Following a whirlwind trip to assess the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) addressed the state’s media Monday afternoon, reaffirming his commitment to securing freedom for residents of Ukraine, while calling on Kansas to support efforts to suffocate the Russian economy to stem the aggression.
Marshall traveled to Germany and Poland over the weekend as part of a bipartisan delegation of U.S. senators. The group returned late Sunday night. He said he was struck by the desperation of the humanitarian crisis developing as a result of the conflict.
During the weekend trip, Marshall indicated he saw, “both the worst of humanity and I saw the best of humanity.”
Marshall said the delegation visited a refugee camp in Poland near the country’s border with Ukraine, where he said nearly 1 million Ukrainian refugees have been cared for in the past to weeks.
“I’ve done medical mission work around the world, and this is the most efficient care I’ve seen delivered.”
Citizens and charitable organizations, he said, are going over and above in providing support for residents fleeing the violence in Ukraine. In addition to providing essential support through food, clothing and shelter, Marshall estimated nearly half of Polish homes are helping house Ukrainian refugees. Many non-profit international relief organizations, in particular, have done a great job of supporting the relief effort, he noted.
On the flip side, Marshall called first-hand accounts of the devastation in Ukraine from those fleeing the violence, “heartbreaking.”
“What they described to us was just hours and hours, days upon days, of air raid sirens and bombs; not having running water not having toilets, not having electricity. They were cold, wet and hungry, with crying children for weeks at a time. Their homes have been leveled,” he said.
Marshall described what he saw as, “war crimes being committed by a very horrible person (Vladimir Putin).”
Marshall was encouraged by the response he saw to Russia’s aggression by European allies, including Poland and Russia.
“(Germany is) very committed to spending more money, doing whatever they can to help stop this aggression in Ukraine. Those were really great things to see happening,” Marshall said.
Addressing American, European response
Marshall indicated he remains committed to keeping American forces militarily out of the fight, though he indicated 102,000 troops stationed in the European theater remain ready. Though he said all options could be explored, he said there is much more that can be done economically to prevent that from happening.
Kansans, he said, can be proud of the efforts of American troops, which include troops from the 1st Infantry Division from Fort Riley. Marshall credited, in part, the training provided by U.S. troops as part of NATO forces providing training Ukrainian fighters “for years. I have complete confidence in our military’s ability.”
“I think this is one of the reasons we’re seeing the Ukrainians do such a great job of slowing down the Russians,” Marshall said.
Right now, he said, nations across the world of are falling short of the full measure of sanctions that can be implemented to slow Russian aggression.
“I don’t want any American blood shed; I don’t want any American pilots in the airspace above Ukraine,” Marshall said, indicating, though, that the U.S. was doing, “only a fraction” of what it could do to stem the tide in other ways.
Marshall admonished the Biden administration to step up efforts through the Pentagon to follow through with promises to provide additional weapons and other military resources to fighters in Ukraine, including jets and drones.
He implored citizens, however, to be a part of the effort to cripple the Russian economy, efforts which he said so far have been successful.
“I would call on the entire world to stop doing business with Russia. Their economy is in a freefall right now,” he said.
The Biden administration, however, needs to do its part economically, as well, he said.
“The sanctions that the White House has talked about the need to be implemented. We need to stop delaying the implementation of these sanctions,” Marshall said. He called on the U.S. to cease import of any form of Russian energy or resources, including oil, natural gas, and nuclear power.
Marshall also advocated for the immediate formation of a war tribunal to prosecute Putin and leading Russian military officials for war crimes.
“We need to bring the full pressure of the world on this horrible dictator and isolate him,” Marshall said.
He said many Americans don’t fully understand the scope to the Ukrainians’ decades-long fight for freedoms, dating back to Soviet rule, that many American citizens often take for granted. However, it will take a unified effort across the world.
“These people deserve their freedoms,” he said. “They’ve worked hard to earn it again, and American needs to stand up and support them, but we need the European Union on this, we don’t want to make this a Russia versus America model.”
He said it is heartwarming, though, to see American citizens continue to be, “a beacon of hope and protector of life and liberty that we’ve been.”