Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) was among a bipartisan Congressional Delegation that visited Ukraine to see first hand how that nation’s military is using U.S. weaponry in its fight against Russia’s invasion.
Slotkin – the first member of the Michigan Congressional Delegation to travel to Ukraine since the war began – met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other senior Ukrainian military and security officials.
Other members of the delegation included Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith (D-WA), as well as Reps. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Michael Waltz (R-FL).
Following meetings in Kyiv, Slotkin said the American people stand firmly with Ukraine.
“During the trip, we saw firsthand what the Ukrainians can do with the weapons and training the U.S. is providing,” stated Slotkin. “We visited Irpin, the last town before Kyiv where Ukrainian soldiers held the Russians off, as well as Bucha, where we learned more about the atrocities that have been carried out by the Russians over the last 5 months. All of these places were key targets for the Russians when they aimed to take Kyiv, and it was only through the sheer will of the Ukrainian people, and support from the outside world, that the Russian attack was repelled. It was incredibly moving to see that kind of determination in the name of patriotism.
“Michigan has a special connection to Ukraine, partly because of the large population of Ukrainian Michiganders, and also because we make some of the critical equipment that is now supporting their efforts against Putin’s regime – things like the engines and tracks for armored personnel carriers (APCs). Michigan’s official partner nation is Latvia, where we teach how to use the long-range HIMAR system that Ukrainians say has made such a difference against the Russians. The expedited delivery of the HIMARS and so many other weapons was facilitated by the Ukraine Lend-Lease Act that was signed into law on May 9 – that’s one of the reasons why I was determined to see these weapons in action.”
For his part, President Zelenskyy said his nation appreciates the help of the United States in defending their territory and the Ukrainian people.
“I would like to thank President Biden and the US Congress, where we have important bicameral and bipartisan support, for the leading position of the United States,” Zelenskyy said.
Zelenskyy also noted the importance of security assistance to Ukraine from the United States, the latest package of which, containing the much-needed HIMARS launcher systems, shells and unmanned aerial vehicles, was announced the day before.
Zelenskyy also briefed the U.S. congressmen on the large number of missile strikes launched Saturday by Russian troops on Ukraine, in particular the port city of Odesa. He said that this happened less than a day after the agreements regarding the export of Ukrainian grain were reached in Istanbul.
“This proves only one thing: no matter what Russia says and promises, it will find ways not to implement it. Geopolitically, with weapons, bloodily or not, but it has several vectors, as it always acts,” Zelenskyy said.
Slotkin, a former senior Pentagon official and CIA officer, has introduced a suite of bipartisan legislation to address Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine, including the DICTATOR Act, to investigate whether China is helping Russia evade U.S. sanctions, as well as the American Energy for Europe Act, which would leverage American manufacturing to help wean our European allies off Russian energy resources.
“The Ukrainians are fighting for the survival of their country, and seeing their determination in-person was nothing short of awe-inspiring,” said Slotkin. “I know that for some Americans and Michiganders, this conflict has started to fade into the background, but it is critical that we continue to help the Ukrainians, particularly as they move to take back parts of southern Ukraine. Whether you’re a staunch believer in preserving democracy or just want to protect the pocketbooks of the American people, ramping up our support in the near term must be a top priority for the administration, and I will be doing everything I can in Congress to make sure it is.”
Slotkin also led the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act, which was signed into law by President Biden in May and is helping to expedite shipments of weapons from the United States to Ukraine.