Three senators met with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday, pledging more military and economic assistance to the besieged nation.
Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democrats Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island held a press conference in St. Michael’s Square in Kyiv. There, the three promised to push for continued financial support to the country and floated terrorism designations for Russia and a paramilitary organization.
“The Ukrainian military needs tanks. I am tired of the shit show surrounding who is going to send tanks and when are they going to send them. Putin is trying to rewrite the map of Europe by force of arms. World order is at stake,” Graham said. “To the Germans: Send tanks to Ukraine because they need them. It is in your own national interest that Putin loses in Ukraine. To the Biden administration: Send American tanks so that others will follow our lead.”
.@LindseyGrahamSC, @SenWhitehouse, & I have met with @ZelenskyyUa & his top military team. Our trip to Ukraine shows that Republicans & Democrats are standing strongly together to give our wholehearted, steadfast support to Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/QhNyrkisrC
— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) January 20, 2023
The U.S. is urging Germany to send tanks to Ukraine to help the country push back against a renewed Russian offensive. However, Germany will not do so unless the U.S. sends its M1 Abrams tanks, which the Pentagon is reportedly reluctant to do, citing the logistical challenges of the tanks’ upkeep. (RELATED: Congress’ Massive Spending Bill Sets Aside Another $45 Billion For Ukraine)
“I am as deeply concerned as ever because we are at a critical turning point, a historic fork in the road, for this conflict,” Blumenthal added. “It is a time of maximum danger but also maximum opportunity. The Russians are on the verge of a major counter-offensive that will be as barbaric and inhumane as all of what they have done.”
The senators are also urging Congress designate paramilitary organization the Wagner Group as a terrorist organization. Operated by oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, the mercenary band has been accused of killing civilians and committing mass rapes. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby announced Friday the U.S. Treasury would designate the group a “transnational criminal organization.”
“We are keenly aware that in the last year Ukrainian families have experienced a lot of suffering, and many mourn loved ones,” Whitehouse said. “We are going to go back together and try and sort out a problem you shouldn’t have to face.”