Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the Speaker of the House, made a surprise trip to Ukraine this weekend. She led a small Democratic contingent to Kyiv in order to reiterate America’s support for the war-torn nation. Pelosi is the most senior U.S. official to visit Ukraine since the beginning of the war with Russia. It's not surprising that she went to obtain the “atta girl” for herself.
In Kyiv, the Speaker stepped outside alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In a blue suit that was the shade of the Ukrainian flag, Pelosi greeted Zelensky and said she would ensure that the United States supported Ukraine “until the fight is done.” Pelosi declared her visit a “solemn opportunity and extraordinary honor.”
President Zelensky expressed his gratitude for the expression of support from Pelosi, thanking her for “helping to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
President Pelosi was joined by Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-CA), Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-MA), and representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA), William R. Keating (D-MA) and Jason Crow (D-CO). It is important to note that no Republicans were present.
Zelensky expressed gratitude to all the participants of the delegation for the American people’s strong backing of Ukraine and the support of each house of Congress. Massachusetts Rep. Willian Keating noted that lawmakers have been hearing “appalling” claims about the brutality to which the Ukrainian people have been subjected during the conflict. Keating spoke of instances of rape and human trafficking, both of which were perpetrated by Russian soldiers.
Speaker Pelosi called on Congress to vote in favor of Biden's request to provide the additional sum of $33 billion of military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. She urged the United States and its allies not to relent in the face of intimidation from Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Do not let yourself be victimized by bullies. If they're making threats to you, it's impossible to back down. This is my opinion. You can't surrender to a bully,” Pelosi said.
President Biden would like Congress to act quickly in approving his latest funding request. It contains $20 billion in military aid, $8.5 billion to bolster the economy of Ukraine, and $3 billion for humanitarian assistance. The president stated that the price was high but accepting Russian aggression could be more costly.
Republican Rep. Michael McCaul from Texas serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He pointed out that the House was not in session this week. He stated that the coming few months on the ground in Ukraine could become “pivotal” in the war. He noted that Congress did not have plenty of time. “Every day that we don't give Ukraine…more weapons is a day when more people are killed, and a day when they might lose this conflict. I think they'll beat it. But we need to give them the tools they need to achieve it,” McCaul said.
Oksana Markarova, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, said that the meeting between Pelosi and Zelensky is an indication of “very, very strong support” for Ukraine. The platform was used to declare once more that Ukraine will not be a victim of Russian aggression. She claimed that the war was initiated by Russia and will have to be put to rest by Russia. She also said that the Ukrainian people will fight for their country in honor of the fallen.
Speaker Pelosi also traveled to Poland, where she had a meeting with U.S. senior officials to discuss the humanitarian catastrophe caused by Russia. This was on top of an announcement by Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom declaring that it had shut off natural-gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria. The two countries were not willing to pay Russia for its gas in rubles.
The pressure is continuing to increase on Putin, with many hoping for speedy action to end the war in Ukraine.