By VANESSA GERA, Associated Press
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A U.S. Congressional delegation led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hailed the courage of the Ukrainian people during a visit to Poland on Sunday, the day after a surprise trip to kyiv to meet with the president. Volodymr Zelenskyy.
US lawmakers have assessed Ukraine’s needs for the next phase of the war, with Pelosi promising that Washington will stand by the country until it defeats Russia.
Pelosi, a California Democrat who sits second in the presidency after the vice president, was the highest-ranking U.S. lawmaker to visit Ukraine since the war in Russia began more than two months ago. His 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 for three hours Saturday night with Zelenskyy and his top aides to get a first-hand assessment of the war effort so far. Speaking to reporters in Poland on Sunday, members of the delegation were unanimous in praising Ukraine’s defenses so far, describing the battle of one as good versus evil and ensuring military support , humanitarian and economic long-term American.
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“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 for the Ukrainian people for their courage,” Pelosi said.
Their visit came two days after US President Joe Biden asked Congress for $33 billion to bolster Ukraine’s fight against Russia, more than double the initial aid measure of $13.6 billion. dollars that Congress signed into law early last month and which is now nearly exhausted. As the war enters its third month, the measure was designed to signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin that US weaponry and other forms of assistance were not going away.
“This is the time when we stand up for democracy or allow autocracy to rule the day,” said Rep. Gregory Meeks, a Democrat from New York.
“This is a fight of freedom against tyranny,” said Representative Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California. “And in this fight, Ukraine is on the front line.”
Rep. Jason Crow, a Democrat from Colorado, a veteran and member of the House Intelligence and Armed Services Committee, said he came to Ukraine with three areas of interest: “Guns, guns and guns.”
“We have to make sure 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 if they have the backing to do so.
“The United States of America is here to win, and we will stand with Ukraine until victory is won,” he added.
The full congressional delegation included Meeks, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee; Jim McGovern of Massachusetts who chairs the House Rules Committee; Crow, Barbara Lee of California; and Bill Keating of Massachusetts.
“You are all welcome,” Zelenskyy 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 the frontier of freedom and your fight is a fight for everyone. Our commitment is to be here for you until the fight is over,” Pelosi added.
The delegation continued its journey in south-eastern Poland and the members then traveled to the capital, Warsaw, to meet with President Andrzej Duda and other senior officials. Poland has taken in more than 3 million Ukrainian refugees since Russia launched its war on February 24.
“We look forward to thanking our Polish allies for their dedication and humanitarian efforts,” Pelosi said.
Speaking at a press conference in Poland, Pelosi said she and other members of the delegation applauded the courage of the Ukrainian people. She added that the delegation brought Zelenskyy “a message of appreciation from the American people for his leadership.”
McGovern said Russia’s war had repercussions far beyond Ukraine, saying it was exacerbating a food crisis that would be disastrous for the world’s poor.
“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 “breadbasket of the world”.
“I don’t think Putin cares about starving the world,” McGovern said.
An earlier version of this story has been corrected to show Pelosi is second in line after the presidency, not third.
More AP coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
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