Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell showcased his steadfast support for Ukraine over the weekend, making a surprise visit to Kyiv while advocating Congress’ bipartisan $40 billion aid bill and suggesting President Joe Biden designate Russia a state sponsor of terror.
McConnell (R-KY) secretly traveled to Ukraine’s capital city alongside three other GOP senators, where the group met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky before embarking for Stockholm, Sweden, on Saturday. The highest ranking elected Republican, joined by Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX), John Barrasso (R-WY), and Susan Collins (R-ME), will then travel to Helsinki, Finland. McConnell is meeting with the Nordic leaders about NATO membership, something both Sweden and Finland have expressed interest in since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.
The Kentucky senator addressed dissent from prominent members of his own party to the $40 billion Ukraine aid bill while speaking to reporters on a call from Stockholm on Sunday, saying it had “broad” bipartisan support, including from “an overwhelming majority of Republicans.”
“What I assured [Zelensky] — as this is an all-Republican delegation — is that support for Ukraine and this war against the Russians is bipartisan,” he explained. “This naked aggression must not stand. I wanted to assure them that in the Congress, there was very, very broad support.”
As for Republicans who have a problem with the spending deal, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), McConnell noted that “isolationist voices” had always existed in his party. He said, however, that his Kentucky colleague and other Republicans would not prevent the bill from passing.
“Well, it’s no secret. Rand and I have a different world view of the importance of Americans’ role around the world,” the GOP leader said on the Sunday call. “So, that was not surprising. And it won’t create a problem. We’ll get the job done by Wednesday.”
A growing chorus of prominent Republicans had argued that the $40 billion being sent to Ukraine through this latest proposal would be better spent domestically. Asked about this, McConnell rejected the notion that the spending meant needs had to be rej…