WASHINGTON — Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) is visiting Ukraine on behalf of the United States Congress. He is traveling with Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island).
"All three of us, one Republican and two Democrats, share the same goal - for Ukraine to drive the Russians out of Ukraine," Graham said. "To achieve that goal, the Ukrainian military needs tanks. I am tired of the s*** show surrounding who is going to send tanks and when are they going to send them. Putin is trying to rewrite the map of Europe by force of arms. World order is at stake."
Ukraine's interior minister died Wednesday in a helicopter crash near the capital that killed more than a dozen other people, including children, authorities said.
Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi, who oversaw Ukraine's police and emergency services, is the most senior official to die since Russia invaded nearly 11 months ago. His death, along with two others from his ministry, was the second calamity in four days for Ukraine, after a Russian missile strike on an apartment building killed dozens of civilians.
President Vladimir Putin defended his invasion again Wednesday — offering a variation on arguments he has used previously. The Russian leader told a gathering of veterans that Moscow’s actions were intended to stop a “war” that has raged for years in eastern Ukraine, where Russia-backed separatists have battled Ukrainian forces.
“All what we are doing today as part of the special military operation is an attempt to stop this war. This is the meaning of our operation — protecting people who live on those territories,” he said.
Ukraine and its Western allies have rejected Russia's justifications, saying Kyiv posed no threat to Moscow and the invasion was unprovoked.
Following the visit, Senator Graham issued a statement. saying:
“I had an incredible trip to Ukraine, meeting with President Zelensky and his team. I am amazed by the determination and capabilities of the Ukrainian military and people to defend their homeland.
“The debacle regarding sending tanks to Ukraine must end. It is impossible for Ukraine to expel Russia without tanks. I am hoping Germany and the United States will both send tanks ASAP – opening up other countries’ desire to help Ukraine.
“The tanks are outcome determinative in expelling Russia from Ukraine.
“The Munich Security Conference – which is the premier national security event of the world – is being held in mid-February. It would be unbelievably embarrassing to have a meeting of the free world in Munich while Ukraine’s military needs haven’t been met.
“All the rhetoric coming out of the Munich Security Conference for decades would ring hollow if the United States, Germany and others do not supply tanks to Ukraine to counter the coming Russian offensive and expel Russia from Ukraine."
The Associated Press contributed to this report