Last week, Montana Senator Steve Daines was one of the first U.S. government officials to visit and tour Ukraine’s war zones.
Daines held a press conference on Monday to talk about his experiences and blamed US officials for their failure to actually see the war damage and mass graves caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“I think the absence of any American leader in Ukraine was glaring. If you watched the news, you saw many prime ministers, presidents and members of parliament visiting Ukrainians, and I was the first American official to visit Ukraine,” Daines began.
Daines described some of the mass graves he personally witnessed in a single bombed city.
“It’s one of the most horrific 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 out these bodies, while I was standing right there on the edge of the trench. The stench was overwhelming. The smell of death is something you never forget when they put out those body bags.
Daines said very small, child-sized body bags were also pulled from the trench.
“There were also little body bags in there, so there were children in there,” he said. “There were many, many women. The men who were killed were mostly civilians. They weren’t soldiers. There were a few policemen, but mostly ordinary people from the community who were brutally executed by the Russians.
Daines told the touching story of a Ukrainian 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 the colors of Ukraine, a hand-woven bracelet,” 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 did to us.” And so it’s something that I brought home with me and something that I will never forget.
Daines was interviewed by Fox News on the site in Ukraine and provided this commentary.
“We’re just in the background of a church, so you really have the contrast between good and bad. We saw the good, the goodness of the Easter message, the resurrection, the hope, the hope of the resurrection in one view, then looking at the evil of this world, and the evil of Vladimir Putin, and what he made through his soldiers to these innocents.
Daines also commented:
“The sooner we can provide Ukraine with the deadly aid it needs to win this war, the sooner we will end these atrocities. It is also important that we release American energy because it is essential to support our own national security and that of our allies.
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