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Schumer visits Ukraine as Russia advances amid U.S. aid delay

Sen. Chuck Schumer, right, meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday.  (Sen. Chuck Schumer/X)
By Olesia Safronova Washington Post

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made a surprise visit to Ukraine to reassure President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that the U.S. will follow through on the next round of aid, even as it faces obstacles in Congress.

The trip comes on the eve of the two-year mark in Russia’s full-scale invasion with Kyiv’s forces running dangerously low on ammunition and other weaponry. U.S. funding is being held up by House Republicans over a debate about U.S. border policy.

The standoff creates opportunities for Russia to advance on the battlefield, the Ukrainian president has warned. In an interview with Fox News conducted this week, Zelenskyy urged U.S. President Joe Biden and Republican front-runner Donald Trump to visit Ukraine’s frontlines and see the “tragedy” for themselves.

“We are here to show the Ukrainian people that America stands with them and will continue fighting to get the funding they so desperately need and deserve,” Schumer said in a statement Friday on his arrival to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. “We believe we are at an inflection point in history, and we must make it clear to our friends and allies around the globe that the U.S. does not back away from our responsibilities and allies.”

Separately in Lviv, Zelenskyy met with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. Ukraine and Denmark signed a security cooperation agreement, stipulating long-term support and providing Kyiv with an aid package worth €1.8 billion this year.

The visits by Schumer and Frederiksen coincided with another aerial attack on Ukraine. The country’s Air Defense said it shot down 23 out of 31 Shahed-type drones overnight, launched from Russia and occupied Crimea over Ukraine’s central and southern regions.

Kremlin forces also fired several missiles, including S-300s, Kh-31s and Kh-22s, at Ukraine’s eastern regions, in particular Donetsk, Air Defense said without elaborating on whether they were intercepted.

Three people were killed in the southern city of Odesa, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said on Telegram. Dnipropetrovsk regional governor, Serhiy Lysak, said a residential house and a business were hit in the city of Dnipro. At least eight people were injured and another two remained trapped under debris.

Ukraine’s army repelled more than 100 Russian combat attacks on the frontline in the country’s south and east overnight, the Ukrainian General Staff said on Facebook.

Military analysts at the US-based Institute for the Study of War said Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Bakhmut and Avdiivka, while Ukrainian forces conducted a strike against a Russian training ground in occupied Kherson region this week.

Ukraine likely inflicted significant casualties in the operation, ISW said in a post on the X social media platform.

Zelenskyy posted a video of Ukrainian pilots training on F-16 jets in Denmark. “All Ukrainians are waiting for the day when the first Ukrainian F-16s appear in our skies and strengthen the defense of our cities,” he said on X.