Washington, D.C. —On Thursday, March 24, 2022, U.S. Representative Stephen F. Lynch, Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, returned from leading a bipartisan congressional delegation (CODEL) to Eastern Europe and the Ukrainian border with U.S. Representatives Lori Trahan (D-MA), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Mark Green (R-TN), Pat Fallon (R-TX), and Jake LaTurner (R-KS). U.S. Representative Nancy Mace (R-SC) also joined the bipartisan delegation for their visit to Warsaw, Poland. The Members traveled to the region to observe the humanitarian impacts of Vladimir Putin’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine firsthand and to demonstrate the United States’ unwavering support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance and the people of Ukraine. Chairman Lynch released the following statement upon his return from the CODEL:
“I led this delegation to send a clear, unambiguous, and bipartisan message to our allies and partners: the United States stands with them and the people of Ukraine at this pivotal moment in history,” said Chairman Lynch. “We also sent a powerful message to Vladimir Putin: through his unlawful and unjustified invasion of Ukraine, he has strengthened the NATO alliance and has even managed to unite the U.S. Congress in a way not seen since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001.
“As Putin continues to bring death and destruction to innocent civilians in Ukraine, our European allies are looking to the United States to lead the world through this crisis. While we do not seek war with Russia, we must do everything we can to support the Ukrainian people and our NATO allies and partners—including through the continued provision of humanitarian and security assistance, as well as bolstering our military posture along NATO’s eastern flank—so that democracy prevails over authoritarianism and good does not succumb to evil.
“I’d like to thank my Democratic colleagues, Rep. Lori Trahan and Rep. Chellie Pingree, along with my Republican colleagues, Rep. Mark Green, Rep. Pat Fallon, and Rep. Jake LaTurner for joining me on this CODEL. Each of them brought unique experiences and expertise to our meetings, discussions, and engagements, which added tremendous value to our delegation. I deeply appreciate their participation and take pride in the unity of purpose and American resolve that was demonstrated by our bipartisan delegation.”
In Poland, the CODEL met with officials at U.S. Embassy Warsaw to discuss the strong, steady, and deepening bilateral relationship between the United States and Poland. During a visit to the Torwar Refugee Assistance Center, Members observed how Poland is working to accommodate the more than two million refugees who have fled to Poland since the conflict began, and thanked the people of Poland who have opened their homes to Ukrainian refugees.
The delegation also met with leaders of the 82nd Airborne Division and had an opportunity to speak with servicemembers from their home states. The servicemembers repeatedly told the delegation that the presence of U.S. forces along NATO’s eastern flank sent a strong and important message of support about the United States’ unwavering commitment to the alliance. Members also visited a kitchen and meal preparation site established by World Central Kitchen, where Chef Marc Murphy and a team of volunteers are working around the clock to provide hot meals to Ukrainian refugees in both Poland and Ukraine.
Before leaving Poland, the delegation traveled to the Przemsyl Train Station near the Polish border with Ukraine, where they had an opportunity to speak with Ukrainian refugees. The Members were moved by their stories of courage, resilience, and hope that they will soon return to their homes in Ukraine.
Members then traveled to Romania where they met with Prime Minister Nicolae Ionel Ciuca and Minister of Internal Affairs Lucian Bode to discuss the security and humanitarian situation in Eastern Europe. While there, the delegation also held meetings with U.S. and NATO forces to discuss the intense military collaboration and coordination taking place throughout NATO in response to Putin’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine. The delegation then traveled to the Romanian border with Ukraine to meet with law enforcement officials and learn more about how they are working to welcome Ukrainian refugees into Romania, while also preventing human trafficking and the exploitation of vulnerable populations.
From Romania, the delegation traveled to Moldova and met with Prime Minister Natalia Gavrili?a. The Members praised the country’s recent political and economic reforms and thanked the Moldovan people for their generosity and willingness to welcome Ukrainian refugees into their homes. The delegation also visited the Palanca border crossing point and discussed the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) work to support and care for Ukrainian refugees with UNHCR Representative to Moldova Francesca Bonelli.
Following their visit to Moldova, the delegation traveled to Vienna, Austria, to meet with U.S. Ambassador to the Vienna Office of the United Nations Laura Holgate, as well as International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi, to discuss the United States’ continued support for the IAEA and their work to ensure the safe, secure, and peaceful use of nuclear technologies in Ukraine and around the world.