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A bipartisan group of lawmakers have recounted harrowing scenes from the Ukrainian border after witnessing the humanitarian crisis of refugees fleeing war to Poland.
Rep. Gregory Meeks, D.N.Y., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, organized the trip last weekend to see firsthand the aftermath of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s all-out war on Ukraine and its civilians.
“It’s just awful,” Meeks told Fox News Digital of the scenes at the Polish-Ukrainian border. “It made me and a number of others almost want to burst into tears.”
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Members of Congress witnessed dozens of cold-blooded women and children crossing Poland, forced to abruptly leave their peaceful lives and possessions to flee to safety in a neighboring country. They witnessed “heartbreaking” farewells at the border where men aged between 18 and 60 had to return to Ukraine to fight for freedom, while their families sought refuge in Poland.
Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., recalls seeing a tearful mother of four say goodbye to her husband who had to return to fighting in Ukraine. She had no gloves when she entered Poland and her son was blowing on her hands to keep her warm. Wagner said she gave her gloves to the Ukrainian woman.
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“I’ve been in Congress for 10 years and this was probably the biggest, most consequential trip I’ve ever taken overseas,” Wagner told Fox News Digital. “We weren’t there as Republicans and Democrats. We were there as Americans to show…our support and let our allies know…that we support them and let the Ukrainian people know that we, here in America , we will be there for them.”
As chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Meeks travels the world. He said he last visited Ukraine less than a month ago – just before the Russian invasion. Seeing the peaceful, sovereign country suddenly under attack by Putin’s forces, Meeks decided to arrange the trip with the committee’s top Republican, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas.
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“I couldn’t sleep at night,” Meeks said of the images of destruction he saw in war reports. “I decided I had a responsibility as chair of this committee to go, and I went to see Mr. McCaul and he felt the same.”
They did not go to Ukraine, but the governor of Lviv, Ukraine, Maksym Kozytskyy, left his city to visit members of Congress at the Polish border, in another powerful moment.
“He came in and he was just talking about how they will fight and they will never give up and they will win,” Meeks said of Kozytskyy. “They wanted to get the ammunition they needed. But he was just saying ‘we’re never going to give up.’ When he finished, he moved me so much, I had to hug him, I didn’t know what else to do.
Other members of the Ukrainian border trip were Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind.; David Cicilline, DR.I. ; Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa. ; Raul Ruiz, D-California; Susan Wild, D-Pa. ; and Gerry Connolly, D-Va.
Lawmakers met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, state and local officials and received briefings from the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.
As the United States builds its military presence in Europe, the military mission is “to assure and deter,” Wagner explained — to assure NATO allies and deter Putin from escalating the war in Europe. beyond Ukraine.
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The members said they returned from the trip moved by the suffering and completely united in their desire to ensure that Ukraine has the weapons and humanitarian aid it needs.
As a result, the House just passed $13.6 billion in aid to Ukraine, more than the $10 billion requested by the Biden administration.
“Putin is a brutal, evil person,” Meeks said. “…It’s a betrayal of humanity for him to do what he’s doing. … There is only one person responsible for the tragedy unfolding right now … and his name is Vladimir Putin. And he will eventually have his own.