April 29, 2023 -WASHINGTON (AP) — “We thought we could die.”
The Russian invasion had just begun when Nancy Pelosi made a surprise visit to Ukraine, the House speaker then the highest-ranking elected U.S. official to lead a congressional delegation to Kyiv.
Pelosi and the lawmakers were ushered under the cloak of secrecy into the capital city, an undisclosed passage that even to this day she will not divulge.
“It was very, it was dangerous,” Pelosi told The Associated Press before Sunday’s one-year anniversary of that trip.
“We never feared about it, but we thought we could die because we’re visiting a serious, serious war zone,” Pelosi said. “We had great protection, but nonetheless, a war — theater of war.”
Pelosi’s visit was as unusual as it was historic, opening a fresh diplomatic channel between the U.S. and Ukraine that has only deepened with the prolonged war. In the year since, a long list of congressional leaders, senators and chairs of powerful committees, both Democrats and Republicans, followed her lead, punctuated by President Joe Biden’s own visit this year.
The steady stream of arrivals in Kyiv has served to amplify a political and military partnership between the U.S. and Ukraine for the world to see, one that will be tested anew when Congress is again expected this year to help fund the war to defeat Russia.
“We must win. We must bring this to a positive conclusion — for the people of Ukraine and for our country,” Pelosi said.
“There is a fight in the world now between democracy and autocracy, its manifestation at the time is in Ukraine.”
With a new Republican majority in the House whose Trump-aligned members have balked at overseas investments, Pelosi, a Democrat, remains confident the Congress will continue backing Ukraine as part of a broader U.S. commitment to democracy abroad in the face of authoritarian aggression.