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‘We are here until victory is won,’ Pelosi told Ukraine’s president during the meeting.
‘We’ll win and we’ll win together,’ Zelensky said.
Pelosi, a California Democrat who is second in line to the presidency after the vice president, was joined at the meeting by five other Congress members. She is the most senior American lawmaker to visit Ukraine since Russia invaded more than two months ago.
Her visit to Kyiv on Saturday marks a major show of continuing support for the country’s struggle against Moscow.
‘Our delegation traveled to Kyiv to send an unmistakable and resounding message to the entire world: America stands firmly with Ukraine,’ Pelosi said in a statement released Sunday, condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s ‘diabolic invasion’ of the nation.
Moscow calls its actions a ‘special military operation’ to disarm Ukraine and rid it of anti-Russian nationalism fomented by the West. However, Ukraine and other world leaders argue Russia launched an unprovoked war of aggression.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (left) made a secret visit to Kyiv on Saturday to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (right). Zelensky honored Pelosi with the Order of Princess Olga, a civil decoration bestowed upon women for outstanding service to Ukraine
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi pose for a picture with members of their entourage during their meeting in Kyiv
Footage released by Zelensky’s office showed Pelosi and other U.S. legislators in Kyiv. In video later released by Pelosi’s office, the speaker and Zelensky both thanked each other for their support in the war.
Pelosi led the congressional delegation to Kyiv to meet with Ukraine’s president before heading to Poland for talks with officials there on Sunday.
The full congressional delegation included Democratic Reps. Gregory Meeks of New York who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Adam Schiff, of California who chairs the House Intelligence Committee; Jim McGovern of Massachusetts who chairs the House Rules Committee; Jason Crow of Colorado; Barbara Lee of California; and Bill Keating of Massachusetts.
‘You all are welcome,’ Zelensky told the delegation.
Pelosi told Zelensky: ‘We believe that we are visiting you to say thank you for your fight for freedom.’
‘We are on a frontier of freedom and your fight is a fight for everyone. Our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is done,’ Pelosi added.
The visit wasn’t previously announced.
‘We are here until victory is won,’ Pelosi told Ukraine’s president during the meeting
Pelosi and U.S. lawmakers meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his team
Pelosi and Zelensky shake hands as they meet face-to-face in Ukraine on Saturday
The delegation continued its trip in southeast Poland, and Pelosi said they would later visit the capital, Warsaw, to meet with President Andrzej Duda and other senior officials. Poland has received more than 3 million refugees from Ukraine since Russia launched its war on Feb. 24.
‘We look forward to thanking our Polish allies for their dedication and humanitarian efforts,’ she said.
In 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 Zelensky ‘a message of appreciation from the American people for his leadership.’
Schiff said the U.S. lawmakers had a three-hour meeting with Zelensky and his administration, talking about sanctions, weapons and aid assistance. Schiff promised that intelligence sharing would continue between Ukraine and the U.S.
‘This is a struggle of freedom against tyranny,’ Schiff said. ‘And in that struggle, Ukraine is on the front lines.’
McGovern said Russia’s war had repercussions far beyond Ukraine, saying it was exacerbating a food crisis that would be disastrous for poor people across the globe.
‘Putin’s brutal war is no longer only a war against the people of Ukraine,’ McGovern said. ‘It’s also a war against the world’s most vulnerable.’
He added that Ukraine is a ‘breadbasket of the world.’
‘I don’t think that Putin cares if he starves the world,’ McGovern said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi leads a team of Congress members to Kyiv to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky (not pictured) on Saturday
During Saturday’s meeting, Zelensky presented Pelosi with the Order of Princess Olga award for ‘her significant personal contribution to strengthening Ukrainian-American interstate cooperation and supporting sovereign, independent and democratic Ukraine’
Western nations have imposed broad economic sanctions on Russia and have been shipping increasing quantities of weapons to help Ukraine defend itself.
Pelosi said on Friday she hoped to pass a $33billion aid package for Ukraine that President Joe Biden has requested ‘as soon as possible’.
