Washington — With additional funding for Ukraine caught up in U.S. politics, some Americans who were wounded fighting alongside Ukraine’s forces as they battle to fend off Russia’s invasion visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday and Thursday, along with family members of others who were killed in action, to urge lawmakers to approve more money for Kyiv.
One U.S. Marine veteran who joined the fight in Chernihiv in 2022, where he received significant shrapnel wounds to his arms, legs and torso from a grenade dropped by a Russian drone, spoke with CBS News about meeting the U.S. lawmakers but asked to be identified by a pseudonym, as he plans to return to the fight once he’s recovered.
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Adam, part of a delegation organized by the R. T. Weatherman Foundation, spoke with congressional staffers to share his first-hand account of the war, and he stressed the urgency for more U.S. military aid to reach Ukraine’s forces, in particular conventional artillery shells, which are quickly running out.
Adam told CBS News he felt called to serve on the Ukrainian front lines after Russia launched its full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022. He viewed it as a black-and-white situation morally, and felt his eight years of military experience could help.
Further U.S. assistance worth nearly $60 billion for Ukraine is tied up in the congressional fight over immigration legislation. Some House Republicans have refused to pass any more funding unless it is accompanied with tough immigration restrictions and more funding for border security.
House Speaker Mike Johnson and other congressional leaders met President Biden on Wednesday in what Johnson called a “productive meeting” amid ongoing negotiations.
“We can’t hold foreign aid hostage just because some senators or congressmen are trying to push for increased border policies,” Adam told CBS News.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told ABC News this week that “time is running out” for U.S. lawmakers to clear the new funding. Mr. Biden warned weeks ago that the U.S. government’s allotted money for Ukraine would run out at the end of the year, and he said if the new funding wasn’t approved, it would be the “greatest Christmas gift” for Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Marine veteran Lance Lawrence was killed by a Russian drone during an operation to take a Russian trench line. His mother, Terrie Lawrence, joined Adam on Capitol Hill to advocate for the cause her son died for.
“He gave his life for this cause,” Lawrence told CBS News. “We need to get it together and help support them and help them defeat their adversary.”
The U.S. has supplied Ukraine with some $40 billion in aid since the war began almost two years ago. But about 30% of Americans say the U.S. is providing too much assistance to Ukraine in its fight against Russia, according to a December Pew Research Center study.
“It’s disappointing,” said Adam. “I don’t think they truly understand the repercussions if Russia were to succeed in their invasion.”
If Ukraine’s government were to fall, Russia would gain a massive new foothold right on the eastern boundary of NATO territory. While Ukraine is not a NATO member, yet, the U.S. is obligated under Article 5 of the treaty that formed the alliance to help defend militarily against any invasion of a member nation — and that includes several countries currently separated from Russia only by Ukraine.
As soon as he is fully recovered, Adam plans to return to his unit in Ukraine.
“We think that continued aid will not only push Russia back, but it will allow us, not only Ukraine, to be free,” he told CBS News. “And I don’t know what could be more important than freedom.”