“Russia is committing genocide against the Ukrainian people,” he added. “[Russia’s President Vladimir Putin] commits war crimes that horrify the whole world – torture, mass executions, rape. Europe has not seen such crimes since World War II.”
The visit comes as a $40bn US military aid budget has stalled in the Senate over demands issued by the Kentucky senator Rand Paul for a watchdog to track the spending.
In a rare bipartisan request, McConnell and the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, offered Paul a vote on his amendment to the package. That offer was rejected with Paul saying he wanted changes to the underlying bill.