Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell led a congressional delegation to visit the Ukrainian capital on Saturday. The unannounced trip included Republican Senators John Cornyn of Texas, Susan Collins of Maine, and John Barrasso of Wyoming.
McConnell unveiled the trip after he "just left" Ukraine, calling it an "honor" to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky. The McConnell statement stressed that the group of US officials "reaffirmed" to Zelensky "that the United States stands squarely behind Ukraine and will sustain our support until Ukraine wins this war. It is also essential that America not stand alone." Crucially, Zelensky used the occasion to argue that the US should designate Russia as a "terrorist state".
McConnell's statement continued: "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."
The Republican delegation's talk of "victory" echoes statements by Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when she met with Zelensky in Kiev at the start of this month. She had stated at the time from neighboring Poland just after her trip that Washington will support the Ukrainians "until victory is won" against Russia.
As we noted at the time this has made some European allies nervous, given it signals a US willingness to abandon diplomacy and negotiations toward ceasefire altogether, in favor of continued escalation but with little definable end goal objectives of what "victory" will amount to. France's Emmanuel Macron in particular has reportedly pressed Zelensky on being willing to make some territorial compromises with Russia, particularly in the east, which Kiev has apparently rejected.
Zelensky's request to the group of senators for the US to designate Russia "as a terrorist state" comes on the heels of a similar request given to UK lawmakers.
The visiting US politicians all stride in with the exact same choreographed entrance and photo-op https://t.co/pjpsNk5qjF
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) May 14, 2022
Though President Joe Biden and top US officials have recently used to term "genocide" to describe Russia's action in Ukraine, which has been met with some considerable controversy given the UN definition for application of the word has strict meaning, there's yet been no formal move for a 'terrorism' label applied to Russia. Possibly the administration is keeping this as leverage to threaten later.