McConnell, GOP senators to visit Helsinki amid NATO talks

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and a delegation of GOP senators are due to visit Helsinki on Monday for talks with Finland’s president as the previously neutral Nordic nation bordering Russia seeks NATO membership

Via AP news wire
Sunday 15 May 2022 16:00

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and a delegation of GOP senators are due to visit Helsinki on Monday for talks with Finland's president as the previously neutral Nordic nation bordering Russia seeks NATO membership.

McConnell is a staunch supporter of the Western military alliance, and the visit by the Republicans who made a surprise stop over the weekend to Ukraine's capital delivers a show of American support for the region as Ukraine battles the Russian invasion.

The office of Finland's president, Sauli Niinisto, said Sunday that McConnell and Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, John Barrasso of Wyoming and John Cornyn of Texas will meet to discuss Finland’s NATO membership, the Ukraine war and other issues. McConnell's office confirmed the visit.

McConnell was in Stockholm on Sunday while leading diplomats from the 30 NATO member states met in Berlin to discuss providing more support to Ukraine and moves by Finland, Sweden and others to join NATO in the face of threats from Russia.

The high-level meeting comes as the Congress is working to approve $40 billion in military aid to Ukraine, a substantial infusion of support for the region. The measure includes $6 billion for Ukraine for intelligence, equipment and training for its forces, plus $4 billion in financing to help Ukraine and NATO allies build up their militaries.

The latest round of assistance would push U.S. support to Ukraine beyond $50 billion, which has raised concerns from some conservative Republicans wary of the price of overseas spending. The measure stalled in the Senate over the objection of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., but McConnell is determined to see that it passes in the coming week.

“They’re only asking for the resources they need to defend themselves against this deranged invasion,” McConnell said this past week of the Ukrainians. “And they need this help right now.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who already pushed the aid through the House with bipartisan votes, said on CNN's “State of the Union” about the Senate Republicans: “They couldn’t pass the Ukraine bill with the senators going over to Ukraine empty-handed with a promise. We passed the bill."

On Saturday, McConnell and his colleagues met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and afterward issued a statement after leaving the country: “Our delegation reaffirmed to President Zelenskyy that the United States stands squarely behind Ukraine and will sustain our support until Ukraine wins this war."

McConnell added: “It is squarely in our national interest to help Ukraine achieve victory in this war and to help Ukraine and other countries deter other wars of aggression before they start.”

Zelensky, in his nightly video address Saturday, said he believed that the senators' trip showed "the strong connection between the Ukrainian and American people. We discussed various areas of support for our country, including defense and finance, as well as strengthening sanctions against Russia.”

It was the second high-profile congressional delegation to stop in Ukraine in as many weeks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., visited on May 1 with a group of House Democrats and promised Zelenskyy that the United States will “be there for you until the fight is done.”

First lady Jill Biden visited western Ukraine last weekend for a Mother’s Day meeting with Zelenskyy's wife, Olena Zelenska.

___

Associated Press writer Jari Tanner in Helsinki contributed to this report.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in