Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky invited top US lawmaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, to visit Ukraine as doubts over support for Kyiv’s war efforts simmer in Congress, particularly among conservatives.
Zelensky proposed the visit in an interview with CNN, which was to be broadcast later on Wednesday.
“Mr McCarthy, he has to come here to see how we work, what’s happening here, what war caused us, which people are fighting now, who are fighting now. And then after that, make your assumptions,” Zelensky said, speaking through an interpreter in excerpts released by the outlet.
“I think that Speaker McCarthy, he never visited Kyiv or Ukraine, and I think it would help him with his position,” the Ukrainian leader said.
But McCarthy told CNN that he does not need to visit Ukraine to understand the situation.
McCarthy became speaker of the US House of Representatives in January, making him the top Republican in the US legislature, capable of impeding Democratic President Joe Biden’s strong aid programme for Kyiv.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine more than a year ago, the United States has provided close to $100 billion in military, economic and relief aid for Kyiv.
McCarthy’s Democratic predecessor, Nancy Pelosi, visited Kyiv in May 2022 to demonstrate her support.
While McCarthy has not opposed the aid, he has said more than once that Congress should not be writing “blank checks” to support the war without close scrutiny.
Meanwhile a sizable minority of Republicans in Congress have expressed opposition to arms and financial aid to Ukraine. Some have cited the need to reduce the US budget deficit, while others oppose supporting Ukraine generally.
“My point has always been, I won’t provide a blank check for anything,” McCarthy told CNN. “From that perspective, I don’t have to go to Ukraine to understand where there’s a blank check or not.”
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