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Pelosi leads congressional delegation to meet with Zelenskyy in Kyiv

Pelosi is the highest-ranking U.S. politician to visit Ukraine during the war, with the surprise visit adding momentum to the West’s support for the fight against Russia.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a congressional delegation to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.

Pelosi is now the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Ukraine during the war, with the surprise visit adding to the growing momentum behind the West’s support for the country's fight against Russia.

The trip comes as Moscow's refocused military campaign in Ukraine's east struggles to make significant gains, and as Kyiv's allies step up with increasing military supplies, with both sides appearing to be settling in for a prolonged conflict.

“We are visiting you to say thank you for your fight for freedom,” Pelosi said during a meeting with Ukrainian officials, according to a video posted to Zelenskyy's official Telegram account early Sunday. “Your fight is a fight for everyone, and so our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is done.”

Zelenskyy said he was “very grateful for this powerful signal of support.”

“This shows that the United States today is a leader in strong support for Ukraine during the war against the aggression of the Russian Federation,” Zelenskyy said

Zelenskyy's office released images and video of the surprise visit Sunday morning.AP

Those accompanying Pelosi on the trip, which had not been previously announced, included Reps. Jason Crow, D-Colo., Jim McGovern, D-Mass., Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., and Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

The trip is the second major visit from American officials in the span of a week. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with Zelenskyy last Sunday and made fresh promises of military and diplomatic support.

The U.S. and many countries in Europe have pledged to send a variety of defensive weapons to help Ukraine hold off Russian advances.

Crow, a veteran and a member of the House intelligence and armed services committees, said he came to Ukraine with three areas of focus: “Weapons, weapons and weapons.”

Russia has not taken the growing Western involvement lightly.

Escalating rhetoric from the Kremlin and state media, combined with a move to cut off the gas supply to Poland and Bulgaria, have pushed analysts to worry that Ukraine is now just one part of a multi-front struggle between Russia and the West.

Pelosi said in a statement posted to the speaker's website that the trip was meant "to send an unmistakable and resounding message to the entire world: America stands firmly with Ukraine."

The delegation will now travel to Poland to meet with President Andrzej Duda, it said, adding that the trip would help inform coming legislation meant to further support for Ukraine.

President Joe Biden asked Congress on Thursday for an additional $33 billion in Ukraine aid.

Zelenskyy "conveyed the clear need for continued security, economic and humanitarian assistance from the United States to address the devastating human toll taken on the Ukrainian people by Putin’s diabolic invasion," Pelosi said, "and our delegation proudly delivered the message that additional American support is on the way as we work to transform President Biden’s strong funding request into a legislative package."

Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Bill Keating, D-Mass., were also part of the delegation, though it was unclear if they made the trip to Kyiv.

The group's trip to Poland comes as the country warns that its resources for handling an influx of almost 3 million refugees fleeing the war are dwindling. The NATO member, which is also dealing with the Russian gas cutoff, has been a crucial hub for Western weapons and aid shipments heading to neighboring Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters Sunday in Poland, Pelosi said the delegation that met with Zelenskyy was "proud to convey to him the message of unity from the Congress of the United States, a message of appreciation from the American people for his leadership and admiration for the people of Ukraine for their courage.”

She added that she was “dazzled” by Zelenskyy’s expertise on all the issues at hand and described him at their meeting as “a remarkable masterclass of leadership.”