A group of three influential senators traveled to Kiev and met with President Volodymyr Zelensky. Accompanied by country music singer Brad Paisley, the lawmakers called for the defeat of Russian President Vladimir Putin and pledged more weapons for Ukraine.
The three senators, Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mark Kelly (D-AZ), met with Zelensky on Wednesday. In a press release from his office, Manchin called for Putin to be defeated without providing a clear meaning of what that entails. “After this visit, I am even more convinced that defeating Vladimir Putin and ending his ruthless war against the Ukrainian people must remain our top priority,” he said.
Senator Murkowski claimed the visit inspired her to vote to send more military aid to Ukraine. The senator explained, “As I return home, I’m more thankful than ever for the blessings of our American democracy, and more committed than ever to ensuring that Congress provides the assistance that Ukraine needs.”
In his statement, Kelly echoed both of his colleagues. “For the sake of democracy, freedom, and our vital national security interests, Putin must lose this war,” he said. “We must do more, and when I return to the Senate, I’ll continue working with my colleagues and our military leaders to get Ukraine the weapons and support they need to win.”
Zelensky asked the American lawmakers to remove restrictions on the weapons it supplies, a statement from his office said. The Ukrainian president has been pressing NATO countries to provide Kiev with Western-made warplanes. So far, President Joe Biden has resisted calls to send F-16s to Ukraine.
Denmark is attempting to build a coalition that aims to have multiple counties transfer fighter jets to Ukraine. Washington and London have started to train Ukrainian pilots on Western warplanes.
Zelensky, Murkowski and Kelly framed the conflict in Ukraine as a war for democracy. However, since the Russian invasion, Zelensky has nationalized the media and outlawed his opposition. Additionally, Kiev is waging a culture war against a branch of Orthodox Christians it believes is too close to Moscow.