WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, yesterday took to the Senate floor to offer remarks blasting Vladimir Putin’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine and report on his observations after visiting the Polish-Ukrainian border last weekend.
Wicker underscored the consensus of all four members of his delegation – both Republican and Democrat – that much more assistance from the United States is needed to end the atrocity in Ukraine. He added that there is no time to waste in offering more high-end weapons to Ukrainian forces, such as Polish MiG fighter jets and drone assistance.
The Senator also remarked on the tragedies he saw in real time during his visit and the need for immediate action from the United States.
Read his full remarks as delivered below:
Thank you, and I thank my dear friend from Ohio.
I see that we’ve been joined by my friend from Connecticut. We did have a bipartisan, American delegation in Poland and on the Ukrainian border this weekend.
I don’t recommend for tourism purposes a weekend trip to Eastern Europe and back. It is pretty hard on the anatomy.
But I think we flew the colors for the United States and the United States Senate and made a bipartisan point.
My colleagues can speak for themselves about where exactly they come down on these issues, but it was clear from the statements we made that the United States can do more and should be doing more.
And I call on the administration tonight to listen to the learned words of the distinguished Senator from Ohio – yes, I support the MiGs from Poland and from other Eastern European countries.
I think the debate got awfully heightened. I don’t know why we needed to have an international discussion among allies about that rather than just do it.
Maybe that should just be a lesson to us on other decisions, which I hope we are about to make.
But there are certainly other weapons that we can facilitate in delivering.
Does it make any sense, Madam President, to say smaller weapons delivered from the United States are okay to fire against the Russian aggressors in Putin's war, but more effective MiG aircraft from NATO somehow would be escalatory?
Listen, our friends are in a war against the remaining dictator and tyrant on the face of the earth.
And if we're not willing – as we're not – to get involved directly in that war, yes, we ought to give our friends the weapons they need to win.
And let me say this. I hear debate in the newspaper and in the media, even today, about an off ramp for what Putin would agree to simply quit fighting. We give him some of the territory that he thinks he's already conquered. Ukraine would get to have part of their country and everything would be okay.
It makes me feel like somehow I've been transported to 1938 and 1939, hearing talk about what Adolf Hitler might agree to avoid a world war.
Now, Madam President, it is my understanding that the distinguished Majority Leader has a unanimous consent request, and I'm willing to defer our debate at this point to accommodate some administrative matters that need to be taken care of.
Madam President, I thank the distinguished majority leader for working with the distinguished minority leader and with Senator Graham for bringing this important legislation to the floor tonight.
It says what many of us have been saying for a long time, and which I wish the President of the United States, our commander-in-chief, will explicitly say tonight or tomorrow.
Vladimir Putin is a serial war criminal and he should be investigated by the war crimes authorities internationally, brought to justice, and made to pay – not only for his genocide and war crimes of the last two and a half weeks, but also for Aleppo and Grozny and the tens of thousands of innocent civilians that he has killed by his desires out of some other century to conquer his neighbors.
I was mentioning 1938 and 1939.
Madam President, when Hitler went into the Sudetenland, he told naive Western governments, that'll be the end of it.
If we get that, we'll have peace in our time.
And some leaders of the allies were convinced that that was true.
Vladimir Putin hasn't even said he's going to stop with Ukraine.
So who in the world thinks that if he gets away with this, he'll stop there?
I don't believe he will.
And here's why not.
Not only Aleppo, not only Grozny, but this is a man who without question
, poisons his political opponents when they leave the country to get medical treatment.
He causes them to be charged for breaking the terms of their parole and puts them in prison.
That's his political opponent, Mr. Navalny, who had the temerity to be a candidate for president against Mr. Putin.
We're talking about the Vladimir Putin who authorizes the assassination of former members of the Russian government because they have the temerity to oppose him.
We're talking about the very same person in Vladimir Putin – who jails persons for years and years
, who dare to oppose him and disagree with him publicly, who invents enormous lies and get some people even in the West to believe it when he broadcasts those enormous lies through his monopoly of the media.
