Montana Sen. Steve Daines becomes first US official to visit war-torn Ukraine

Republican lawmaker Steve Daines of Montana has become the first senator to visit war-torn Ukraine since Russia invaded in February, witnessing mass graves in Bucha and “compelling evidence of Putin’s war crimes”.

Daines, 59, traveled to the Eastern European country on Thursday with U.S. Representative Victoria Spartz (R-Indiana), herself born in Nosivka, a town 112 miles from their current location.

“During my meeting with leaders of NATO countries bordering Ukraine, I was invited to meet with Ukrainian officials in Kyiv and Bucha and witness firsthand the butchery and war crimes committed by Putin “, Daines said in a statement. “There is compelling evidence of Putin’s war crimes everywhere – the images of shallow mass graves filled with civilians, women and children are heartbreaking.”

“America and the world need to know about Putin’s atrocities against the innocent people of Ukraine now, not after time has passed and the scars of evil and bloodshed have been cleaned up,” he said. added the senator. “The sooner we can provide Ukraine with the deadly aid it needs to win this war, the sooner we will end war crimes.”

“President Zelenskyy has urged world leaders to come to Ukraine – I am proud to help show that America stands with the people of Ukraine in their fight for freedom,” the statement concluded.

Daines’ office shared photos and video footage of the senator’s battle-frightened trip to Bucha, part of Russia’s February kyiv offensive, and Makariv. The senator, walking through the rubble of both cities, even managed to find a wooden children’s toy in Makariv.

Montana Senator Steve Daines witnesses atrocities in Bucha during his visit

“America and the world need to know about Putin’s atrocities against the innocent people of Ukraine now, not after time has passed and the scars of evil and bloodshed have been cleaned up,” he said. said the senator about his visit to the European country.

Daines went to visit Bucha - northwest of kyiv - where mass graves were reported as well as the town of Makariv

Daines went to visit Bucha – northwest of kyiv – where mass graves were reported as well as the town of Makariv

Just hours after the Biden administration was briefed on Daines’ visit on Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the president had no plans to visit Ukraine himself.

“No, we’re not sending the president to Ukraine,” she told Pod Save America.

Earlier in April, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said alleged Russian atrocities in Bucha and other surrounding areas of Kyiv, the country’s capital, would be investigated by government officials. In recent weeks, Russian forces have moved away from the area.

“We have just started an investigation into everything the occupiers have done,” Zelensky said. “At present, there is information of more than three hundred people killed and tortured in Bucha alone.”

“It is likely that the list of victims will be much longer when the whole city is under control. And it’s only one city. One of the many Ukrainian communities that the Russian army managed to seize,” the Ukrainian president added.

US President Joe Biden accused Putin of war crimes on Monday and called for a trial, adding to global outcry over the killings of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha as more graphic images of their deaths emerged. Read more

The Kremlin has categorically denied any accusations related to the killing of civilians, including at Bucha, where it said the graves and corpses were staged by Ukraine to tarnish Russia.

The Montana senator's office posted photos online of Daines visiting refugee camps, interacting with Ukrainian soldiers and touring the two towns he visited

The Montana senator’s office posted photos online of Daines visiting refugee camps, interacting with Ukrainian soldiers and touring the two towns he visited

Members of the exhumation team work on a mass grave on April 14, 2022 in Bucha, Ukraine.  Russian withdrawal from Ukrainian cities exposed dozens of civilian deaths and full extent of devastation wrought by Russia's bid to dominate the country

Members of the exhumation team work on a mass grave on April 14, 2022 in Bucha, Ukraine. Russian withdrawal from Ukrainian cities exposed dozens of civilian deaths and full extent of devastation wrought by Russia’s bid to dominate the country

Asked at a press conference about Biden’s comments, Lavrov said the West should first consider its own actions in Iraq and Libya.

“All is not well with the conscience … of American politicians,” he said. He added that kyiv was setting up a “stage-organized anti-Russian provocation”.

Lavrov further said that the Russian mission to the United Nations would hold a press conference in New York later Monday with “the most detailed material to show the true nature of the incidents in Bucha.”

Journalists who have visited the Ukrainian town of about 36,971 people since the conflict began recall seeing the bodies of at least 21 people scattered across Bucha.

The bodies of a group of nine women, all dressed in civilian clothes, were strewn across a site occupied by Russian troops, according to local residents.

Moscow’s incursion into Ukraine, the largest attack on a European state since 1945, has seen more than 4.6 million people flee abroad, killed or injured thousands and left Russia increasingly isolated on the world stage.

The Kremlin says it has launched a “special military operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine.

kyiv and its Western allies dismiss this as a false pretext for an unprovoked attack.

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