Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and a group of Republican Senators met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a previously unannounced trip to Kyiv.

President Zelensky said the visit “is a strong signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine from the United States Congress and the American people,” according to a post on his Instagram account.

The meeting included Republican Senators John Barrasso, Susan Collins and John Cornyn, according to images of the meeting; it is unclear whether the meeting took place on 14 May or if the delegation is still in Ukraine.

“Thank you for your leadership in helping us in our struggle not only for our country, but also for democratic values and freedoms. We really appreciate it,” Mr Zelensky said.

Andrij Sybiha, a member of Mr Zelensky’s administration, said on Facebook that Ukraine’s president had “ended a meeting with influential American Republican senators” who are “true friends of Ukraine.”

The meeting comes as members of Congress consider a $40bn aid package for Ukraine against Russia’s assault, which was held up by GOP Senator Rand Paul, whose vote blocked a unanimous consent passage of the the bipartisan deal.

Their visit also follows the first congressional delegation visit Kyiv during the crisis, a surprise trip led by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and joined by a group of House members, to “send an unmistakable and resounding message to the entire world: America stands firmly with Ukraine,” the speaker announced in a statement on 1 May.

This is a developing story

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