March 31, 2023

Joni Ernst says U.S. has to focus efforts to help Ukraine ‘quickly defeat’ Russia

U.S. Senator also says Europe should take over humanitarian aid

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, speaks with constituents during a town hall March 4 at DMACC Newton Campus.

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, at a town hall on March 4 in Newton criticized the Biden administration’s “slow walk” response to the unprovoked war in Ukraine, sentiments that echo what Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks said about the conflict nearly a week before at a listening post.

While Ernst has long been a vocal supporter of Ukraine, she and Miller-Meeks agree they do not want U.S. troops on the frontlines. But a sovereign nation has been invaded by one of the United States’ “top four adversaries,” which Ernst identified as Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

“When we have those types of adversaries that are expanding their footprint around the globe, that means that our footprint of those of us in the free world is contracting,” Ernst said at the town hall. “…That does put pressure on the United States, on the free European countries and so forth.”

It is of strategic importance, she said, that those four countries are not expanding their territory. The Biden administration “needs to send the Ukrainians what they need to quickly defeat the Russians.” But Ernst said the United States is not doing that, but is rather “drip, drip, dripping” military equipment.

“I know when you hear on the news that Congress has authorized these billions of dollars to go into Ukraine, folks, not all of that is in Ukraine,” she said. “Only a part of that is actually in Ukraine. So we are just slowly trickling items into Ukraine. And, yes, we are able to audit and follow that equipment.”

The discussion about Ukraine was started by a guest of the town hall, which was held at the DMACC Newton Campus. The Newton resident shared his concerns with Ernst about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy telling the United States it needs to send troops. However, this claim is proven to be untrue.

Video clips circulating on social media show Zelenskyy saying America will have to send its “sons and daughters” to war, much like Ukraine has.

Associated Press reporters Karena Phan and Ali Swenson have debunked this claim and provided missing context, particularly the part where Zelenskyy was talking about a hypothetical situation in which Russia invades NATO member countries; he was not calling for U.S. soldiers to fight in Ukraine.

But Ernst said the problem the United States is facing is not sending military aid fast enough. The next six months, she said, is going to be very, very critical for the survival of Ukraine; they need the type of equipment that is being sent by the European Nations, a number of which have committed to sending tanks.

“The tanks that have been committed — again, everyone says, ‘Oh! We’re sending them tanks’ — those tanks won’t even get into Ukraine until a year or more. That is the type of equipment they need to push back against the Russian offensive that we expect to happen,” Ernst said. “…We need to speed it up.”

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.