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McConnell leads GOP visit to Kyiv; Mariupol rescue talks ‘difficult’

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, center, poses for a picture in Kyiv with, from left, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.). (Ukrainian Presidential Press Ser/Via Reuters)
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed a delegation of Republican senators led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) to Kyiv on Saturday, praising the visit as “a strong signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine.”

The other GOP senators visible in a video, which shows Zelensky greeting them on a Kyiv street, were John Barrasso (Wyo.), Susan Collins (Maine) and John Cornyn (Tex.). Though the Senate has been delayed in approving nearly $40 billion in additional funding for Ukraine, Zelensky said he was looking forward to “the United States’ support for further sanctions.”

Russia’s foreign minister, meanwhile, characterized Western support for Ukraine as a “total hybrid war” against Moscow. The wide-ranging sanctions directed against Russia would have long-lasting consequences, Sergei Lavrov said in a speech.

In Mariupol, another round of evacuees left the city after waiting for three days. The Azovstal steel plant continues to be bombarded, Ukrainian fighters said, as Ukrainian officials negotiate with Russia to evacuate 60 medics and “seriously wounded” people. Zelensky described the negotiations as “very difficult” late Friday.

Here’s what else to know

  • Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra has won the Eurovision Song Contest, giving Ukraine the right to host the massively popular spectacle in 2023.
  • Finnish President Sauli Niinisto told Vladimir Putin on Saturday that Russia’s “massive invasion of Ukraine” and its demands late last year that NATO deny membership to former Soviet states “have altered the security environment of Finland.”
  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is traveling to Berlin to join a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting attended by Sweden and Finland after both countries’ leaders indicated they wanted to join the military alliance.
  • Ukrainian Health Minister Viktor Lyashko said 32 billion hryvnias, or more than $1 billion, was needed to help rebuild the hospitals damaged or destroyed by Russia during the invasion.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.
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