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Bipartisan group of senators to travel to Poland amid Russia-Ukraine war

A bipartisan group of senators is traveling to Poland Saturday in a show of support for the help the NATO ally has provided during the war in Ukraine.

Russian forces have continued to pummel Ukraine with heavy missile fire and troop movements for 17 days, forcing millions to flee into neighboring Poland in the biggest ground war since World War II.

“I am proud to stand with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle with our friend and ally Poland,” Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar said. “Poland has been a stalwart ally to Ukraine, welcoming Ukrainian refugees and providing critical resources during this unprovoked attack.”

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Klobuchar, who traveled with senators Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said they will meet with military and government leaders stationed in Poland.

“We will make clear our commitment to stand with the Ukrainian and Polish people against Vladimir Putin,” she added.

The trip comes as Poland struggles under the sheer number of refugees it has seen flood across its border with Ukraine. A bipartisan group of House lawmakers on the Foreign Affairs Committee traveled to Poland last weekend to assess the refugee situation at the border.

The majority of the 2.6 million refugees that have fled violent fighting and missile fire headed directly west with 1.6 million people looking for refuge in Poland. 

“I am proud to join my colleagues on this important trip to Poland,” said Portman. “The Polish people continue their unwavering support for NATO after 23 years of fighting alongside the U.S. and our allies. This bipartisan delegation will send a clear message that the U.S. is thankful for their support of Ukraine and their offer of providing fighter jets, as the people of Ukraine continue to endure brutal Russian atrocities.” 

Wicker also weighed in.

“Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked assault on Ukraine has threatened to plunge Europe into the deadliest conflict since 1945,” Wicker said Saturday. “Putin’s continued attack on a sovereign nation demands a strong and united response from the U.S and our NATO allies. I am glad to visit Poland as we work together to halt Putin’s advance.”

Refugees, mostly women and children, wait in a crowd for transportation after fleeing from Ukraine and arriving at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, March 7, 2022. 

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Poland surprised the U.S. by announcing this week that it would send all its MiG-29 warplanes to the U.S. Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

But the Pentagon pushed back on this and said deploying warplanes from a U.S. base in a NATO nation was “high risk” and could further escalate Russian aggression.

The U.S. and its NATO allies have repeatedly said they will not counter Putin militarily in Ukraine but have instead supplied defensive aid and targeted Russia’s economy through crippling sanctions.

But not all lawmakers agreed with the Pentagon’s decision, and 40 GOP senators urged the Biden administration in a letter Thursday to send the planes to Kyiv as Russian forces continue to advance.

A woman fleeing from Ukraine is overcome by emotions at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, Friday, March 4, 2022.

“Enough talk. People are dying,” Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney said during a press conference on the Hill. “Send them the planes they need.”

Biden on Saturday authorized another $200 million in defensive aid for Ukraine on top of the more than $1 billion provided over the last year. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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