Montana Senator One of the First U.S. Officials to Visit Ukraine
Last week, Montana Senator Steve Daines was one of the first U.S. government officials to actually visit and tour Ukrainian war zones.
Daines held a press conference on Monday to talk about his experiences, and blamed U.S. officials for their failure to actually view the war damage and mass graves caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“I believe the absence of any American leaders in Ukraine was conspicuous. If you've been watching the news, you've seen many prime ministers some presidents and members of Parliament have visited the Ukrainians, and I was the first U.S. official to visit Ukraine,” began Daines.
Daines described some of the mass graves he personally witnessed in just one bombed out city.
“It's one of the most horrible images and experiences I've ever had in my life,” he said. “These are the shallow graves where hundreds of innocent Ukrainians were buried in plastic bags, and they were exhuming the bodies shovel by shovel. The war crimes investigators were pulling these bodies out, while I was standing right there on the edge of the trench. The stench was overwhelming. The smell of death is something that you never forget when they pulled these body bags out.”
Daines said there were many very small, child sized body bags removed from the trench, as well.
“There were some small body bags in there as well, so there were children in there,” he said. “There were many, many women. The men that were killed were mostly civilians. These were not soldiers. There were a few police officers but mostly just normal ordinary people in the in the community who were brutally executed by the Russians.”
Daines told a touching story of a Ukrainian man who gave him a gift from his own daughter to thank him for visiting his ruined city.
“He reached into his pocket and he had yellow and blue in Ukraine colors, a hand-woven wristband,” he said. “This police officer said, ‘My daughter wants you to have this’. He said, ‘I want to thank you as an American for coming to our village and seeing what the Russians have done to us’. And so it's something I brought back home with me and something I'll never ever forget.”
Daines was interviewed by Fox News at the site in Ukraine and provided this comment.
“We’re right in the background of a church, so you really have the contrast of good and evil. We saw the good, the goodness of the Easter message, the resurrection, the hope, the hope of the resurrection in one view and then looking at the evil of this world, and the evil of Vladimir Putin, and what he has done through his soldiers to these innocent people.”
Daines also commented:
‘The sooner we can provide Ukraine with the lethal aid they need to win this war, the sooner we will end these atrocities. It's also important we unleash American energy as that is key to supporting our own national security and that of our allies.’