A U.S. Senator from Florida is sounding the alarm about the treatment of American allies in Ukraine.
After meeting with families of prisoners of war in the ongoing conflict with Russia, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott and U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana are speaking out.
The two Republicans are particularly concerned with the plight of Ukrainian prisoners of war, who are being denied their rights guaranteed under the Geneva Convention to be seen by the International Committee of the Red Cross. (According to the ICRC, the same is happening to Russian soldiers.)
“Since Russia’s unlawful and violent invasion of Ukraine began, we have heard horrific stories of brutal violence both on and off the battlefield. (Vladimir) Putin has laid bare his evil intentions for the world to see, and we cannot ignore it,” Scott and Spartz asserted.
“While we have received many briefings here in Washington on the battles across Ukraine, hearing firsthand from these Ukrainian POWs and the family members of those currently being held by Russian forces this week further exposed the unbelievable brutality of Russia’s war,” the lawmakers added.
“It is essential that the ICRC have full access to all POWs. We fully support the ICRC’s work of ensuring the human rights of POWs are protected and will never tolerate action to hinder its access or otherwise strip the rights afforded to POWs and humanitarian organizations under the Geneva Convention.”
ICRC Director-General Robert Mardini spoke to these concerns in a press conference in Kyiv earlier this month, noting that both sides are violating the rights of their captives.
“To date we have only been able to visit hundreds of prisoners of war on both sides. And we know there are thousands more we still need access to. We will keep demanding access to all POWs, guided by our humanitarian commitment and our mandate under the Geneva Convention,” Mardini said, before going on to address the families of those prisoners.
“I share the frustrations of those families who wait in anguish with no news at all. Families have the right to know about the fate of their loved ones, whether they are alive, wounded or dead. Many have waited anxiously for six long months, and they need answers today. They are impatient, as we are,” Mardini added.
Scott has been a proponent of the U.S. giving Ukraine whatever support it needs, arguing that the proxy war is preferable to active American involvement that would occur if Ukraine falls. Meanwhile, he’s not the only Florida Senator riled about Russian depredations in the region.
Marco Rubio is co-sponsoring legislation that would formalize into law U.S. rejection of any Russian Federation claim of territory currently recognized as part of Ukraine by the international community, amid referendums in potential breakaway regions this weekend. Consistent with that end, the legislation would also block any federal agency from taking any action or extending assistance that would further Moscow’s territorial goals.
The Rubio measure is primarily co-sponsored by Democrats, with Scott conspicuously absent from the rollout. Only five other Republicans signed on so far, including U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, John Cornyn, Joni Ernst, Lindsey Graham and Rob Portman. Eighteen Democrats and two Independents are on board, meanwhile.