Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has invited House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to visit Ukraine, amid a growing divide among GOP lawmakers over whether the United States should continue to support the country’s efforts to fight off the Russian invasion.
Zelensky noted that other lawmakers have visited Ukraine to witness what war has done to the country and to see firsthand “the supply routes, every shell, every bullet, every dollar [of aid],” Zelensky told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, according to a preview clip of the interview aired Wednesday morning.
“I think that Speaker McCarthy — he never visited Kyiv or Ukraine. I think it would help him with his position. When they come to us … they see the supply routes, every shell, every bullet, every dollar.
“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.
Both former House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who strongly support continuing to provide aid to Ukraine, have visited Kyiv since Russia invaded, as have several other lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.
McCarthy, who has repeatedly said he supports Ukraine but not “a blank check,” appeared to wave off the notion of traveling to Ukraine.
“I don’t have to go to Ukraine to understand where there’s a blank check or not,” McCarthy told CNN’s Manu Raju on Tuesday.
In December, Zelensky made a surprise visit to Washington to appeal for more aid in an address to a joint meeting of Congress.
“Your money is not charity. It is an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way,” Zelensky said then.
Congress has appropriated billions in aid for Ukraine at the end of last year, which was expected to last through September.
On the first anniversary of the Russian invasion, McConnell urged the United States and its allies to renew their resolve to help Ukraine as it stands up to Russian “thuggery,” tacitly pushing back against members of his own party who have become loudly skeptical of Ukraine’s fight.
“America and our friends need to finish waking up from our holiday from history, welcome Finland and Sweden into NATO by this summer, and make significant investments in military modernization and our defense-industrial capacities that are commensurate with the major challenges we face,” McConnell said.
McConnell’s support stands in stark contrast to former president Donald Trump and some congressional Republicans, who have called for ending or slowing aid to Ukraine. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), a hard-right ally of McCarthy and one of dozens of House Republicans to vote against Ukraine aid in May, called Biden’s trip to Kyiv “insulting” and proof that he “chose Ukraine over America.” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has introduced legislation to end aid to Ukraine.
At a conservative forum last week, Greene said the United States should be pushing for peace in Ukraine “instead of funding and continuing a war that seems to be escalating and putting the entire world at risk of World War Three.”
Liz Goodwin contributed to this report.