Klobuchar visits Ukraine border, says war won’t be over quickly

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Sen. Amy Klobuchar says the situation in Ukraine is going to be a "long, long slog," adding that America’s job is provide humanitarian help and protect NATO countries.

The Minnesota Democrat spoke with WDIO News after visiting a border crossing between Poland and Ukraine on Sunday as part of a bipartisan group of senators.

The border crossing is only about 15 miles away from a Ukrainian military training base attacked by Russia hours earlier. The attack killed 35 people.

"The border guards literally said they could feel the earth shake when it happened," Klobuchar said.

At the crossing, Klobuchar met with refugees who have lost their homes, including a grandmother waiting for her family.

"She looks like someone who could have been sitting in…Duluth by the water and waiting for her daughters and her grandkids, having lost her husband only ten months before. You just realize that their whole lives are just shattered and will never be the same, especially a number of the seniors arriving in wheelchairs with walkers," she said.

She described Poland’s response to help refugees, who now number more than 1.5 million, as "overwhelming," with Poles welcoming refugees into their homes.

"I’ve just never seen anything like this. And it just makes you realize that people stand up for each other," Klobuchar said.

Earlier in the trip, Klobuchar met with Minnesota soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.

"Some had been signed up for years and some were brand new, but they all were equally proud to be part of this patriotic mission to stand up for democracy. So much of what’s happening right now with our forces are, one, to help the refugees to make sure that they safely get across the border and two, to show the need of countries like Poland that we are standing up for them because, of course, they’re so close to all this," she said.

There has been disagreement in Washington over the best way to help Ukraine.

Last week, some Republicans urged the Biden administration to reverse course after the Pentagon rejected an offer from Poland to transfer the Soviet-era planes to NATO. The Pentagon said such action could run a "high risk" of escalating the war.

President Joe Biden said Friday that sending American pilots and American crews to Ukraine would amount to "World War III."

When asked what is needed to stop Russia, Klobuchar said, "the first thing is getting a President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy what he needs for air defense."

"That comes in many forms. One of the things that have been most effective is drones. And then also getting him the help that he needs to take on the tanks and the convoys that you see on the news," she said.

She said Russians who thought they were going to be greeted with roses in Ukraine were instead greeted with Molotov cocktails.

"It’s going to be a long, long slog. I don’t think anyone should be a Pollyanna about this idea that it’ll be somehow over quickly. So our job is to get them what they need, to give them the humanitarian help that they need. And then also to protect NATO countries," Klobuchar said.

Klobuchar added that her office is working with Ukrainian-American families in Minnesota to locate loved ones and track what’s happened.

She traveled with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)

The Associated Press contributed to this report.