March 21, 2022
Click HERE for a high-resolution photo of the Senate Delegation in Poland
Washington, D.C.— After joining eight of their Senate colleagues in a bipartisan delegation visit to Poland and Germany over the weekend, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) participated in a press conference this afternoon to discuss their engagements with top military and political leaders, NGOs, Ukrainian refugees, German government officials, and State Department personnel amid Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.
Senators Collins and King were joined on the Senate CODEL by Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), John Cornyn (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV).
“The most memorable conversation I had in Poland was with a young mother with two young children at a refugee welcome center just a few miles from the Ukrainian border. She said to me, ‘I want to live in peace. I want to be back in Ukraine, but I have to keep my children safe,’” said Senator Collins. “Clearly, the best way to end this humanitarian crisis is to end Putin’s unprovoked, unjustified war on a free, sovereign, and democratic country. Every moment counts, and if we delay, thousands more innocent Ukrainians will die. This extraordinary trip only redoubled my belief that we have to do all that we can in terms of providing weapons and humanitarian assistance to the brave people of Ukraine.”
“Vladimir Putin’s deadly invasion has created unspeakable tragedy and unshakeable unity – and during this CODEL, we saw both on display,” said Senator King. “This unprovoked Russian war has displaced millions of Ukrainians – primarily women, children, the elderly, and other vulnerable people who want nothing more than to peacefully return to their homes and normal lives. This immense suffering is unimaginable – and wholly unnecessary. That is why a broad international coalition has stepped up to provide humanitarian aid, and NATO and other U.S. allies remain unified as we deliver vital military support to the Ukrainian people. These large-scale efforts are helping mitigate the pain of the Ukrainian people, and creating severe complications for the Russian invaders. A first-hand look at the situation makes it clear that our efforts are making a real impact – but also underscores that we must prioritize delivering on the aid and weaponry they need to stand strong against Russia’s aggression.”
At the beginning of the trip, the bipartisan delegation engaged with military leaders from United States Army Europe and Africa (USAREUR-AF) in Wiesbaden, Germany, about the United States’ and NATO alliances’ commitment to freedom over tyranny.
From there, the delegation travelled to Berlin to meet with U.S. ambassador Amy Gutmann and other officials at the U.S. Embassy to get an up-to-date brief on American-German long-term economic and security cooperation goals. The delegation then discussed our continued security partnership with German State Secretary of the Federal Foreign Office Andreas Michaelis. The members met with German Parliamentarians over dinner in Berlin.
The next day, the delegation had an operational briefing with leaders from the 82nd Airborne Division stationed in Poland and learned more about their effort to assist and deter Russia from aggression against NATO. The military leaders then led a discussion with the Senators and non-government organizations (NGOs) helping with the humanitarian needs in Ukraine and throughout Europe.
The bipartisan delegation then visited a refugee processing center near the Ukrainian-Polish border where they saw firsthand how organizations are working with the Polish military and government to care for Ukrainians who’ve fled their homes. During the visit, they met with volunteers from the World Central Kitchen who are helping feed the millions of refugees coming across the border.
The final stop in Poland included discussions State Department officials originally stationed at U.S. Embassy Kyiv and members of Ukrainian civil society. This included a group of passionate women who provided a clear message to the Senators: Ukraine needs more military and lethal aid to win this fight.
On the last day of the CODEL, the delegation visited a U.S. Army base near Grafenwohr, Germany to review the readiness of U.S. Army troops that have surged to support and assure our NATO allies. They received a firsthand briefing of the military mission, met with constituents from each of the states represented on the CODEL deployed to the area, and saw the might of the U.S. Army in action on an armor training range.
The bipartisan CODEL returned to the United States late on Sunday, March 20.