Zelensky says he called for recognition of Russia as a 'terrorist state' during meeting with US Senate GOP delegation

Zelensky says he called for recognition of Russia as a ‘terrorist state’ during meeting with US Senate GOP delegation



CNN

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with a congressional delegation led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kyiv on Saturday and called for Russia to be officially recognized as a “terrorist state”, he said. said in his evening address on Saturday.

Zelensky said he discussed with the delegation US support for Ukraine and tougher sanctions against Russia.

“I believe this visit once again demonstrates the strength of bipartisan support for our state, the strength of the ties between the Ukrainian and American nations,” Zelensky said.

CNN previously reported that Zelensky asked President Joe Biden to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

The Ukrainian president added in his remarks on Saturday that he “expressed his gratitude for the historic decision to renew the Lend Lease program” during the visit of the GOP delegation.

Biden signed into law Ukraine’s Lend-Lease in Defense of Democracy Act earlier this week. The new law, which relaxes some of the requirements for the United States to loan or lease military equipment to Ukraine, passed with a bipartisan majority in the US House and Senate. His sponsors said the legislation gives Biden much broader authority to help Ukraine defend against Russia and outlines how the United States can get Ukraine weapons faster.

Zelensky said on his Instagram account earlier Saturday that the GOP delegation’s visit was “a strong signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine from the United States Congress and the American people.”

He added on Instagram: “Thank you for your leadership in helping us in our fight not only for our country, but also for democratic values ​​and freedoms. We really appreciate that.”

Republican senses Susan Collins of Maine, John Barrasso of Wyoming and John Cornyn of Texas were also seen meeting Zelensky in a video and photos posted on the Ukrainian president’s social media accounts.

It was unclear on Saturday evening if the delegation was still in the Ukrainian capital.

McConnell and the other senators became the latest US officials to visit Ukraine since Russia invaded the Eastern European nation in late February. Two weeks ago, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led the first congressional delegation to Ukraine since war broke out. Pelosi, joined by several senior House Democrats, met with Zelensky in Kyiv.

First Lady Jill Biden met last weekend with Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska in Uzhhorod on the Slovakian border at a converted school that now serves as temporary housing for displaced citizens. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with Zelensky in Kyiv last month.

Congress is trying to pass a roughly $40 billion aid bill that would provide Ukraine with military and humanitarian assistance. In a rare show of unity, McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pushed for swift passage of the bill this week, after the House moved the measure forward in a bipartisan vote. The Senate effort, however, was blocked Thursday by GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky who demanded changes to the legislation. The Senate is now expected to pass the bill next week, with Schumer forced to take procedural steps to overcome Paul’s objection, before sending it to President Joe Biden’s office.

A statement posted on Zelensky’s official website following the meeting with GOP senators noted that the Ukrainian leader “expressed the hope that the US Senate will quickly approve an additional funding package to support the people of Ukraine.”

This story has been updated with additional details.

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