WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, on the Senate floor on Wednesday called for President Biden to provide Ukraine the lethal aid needed to win their war against Russia. Her speech came after Ernst led a bipartisan Senate delegation that included nine of her colleagues to Poland and Germany last weekend. On that trip the delegation visited U.S. troops and met with military leaders, Ukrainian civil society, refugees and NGOs, and U.S. State Department personnel.
“This strong, bipartisan delegation traveled together to demonstrate America’s unwavering support for the freedom-loving people of Ukraine and affirm the strength of the world’s most powerful alliance. We departed with the conviction that the United States, Ukraine, and the free world have the will and the means to unite and stand up to Vladimir Putin’s tyranny and that Ukraine can win this fight,” Ernst said upon her return.
She was joined by U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Susan Collins, R-Maine, John Cornyn, R-Texas, Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Angus King, I-Maine, Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Steve Daines, R-Mont., Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., and Roger Marshall, R-Kan.
During her remarks on Wednesday, Ernst called President Biden’s approach to Ukraine “appeasement” and called for him to instead lead by giving Ukraine the means to “stop Russian President Vladimir Putin’s tyranny.”
Ernst was the first female combat veteran elected to the U.S. Senate and serves as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Read her full remarks below or watch them in the video above:
“I returned to the United States Sunday night after leading a bipartisan Senate delegation visit to Poland and Germany.
“Ten senators – Republicans and Democrats – traveled together to demonstrate America’s unwavering support for the freedom-loving people of Ukraine and affirm the strength of the world’s most powerful alliance.
“I will never forget an engagement with Ukrainian civil society leaders. This group of passionate, strong women demonstrated Ukraine’s spirit and their will to fight.
“They delivered a clear message to the United States: Ukraine can win, but they need more lethal aid delivered now.
“Our bipartisan delegation departed with the conviction that the United States, Ukraine, and the free world have the will and the means to stop Vladimir Putin’s tyranny.
“I’m here on the Senate floor today to state my belief that Ukraine will beat back Vladimir Putin’s bloody invasion, throw the Russian Army out of their country, and declare victory over this lawless, criminal incursion.
“Folks, Ukraine can win this war.
“When the shooting is over, the Russian military will be broken, and the Russian economy will collapse—consequences brought about by Putin’s chosen isolation and rejection of the free world.
“He and his cronies’ futures are not bright either.
“Putin’s propaganda media machine will break down. He will be marked by the international community as a war criminal, and, I predict, will be held accountable by his own people.
“His best days are behind him. Freedom will win.
“Most of us thought these outcomes were improbable just a few weeks ago.
“The President’s policymakers circulated intelligence assessments in the first days of the invasion which concluded, unequivocally, that Ukraine didn’t stand a chance.
“They predicted Putin would topple Kyiv within 3 to 5 days.
“Tomorrow marks one month since the start of the war. The Russian military is disorganized and demoralized. Four separate divisions are all competing for logistics resupply.
“Putin knows he’s losing, and he’s panicking. He jailed his deputy chief of intelligence, and his military is burning the bodies of Russian casualties.
“Russia’s manpower and ammunition are tapping out…while, on the other side, Ukraine’s forces are hanging tough.
“The weapons the U.S., our allies, and partners provided are being deployed with lethal proficiency. The front lines have been frozen for over a week, and Russian casualties are greater than 1,000 a day.
“The Ukrainians are intercepting unclassified calls and eliminating Russian field commanders.
“Most crucially, the Ukrainian people are ready to fight to the last man.
“The Russian Army is a force of teenage conscripts, subjects of an authoritarian war criminal whose delusions of grandeur about the old Soviet Union drove this invasion.
“The Ukrainian Army is made up of free citizens who chose freedom over Russian tyranny.
“Putin’s invasion doesn’t change Ukraine’s choice, and they will not go quietly.
“Given all of this, has the United States shifted its strategy? Do we believe we can help make a Ukrainian victory a near certainty?
