WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ohio Rep. Mike Turner, the top Republican on the powerful House Intelligence Committee, made a trip to Ukraine last week to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and get briefed on the ongoing war.
What You Need To Know
- Ohio Rep. Mike Turner visited Ukraine last week and met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
- Turner, who represents the Dayton area, is the top Republican on the powerful House Intelligence Committee
- In an interview with Spectrum News after returning home, Turner discussed his experience and takeaways after being briefed on the eight-month-long war
- Turner said if Republicans regain control of the U.S. House, they will continue to provide aid to Ukraine, but in a more streamlined manner
If Republicans win back control of Congress next month, Turner is poised to chair the Intel Committee. He will have a say in what the future of aid from the United States to Ukraine looks like.
Russia’s war is now in its eighth month and Zelenskyy continues to ask the U.S. for support.
Turner, and two Democrats on the Intel Committee, met with him in Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv last week to learn more about what is happening there.
“The gains are real. They are pushing Russia back,” Turner told Spectrum News in an interview after returning home.
He said Ukraine’s military is using weapons from the U.S. to steadily retake territory captured by Russia—potentially enough to reach pre-war levels before winter begins.
But Zelenskyy’s team told the lawmakers that Russia’s latest strategy of bombing Ukraine’s electrical and water infrastructure is an attempt to destabilize the country as the weather worsens.
Turner told Spectrum News that actually being in Ukraine provided a helpful perspective.
“People in Washington, if they give you a briefing, they just read someone else’s report,” Turner said. “Speaking to those individuals that are on the ground and being able to see what’s occurring really gives you the ability to impact the outcome and to do the work.”
If Republicans win back the House, Turner’s response to the war will be closely watched as the head of the Intel Committee.
Last week, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy told Punchbowl News there would no longer be a “blank check” for Ukraine if the GOP is in control.
In an interview on Wednesday, Turner said his party would not stop providing aid entirely, but would aim to streamline funding and cut out middlemen like the United Nations, which has been giving out humanitarian aid Congress has approved.
“Those types of bloated bills that come out of this Congress are what needs to stop. It shouldn’t take us several dollars to get a dollar to Ukraine,” Turner said.
He later added, “The fact that we pay the United Nations to pay their people to pay others to build a bureaucracy to take actual aid into Ukraine and pass it out is just unbelievable waste.”
Some Republicans, including Ohio U.S. Senate candidate JD Vance and former President Donald Trump, say the U.S. has sent enough money to Ukraine. They think securing the southern border with Mexico, for example, is a higher priority.
It could lead to a standoff with the White House if Republicans are back in control of Congress.
When asked what his response is to Vance and other Republicans who agree with him, Turner told Spectrum News: “Well, that’s a false choice. You don’t ever say, ‘I have something else to do, so I can’t go and fight for democracy’... This is an authoritarian regime that wants to crush western democracies, and that includes us.”
While Turner continues to focus on the war, he said if he becomes the Intel Committee chair, he won’t hold many public hearings about it because most of the panel’s work centers on classified information.