Rep. Mike Turner describes 'disheartening despair' at Polish refugee facility, blames Putin for atrocities

Rep. Mike Turner: This is an assault on democracy

Ohio Republican weighs in on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Iranian nuclear deal and Biden’s call with President Xi on ‘Sunday Morning Futures.’

EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, spoke with Fox News Digital while on a bipartisan congressional delegation to the Northeast Poland-Ukraine border, and described the “heartbreaking” effects on Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war.

Turner, who serves as the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, traveled to Poland’s border with Ukraine over the weekend with House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Republican Whip Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., Rep. like Garcia, R-Calif., Rep. Michele Fischbach, R-Minn., and Democratic Reps. Stephanie Murphy of Florida and Kathleen Rice of New York.

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The lawmakers met with Polish officials, along with representatives from the U.S. and NATO, and had conversations centered around the “local Polish response,” particularly on logistics and care for those Ukrainians who have been displaced.

They also had briefings on how to get weapons into the hands of Ukrainians to defend against Russian forces, which Turner told Fox News Digital should have happened way earlier if the Biden administration had immediately responded to pleas for assistance.

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy
(Photo credit: Caleb Smith)

“It would have been so much more timely if Biden had responded and provided weapons to Ukraine earlier. And seeing the logistics now and knowing that it’s happening during a conflict, during war, we would have been able to get weapons in and there may have been able to actually repel the Russian invasion instead of now as they’re fighting to try to reclaim land that Russia is bombing,” said Turner.

Discussions revolved around what Ukraine needs for “surface-to-air missiles and sea defenses to be able to try to address Russia’s threat.”

The congress members also toured a Polish refugee facility, which Turner said was “heartbreaking” to witness.

“This is just heartbreaking to see the effects of people who are fleeing the war, with just the belongings that they could grab. With their young kids, perhaps just trying to seek safety. It becomes even that much clearer as you see the people who are fleeing war, that this is really just about one person. This is about Putin,” Turner told Fox News Digital. 

He said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is to blame for the war’s atrocities and the horrific reality for refugees that he witnessed.

“This isn’t a geopolitical conflict. It’s not war between nations. It’s not a natural disaster. This is absolutely Vladimir Putin, who is mercilessly bombing a nation, indiscriminately killing innocent people and causing millions to have to flee.”

Turner said that the “immediacy” of the Ukrainian refugees’ needs is extremely serious, stating that many have health concerns. There are “food needs, clothing, logistics to get them somewhere else into Poland,” among other pressing issues.

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“Many of them don’t know anybody here. So they’re coming into a country where they are not looking to get assistance from friends or other relatives. Just that disheartening despair of being displaced and also knowing that they don’t know how long they will be here, and they don’t know what condition their country will be in, or their families will be in, when they return,” Turner told Fox News Digital.

In response to reports that Putin may be shaking up his leadership team and reorganizing military operations in Ukraine, Turner said despite any changes, Putin’s objective remains the same.

“It’s evident on the ground in Ukraine that Russia is moving its troops around and maybe executing new plans. But what is very clear to everyone who is watching this is that Putin’s end game and goal has not changed.”

“And also, since we know that Putin’s designs include the Baltics and Eastern Europe, it even makes it that much more desperate that Ukraine have the ability to defend itself against Russia. No one believes that if Russia regroups and just takes a portion of Ukraine that that will be the end of this conflict. And so we want to make that as impossible for Putin as that can be.”

(Photo credit: Caleb Smith)

Turner concluded by saying that the lawmakers plan to head back to the U.S. Capitol and convey to their colleagues and the Biden administration the most pressing needs of the Ukrainian government on both the humanitarian side and the military side. 

“And our goal is, of course, to return back to the capital with this information to try to support efforts to get in their hands things that they need to defend themselves and to meet the needs of their countrymen.”

(Photo credit: Caleb Smith)

The top Intelligence Committee Republican said that he hopes the Biden administration recognizes how dangerous the situation is for the entire globe, and that it is “critical” that the U.S. respond by sending more lethal aid.

“This is a major and serious conflict that shows that Putin is certainly willing to kill innocent people and to disrupt an entire nation. And I hope the administration’s understanding of how dangerous this makes him and how dangerous the situation is both for Europe, the United States, NATO. And it’s critical that we respond to the fullest in ways that we can support with lethal aid to Ukraine.”

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