Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has led his people in a heroic resistance to Russia’s bloody and unprovoked invasion, which is now in its fourth week. His courageous leadership in the face of danger has reassured his war fighters and rallied the entire free world to their cause. This past week, President Zelenskyy spoke directly to Congress and the American people in a virtual address. He thanked the United States for the weapons and support we have provided, but asked us to do more. In particular, he pled with President Joe Biden to show the resolve that is required to bring an end to this atrocity.
Just days earlier, I had traveled with a bipartisan group of Senators to Poland, where more than two million Ukrainians have fled for safety. We met with U.S. military officials, diplomats, and Poland’s military leadership and were able to observe the humanitarian situation. At the Ukrainian border, we watched as scores of displaced women and children arrived at a makeshift shelter. I spoke with one refugee who had recently survived a nearby Russian missile strike, which killed over 30 civilians. Our delegation returned unified that America can and should do more to end this human tragedy.
Congress Sends Weapons, Humanitarian Aid to Ukraine
Just before our visit, Congress approved $14 billion in defense and humanitarian aid for Ukraine. This aid is helping replenish Ukraine’s war effort, providing more of the anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles that have been so pivotal in slowing the Russian advance. But there is still more to be done. I have called on President Biden to coordinate an international airlift to Ukraine to provide urgent relief for those who are dehydrated, starving, wounded, and desperate for aid.
President Zelenskyy has also urged the West to provide Ukraine with Russian-made MiG fighter jets. These would help defend against Russian bombers that are destroying Ukrainian hospitals, schools, and homes on a daily basis. Poland has offered its MiGs, but debate among U.S. officials has caused the Biden Administration to drag its feet on transferring these planes. I wish the White House would simply act rather than having more public discussion. I have joined Senators from both parties in urging President Biden to provide these jets to Ukraine without delay.
Putin Needs to Learn His Lesson
Vladimir Putin’s admitted goal has always been to reassemble the old Soviet empire. This effort began in 2008 when he invaded Georgia. Then, in 2014, he seized Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine. Both of these hostile acts went unpunished by the Western world. More recently, in the lead-up to the present crisis, President Biden signaled further weakness by publicly setting limits on how the U.S. would defend Ukraine. The encouraging news is that this Russian neighborhood bully is finally getting a bloody nose, principally through the courage and resolve of Ukraine’s President and his countrymen.
I am glad that our European allies are waking up to the Russian threat. Germany, a nation that is heavily dependent on Russian energy, recently canceled the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would have delivered oil straight from Russia. Great Britain has successfully rallied Europe to send weapons to Ukraine and to impose crippling sanctions on the Russian economy. Even the historically neutral country of Switzerland has adopted these sanctions. On every front, Putin is incurring more damage than he bargained for. Every cost we can impose on him for his brutal war crimes makes it more likely that we will see his defeat and ultimate downfall.