Russian artillery positions, tanks and vehicles seen in new satellite images from Mariupol

A group of bipartisan senators called for more lethal and humanitarian aid to be sent to Ukraine as soon as possible after traveling to Germany and Poland over the weekend to meet with civil society organizations, American troops and Ukrainian refugees. The senators who went on the trip held a press conference Monday after returning.

The group of senators that traveled to Germany and Poland included Sens. Jacky Rosen, Joni Ernst, Shelley Moore Capito, Susan Collins, John Cornyn, Steve Daines, Kirsten Gillibrand, Angus King, Roger Marshall and Jerry Moran.

“Defending freedom in Ukraine is defending freedom everywhere. This is a critical time for all of us, not just the Ukrainian people that we encountered and visited, but certainly for all of Europe, all of our NATO allies, and it certainly means the freedom right here in our homeland as well,” Ernst said during the press conference about the trip.

Many of the senators described emotional experiences after meeting with Ukrainian refugees who had just fled the war-torn country. Collins recounted a conversation she had with a young Ukrainian mother who had just fled the country with her two children.

“She said this to me: ‘I want to live in peace. I want to be back in Ukraine, but I have to keep my children safe.’ So this young mother with her two children was leaving the only country she has ever known. Leaving her husband behind. Not knowing if she would ever see him again in order to keep her children safe,” Collins said. “The only way that we can end this humanitarian crisis is to provide the Ukrainians with the lethal aid and the humanitarian support they need to end this unprovoked, unjustified war.”

Collins called for the Biden administration to allow Ukrainian refugees with family in the US to be allowed to come to the US.

“I believe that the administration should look at means to allow Ukrainians who have family members in this country to join them and give them temporary protective status. Just this morning, I heard from someone from the state of Maine who offered to take three Ukrainian families in for the next year, so we need that kind of reform as well,” Collins said.

Sen. King said he wants to better understand how long it takes to get aid to Ukraine after it’s approved in Congress after the trip.

“One of the things that I’m coming back with is wanting to determine just how long does it take, from the time Congress votes the money, as we did ten days ago, to when it crosses the border into Ukraine both for humanitarian aid and for lethal aid. We need to know exactly how that works, and how fast it occurs, because we don’t have weeks and months, we have hours and days,” King said.

Sen. King said the senators saw trucks loaded with aid ready to cross the border into Ukraine during the trip.

Sen. Ernst said she, as well as other senators were writing lists of what needs to get done to get aid to Ukraine even faster on the flight back from Germany.

The senators spent Friday in Germany, Saturday in Poland and Sunday in Germany before flying back to the US overnight Sunday night to Monday, King said.

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