Nancy Pelosi Leads U.S. Delegation to Ukraine in Show of Support
RZESZÓW, Poland—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a delegation of US lawmakers pledged on Sunday to support Ukraine until “victory is won” against Russia after they met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, as Russia’s military advance stalled in Ukraine’s east.
“Our delegation traveled to Kyiv to send an unmistakable and resounding message to the entire world: America stands firmly with Ukraine,” Mrs. Pelosi and the members of Congress who traveled with her said in a statement after their Saturday night meeting with Mr. Zelensky . Ukraine’s president conveyed a clear need for continued US security, economic and humanitarian assistance in Ukraine’s fight to repel the Russian advance, they said.
At a press conference Sunday in Rzeszów, Poland, Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said the US commitment wouldn’t end until “victory is won.” He also noted that the Biden administration has said it wouldn’t send US troops to fight inside Ukraine.
Instead, the delegation said they discussed how the US and its allies could increase their support of Ukraine.
“How do we change the nature of our support to give them new and more advanced weapons to meet the next phase of this battle?” said Rep. Jason Crow (D., Colo.). How does the US help Ukraine “meet their long-term security needs?”
Other members of the all-Democratic delegation included representatives Gregory Meeks, Barbara Lee, Bill Keating and Jim McGovern.
“I am thankful to you for this signal of strong support for Ukraine,” Mr. Zelensky said in a video from his meeting with the US delegation, which was posted to his official Telegram channel on Sunday.
As Russia has shifted its focus toward the eastern Donbas territory, the US has sent Ukraine more advanced weapons for what is expected to be a more conventional battle. They include longer-range weapons, drones and armored personnel carriers. The US also has trained more Ukrainian troops in neighboring states on how to use that equipment.
While in Poland, Mrs. Pelosi is also expected to meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda.
The meetings in Kyiv came after an earlier show of support by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who met with Mr. Zelensky in the Ukrainian capital last weekend.
Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry said Sunday that it had used Onyx cruise missiles to strike an airfield near the port city of Odessa, where it destroyed a “hangar with weapons and ammunition received from the United States and European countries, and also destroyed the runway .”
The ministry said the Russian military also downed two Ukrainian Su-24M bombers in the Kharkiv region and the air force destroyed two Ukrainian S-300 air-defense systems near the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia and in Artemivsk in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine’s Donbas area .
The Russian Defense Ministry hasn’t reported any significant territorial gains in its battles against Ukraine’s armed forces in recent days. The claims of its military strikes could not be independently verified.
Ukrainian media reports said that another Russian general, Andrei Simonov, was killed by Ukrainian artillery fire near the eastern city of Izyum. That couldn’t be independently confirmed. The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In his video address to the nation on Saturday evening, Mr. Zelensky said Russia was losing military hardware and arms at a rate that would seriously hinder its advance in Ukraine’s east. He said Ukrainian forces had destroyed more than 1,000 Russian tanks, almost 2,500 armored personnel carriers and close to 200 Russian planes.
“Yes, they still have missiles to strike at our territory,” he added. “But this war has already weakened Russia so much that they have to plan even less military equipment for the parade in Moscow,” he said, referring to the planned World War II Victory Day commemorations in the Russian capital on May 9.
The coming May 2 edition of Transnistria’s official newspaper features an appeal by local residents asking Russian President Vladimir Putin to let the breakaway Moldovan region’s forces join Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine, Kyiv’s military intelligence service said on Sunday, publishing what it said was the paper’s front page.
The alleged appeal follows explosions in Transnistria, which the local government blamed on Ukrainian saboteurs and which Kyiv dismissed as Russian-orchestrated false-flag attacks.
Moscow and Tiraspol—the capital of Transnistria—didn’t immediately comment on the Ukrainian allegation.
Western officials and defense analysts have warned that Transnistria, which borders Ukraine and hosts some 1,500 Russian troops, could mobilize residents for the war against Ukraine or be used as a staging ground for attacks on the nearby Odessa region.
Moldova on Tuesday said it was placing its security forces on alert following a series of explosions in Transnistria, which the separatist authorities said had struck a military base, two Soviet-era radio towers broadcasting Russian-language stations and the headquarters of the state security service in Tiraspol. No casualties were reported.
Russian state media and pro-Kremlin social media channels have tried to spin the evidence of a stalled Russian push in Ukraine. Russian lawmaker Oleg Matveychev said on Sunday that Mr. Putin, who has repeatedly insisted that Russia’s military campaign is going according to plan, is deliberately creating the illusion of a Russian defeat to catch Ukraine and its Western backers off guard when the Russian military steps up its attack.
“Like a ropewalker he will walk along the edge, keeping the situation such that the Ukrainians and the West believe that Russia is on the verge of collapse,” Mr. Matveychev said in a broadcast on his YouTube channel. “Putin wants to create the sense that he has some weak spots, that he has almost lost, and then suddenly punch you in the gut.”
The developments came after two groups of civilians were evacuated Saturday from a besieged steel plant in the southern city of Mariupol. The groups left through a humanitarian corridor during a temporary cease-fire, Russia’s Defense Ministry reported Sunday.
Twenty-five of 46 civilians left during the day, while the remainder departed at nightfall, the ministry said. The civilians were taken to an undisclosed location and given accommodation, food and the necessary medical assistance, the ministry said.
Archbishop Mitrofan of Gorlovsky and Slavonic, a powerful prelate in Russian Orthodox church hierarchy, took part in organizing the evacuations, Vladimir Legoyda, head of the Synodal Department for the Church’s Relations with Society and Mass Media, wrote on his Telegram channel.
“With the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, Metropolitan Mitrofan of Gorlovsky and Slavonic took part in organizing the exit of civilians,” Mr. Legoyda said.
Mr. Legoyda said the safe exit of the civilians was “a very important result of the negotiations undertaken with the participation of international organizations.”
An Azov battalion fighter holed up in the plant said that many more wounded soldiers needed immediate medical assistance and called for further humanitarian corridors.
—Ann M. Simmons contributed to this article.
Write to Matthew Luxmoore at Matthew.Luxmoore@wsj.com and Nancy A. Youssef at email@example.com
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