This man can be stopped in this Ukrainian war.
And we are going to hear tomorrow morning from a courageous leader who has risen beyond the expectations of so many people in the free world, President Zelenskyy.
I intend to be there along with my colleagues, wishing him the best.
I think I can say for our delegation we might have nuances on how these things can be done.
But we're united on ideas like getting the Polish MiGs somehow into the hands of the Ukrainian fighter pilots who can then use them to win the war, the equipment from other NATO countries and European countries enhancing Ukraine's air defense and sending more troops to harden the borders of the eastern flank NATO allies.
I would say to the president of the United States, Mr. Biden, you have been too risk averse, too late, from time to time, from step to step, on all of the sanctions that we've needed, on the delivery of weapons.
We brought the administration along, but they've been a day late or a couple of days late or a week late.
It's time for us to show international leadership on this.
Even today, almost three weeks into the war, we have not yet dropped the full load of sanctions on Russia. We need to do that.
And I call on the President and the administration to listen to those of us who were just in Eastern Europe.
History shows that weakness breeds war. Instead of pacifying tyrants, weakness emboldens tyrants like Vladimir Putin.
The good news is that with the help of NATO and Western arms, the Ukrainian military has defied all expectations.
The intelligence reports that we heard on the public media – and this had nothing secret – was that within three or four days the Ukrainian military would be overrun by this vast Russian military behemoth.
That's not happened. In fact, these people defending their homeland, defending their country through the leadership of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, have shown courage.
They refuse to flee and they've rallied the American people and the entire world in a lesson of leadership.
If President Zelenskyy survives until the morning, I will be cheering him from Capitol Hill on his remarks, just as the British Parliament did last week.
This war is far from over.
Suffering and dying and refugees will continue every day.
And I call on President Biden to recognize that Vladimir Putin is not simply at war with Ukraine, but he is at war with the entire free world.
And this is our best opportunity to step in and help.
Our Baltic states and our Baltic allies in NATO understand this.
They know they can be next on Putin's kill list.
Now is our moment to make sure this is the last time that Putin and his band of war criminals invade a sovereign country.
We watched it happen with the Transnistria.
We watched it happen with the Republic of Georgia in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
We watched it happen with the Donbas and with Crimea.
It's time to stop Vladimir Putin's expansionism.
We should be enabling the Ukrainians to defend their own airspace.
And we have not yet done all we can do. We need to be creative.
But Madam President, we need to take calculated risks because the future of the rules-based world order is at stake.
Western deterrence has so far failed and now Putin is thinking he can succeed in shredding the rulebook of the post-Cold War international order.
It is up to us, and it is up to our commander-in-chief to restore faith in that order and to protect the free world.
And I'm glad to be joined on the floor with my friend, the distinguished senior senator from Connecticut, and was honored to join him and our other colleagues on the trip this last weekend to Eastern Europe.
The Senator from Connecticut is correct to commend the massive effort to prevent the humanitarian suffering in Ukraine and in Poland.
The dozens of non-governmental organizations, such as the World Food Kitchen, the USAID agency, a part of our federal government, the World Food Program, the diplomatic corps, both of the United States and our allies, and certainly our American military, the 82nd Airborne.
But let me conclude by making this profoundly important point.
What we have heard tonight Madam President, on both sides of the aisle, are bipartisan calls for us to do more.
In this system that we have under our Constitution, we have one commander-in-chief at a time.
And we have heard from Democrats and Republicans tonight on the floor of the United States Senate that we need to do more.
This administration needs to do more.
This commander-in-chief can do more and needs to do more to help this small country preserve their freedom, to win against this war criminal and his unprovoked aggression, and to preserve the international order that has governed nations, civilized nations, for decades and decades.
I hope the administration is hearing the bipartisan message that we bring back from our observations and that we are hearing from our constituents.
And I yield back to my dear friend from Ohio.