A US congressional delegation led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi praised the courage of the Ukrainian people in remarks during a visit to Poland on Sunday, a day after a surprise trip to Kyiv to meet with President Volodymr Zelensky.
The American legislators assessed Ukraine’s needs for the next phase of the war, with Ms Pelosi vowing that Washington would stand with the country until it defeated Russia.
Ms Pelosi, a California Democrat who is second in line to the presidency after the vice president, was the most senior American leader to visit Ukraine since Russia’s war began more than two months ago.
Her previously unannounced visit came just days after Moscow bombed the Ukrainian capital while the UN secretary-general was there.
Ms Pelosi and a half-a-dozen US politicians met for three hours late on Saturday with Mr Zelensky and his top aides to get a first-hand assessment of the war effort to date.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday in Poland, the delegation members were unanimous in praising Ukraine’s defences so far, in painting the battle of one as good against evil and in assuring continued long-term US military, humanitarian and economic support.
“We were proud to convey to him the message of unity from the Congress of the United States, a message of appreciation from the American people for his leadership and admiration for the people of Ukraine for their courage,” Ms Pelosi said.
Their visit came two days after US president Joe Biden asked Congress for 33 billion US dollars (£26 billion) to bolster Ukraine’s fight against Russia, more than twice the size of the initial 13.6 billion US dollars (£10.8 billion) aid measure that Congress enacted early last month and is now almost drained.
With the war dragging into 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 a time we stand up for democracy or we allow autocracy to rule the day,” said Democratic Representative Gregory Meeks.
“This is a struggle of freedom against tyranny,” Democratic Representative Adam Schiff said.
“And in that struggle, Ukraine is on the front lines.”
Democratic Representative Jason Crow, a veteran and a member of the House Intelligence and Armed Services Committee, said he came to Ukraine with three areas of focus: “Weapons, weapons and weapons.”
“We have to make sure the Ukrainians have what they need to win. What we have seen in the last two months is their ferocity, their intense pride, their ability to fight and their ability to win if they have the support to do so.”
“The United States of America is in this to win, and we will stand with Ukraine until victory is won,” he added.
The full congressional delegation included Mr Meeks, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Mr Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee; Jim McGovern, who chairs the House Rules Committee; Mr Crow, Barbara Lee and Bill Keating.
“You all are welcome,” Mr Zelensky told the delegation, according to a video of the encounter released by his office.
Ms Pelosi told Mr 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,” Ms Pelosi added.
The delegation continued its trip in southeast Poland, and members were later visiting the capital, Warsaw, to meet with President Andrzej Duda and other senior officials.
Poland has received more than three million refugees from Ukraine since Russia launched its war on February 24.
“We look forward to thanking our Polish allies for their dedication and humanitarian efforts,” Ms Pelosi said.