“We all know why we must come to Ukraine’s aid—this body’s memory is not that short.
“The U.S. is an agreement-bound partner with Ukraine.
“In 1994, Ukraine dismantled and surrendered its nuclear armament entirely in exchange for our security guarantee…the protection of the world’s greatest superpower.
“Our agreement resulted in a prosperous Ukraine and made the world a safer place.
“Before Vladimir Putin attempted to snuff it out for good three weeks ago, the American people and the world benefitted from the breadbasket of Europe’s vital agricultural sector and energy production.
“Ukraine has been an invaluable economic and security partner for nearly thirty years.
“Putin is not only testing that agreement today in the streets of Kyiv, Mariupol, and Kharkiv. He wants to break freedom’s momentum around the globe.
“We cannot allow that to happen.
“If it has not been made clear enough already, an unshakeable commitment to allies and partners keeps Americans prosperous and our families safe.
“Authoritarians—whether it’s the Taliban, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, or the terrorists that rule Iran—cannot dictate terms to our security and economy.
“We still are the world’s superpower, 28 years after we made a security agreement with Ukraine. America cannot be pushed around.
“We also know how we can come to Ukraine’s aid. Congress just passed 14 billion dollars of support for Ukraine, which included nearly 2 billion dollars of lethal weaponry.
“That aid—those weapons and logistics support—must flow right now.
“I fought for a provision in the aid package that allows the President to draw down on pre-positioned military equipment—and I will be ensuring he follows through and gets these weapons into Ukrainian hands.
“There is no excuse for American inaction.
“The Commander in Chief now has the authority to transfer pre-positioned weapons and logistics support, including as many as 40 soviet-style helicopters purchased for Afghan security forces, to the Ukrainians.
“America’s commitment to Ukraine and our NATO allies demands we expedite the delivery of weapons and capabilities to Ukraine.
“Any delay due to fears of escalation is reflective of a doctrine of appeasement that will only further embolden our adversaries.
“Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said recently that success for the U.S. mission in Ukraine is, at the end of this conflict, a free and independent, sovereign Ukraine.
“I wholeheartedly agree, but if that is our mission, America has to provide more support to enable Ukraine to win the war. We cannot hold back.
“The U.S. mission in Ukraine must go beyond ensuring the country merely has the means to defend itself against Russian aggression.
“Now is not the time to be risk-averse!
“This administration did little to deter Putin’s march on Kyiv, an invasion set in motion as early as April 2021.
“President Biden lifted sanctions on Nord Stream 2, framed the U.S-Russia relationship as stable and predictable as late as June of last year, and canceled European Command military exercises, calling them “too provocative.”
“Public opinion, Congress, and even European nations have hammered, begged, dragged, and pushed the Biden administration to action.
“From economic sanctions to the Russian oil ban, the administration has led from behind and from a position of weakness.
“Take the Polish MiG debacle—three Sundays ago Secretary Blinken gave Poland a green light to transfer MiG fighter jets to Ukraine.
“The following Tuesday, the White House did a flip and rejected the transfer of planes out of fear Putin would see the move as escalatory.
“41 Republicans joined my letter voicing displeasure to the President for his failure to act.
“Letting an adversary define your military’s rules of engagement—letting the aggressor dictate the boundaries of our response—is not just folly; it’s suicidal.
“The administration crossed their fingers and hoped Putin would play nice—he didn’t, and deterrence failed.
“But, the failure of this administration’s doctrine of appeasement doesn’t mean Ukraine will lose the war.
“I commend actions taken to shore up the NATO alliance following the invasion, but our Commander in Chief must now lead and give Ukraine the means to win.
“If he is to continue being the most powerful man in the free world he must act as such.
“Delaying the loss of Ukraine to Vladimir Putin is not a strategy.
“Success is not a Russian-occupied Ukraine. Success is not a protracted insurgency. Success is a free, independent, and sovereign Ukraine.
“Defending freedom in Ukraine is defending freedom everywhere.
“Authoritarianism cannot prevail in this conflict.”