Capito part of US Senate delegation meeting with leaders on Ukraine

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Sen Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is part of a coalition of senators that will visit Poland and Germany this weekend to better understand Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the related international response.

The group left Thursday with plans to talk with American military leaders and NATO officials about Russia’s military operation and humanitarian concerns. Capito said the delegation will return to the United States on Monday.

“There’s nothing like seeing it with your own ears and eyes. Not just for me to frame it for West Virginians, but also policy issues.” Capito told reporters Thursday.

Other legislators on the trip include Sens. Jon Ernst, R-Iowa; Susan Collins, R-Maine; John Cornyn, R-Texas; Steve Daines, R-Mont.; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Angus King, I-Maine; Roger Marshall, R-Kan.; and Jacky Rosen, D-Nev.

“We’ll probably be hearing intelligence in terms of what we see going on and probably be briefed on cybersecurity attacks,” Capito said.

The trip follows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s remarks Wednesday to members of Congress. Zelenskyy urged American lawmakers to do more to help Ukraine’s efforts, and he asked for additional military aid and economic sanctions to force Russia to withdraw its forces. He also requested a no-fly zone over the country.

Zelenskyy, at the end of his livestreamed address, showed a video highlighting destruction from the war in his country.

“The video that he played was really tough to watch,” Capito said. “It really famed down the human tragedy that occurred in that beautiful country and those beautiful cities.”

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. (File)

Capito stated the United States’ approach to the war is split between providing military aid and assistance as well as placing sanctions on Russia, President Vladimir Putin and top officials.

“There are other ways we can keep sanctioning and ratcheting down,” she added. “I think there is a belief — and I believe this to be true — that the way to get to the end of this is to have the Russian people rise up and tell their leader that he’s killing people, killing their own forces, and it’s time for him to leave.”

The Biden administration has placed multiple sanctions on Russia and its leaders; the president last week signed an executive order banning the import of Russian fossil fuels, including oil and liquefied natural gas. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., introduced a bill earlier this month to block such imports, which Capito sponsored.

“We can hurt them even more by cutting off not just energy, but dollars into all kinds of other commodities,” Capito said.

President Joe Biden announced Wednesday an additional $800 million in military assistance to Ukraine that includes anti-aircraft systems, firearms and ammunition, and drones. The White House opposes a no-fly zone with the hope of stopping the conflict from escalating.

Capito said the president should be more active in addressing the military conflict, arguing Biden has acted in response to congressional actions and NATO when he should lead discussions about stopping the military conflict.

“In my view, the Biden administration and the president himself have been leading from behind,” she contended.

Another area of concern for Capito is the number of Ukrainian refugees. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 3.1 million Ukrainians have fled the country to avoid the conflict.

“To me, some of the most poignant images I have seen are the baby carriages on the Poland border,” she said. “That just shows you that there are a lot of good people in this world, and being a mother myself, that really touched me.”

Biden last week signed a $1.5 trillion package which included $13.6 billion to support Ukraine. Manchin and Capito voted for the spending bill.

Other members of West Virginia’s congressional delegation shared their support of Ukraine on social media following Zelenskyy’s address. Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., described the speech as a “powerful and moving message for peace.” Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.Va., stated the United States stands with Ukraine “against Putin’s evil.”

Manchin called on the United States to do more to support Ukraine and prevent the start of a global war.

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