Zelenskyy Made Secret Phone Call to Mitch McConnell on Oligarch Assets
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the US last week to shore up support for Ukraine.
- Zelenskyy called McConnell one day before the visit, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
- Zelenskyy urged McConnell to support a measure that ultimately passed Congress, the outlet reported.
Following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s historic visit to the US last week, Congress passed a provision to give Ukraine the assets that were seized from sanctioned Russian oligarchs.
The approval of the measure may have had something to do with a secret phone call between Zelenskyy and Sen. Mitch McConnell, according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The outlet reported Thursday that the Ukrainian president called the Senate minority leader one day before his White House visit and address to Congress.
Three unnamed sources told the Post-Gazette about the call, in which Zelenskyy attempted to persuade McConnell that proceeds from the oligarchs’ seized assets, including superyachts and mansions, should be used to help Ukraine rebuild from the devastation of the war.
The provision ultimately passed as an amendment to the $1.7 trillion bipartisan spending bill that passed the Senate in a 68-29 vote on December 22, and passed the House the following day. The bill also included $45 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine.
President Joe Biden signed the bill into law Thursday evening.
During Zelenskyy’s visit the US also announced an additional $1.85 billion in military assistance to Ukraine.
The US has frozen or seized billions of dollars worth of assets belonging to sanctioned Russian oligarchs since the invasion was launched in February. The US was limited in how it could use those assets, though President Joe Biden as early as April floated a plan to sell those assets to help Ukraine.
Representatives for McConnell and Zelenskyy did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.