Russia’s defense ministry said on Sunday it had carried out a missile strike on a military airfield near the port city of Odesa, destroying a runway and a hangar containing weapons and ammunition supplied to Ukraine by the United States and European countries.
On Saturday, Ukraine said Russian missiles had knocked out a newly constructed runway at Odesa’s main airport.
It was unclear if they were referring to the same incident and Reuters could not immediately verify the reports.
An Ukrainian flag is seen on a damaged building in Makariv village of Kyiv on Saturday
Pelosi (pictured in Poland on Sunday) hopes to pass a $33billion aid package for Ukraine that President Joe Biden has requested ‘as soon as possible’
A damaged building is seen in Makariv village of Kyiv on Saturday
Moscow has turned its focus to Ukraine’s south and east after failing to capture Kyiv in the early weeks of a war that has flattened cities, killed thousands of civilians and forced more than 5 million to flee the country.
Russia’s defense ministry accused Ukraine’s forces of shelling a school, kindergarten and cemetery in villages in the occupied southern Kherson region, the Russian RIA news agency said on Sunday.
The ministry said civilians had been killed and wounded but gave no further details. There was no immediate response from Ukraine and Reuters could not independently verify the report.
Russian forces captured the town of Kherson, 60 miles (100 km) north of Russian-annexed Crimea, in March and since then have mostly occupied Mariupol, a strategic eastern port city on the Azov Sea.
Ukraine’s military said in a bulletin on Sunday that Russian forces were fighting to break beyond Kherson’s administrative borders and prepare the way for attacks on the cities of Mykolayiv and Kryvyi Rih.
A man speaks with a person through the broken windows of a store in Makariv village of Kyiv on Saturday
Wooden safety barriers have been erected around holes caused by missiles in Makariv village of Kyiv. This photo was taken on Saturday
A view of destruction in the city of Mariupol under the control of Russian military and pro-Russian separatists on Friday
In Mariupol, Russia declared victory on April 21 even as hundreds of holdout Ukrainian troops and civilians took shelter in the city’s bombed out Azovstal steel works, where they have been trapped with little food, water or medicine.
On Saturday, a Ukrainian fighter inside said that 20 women and children had made it out of the sprawling plant.
‘We are getting civilians out of the rubble with ropes – it’s the elderly, women and children,’ said the fighter, Sviatoslav Palamar.
Palamar said Russia and Ukraine were respecting a local ceasefire.
Russia’s defense ministry said on Sunday that 46 civilians had left the area around the steel plant the previous day.
Speaking to thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square for his noon blessing on Sunday (pictured), Pope Francis said Mariupol had been ‘barbarously bombarded and destroyed’ in a war he called a ‘macabre regression of humanity’
Speaking to thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square for his noon blessing on Sunday, Pope Francis said Mariupol had been ‘barbarously bombarded and destroyed’ in a war he called a ‘macabre regression of humanity’.
In the east, Moscow is pushing for complete control of the Donbas region, where Russian-backed separatists already controlled parts of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces before the invasion. Russian forces carried out missile strikes across the south and east on Saturday, Ukrainian officials said.
On Sunday, Kharkiv region governor Oleh Synehubov warned residents in the north and east of the city of Kharkiv to remain in their shelters due to heavy Russian shelling. Reuters could not immediately verify reports of shelling in the area.
Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, in a post on social media on Sunday, urged people to evacuate while it was still possible.
Zelensky said in a late-night video address on Saturday that Russia was ‘gathering additional forces for new attacks against our military in the east of the country’ and ‘trying to increase pressure in the Donbas’.
Despite weeks of peace talks, both sides looked to be as far apart as ever on Saturday.
Ukraine accuses Russian troops of carrying out atrocities in areas near Kyiv from which they have since been pushed back in early April, a claim denied by Moscow. Negotiators last met face-to-face on March 29 and have since spoken by video link.
A view of destruction in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Friday
A view of an explosion crater filled with water in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Friday
A damaged building is seen in Makariv village of Kyiv on Saturday
Source: Daily Mail