LINCOLN — Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon will leave Nebraska on Friday for an extended trip in and through battle-torn Ukraine, where he will assess conditions and humanitarian needs.
The trip replaces an earlier plan to travel to Poland, where he intended to stay and help with logistical and humanitarian activities for refugees who fled after the Russian army invaded Ukraine and launched an incessant bombardment. of its cities, turning many of them to rubble.
Brewer will fly to Krakow, Poland, where he will meet Noah Philson, a young Nebraska who is already providing humanitarian aid, and they will travel to Lviv, in western Ukraine.
Then it’s on to the capital of Kyiv with a driver and interpreter who will take Brewer across the country, with the final destination of Odessa, a deep-water port on the Black Sea.
This trip would transport them to a war-torn country in the Donbass, where Russian forces have all but destroyed the port city of Mariupol.
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Brewer’s mission is to assess humanitarian needs and “find a way to break the blockage” of equipment and resources that are currently “piled up along the tracks in Poland”.
“The Ukrainians are busy waging war,” he said, “and cannot bring it on.”
Brewer said “it’s hard to judge how the war is moving away from the world” and that it will help him assess challenges and needs.
A retired US Army colonel, Brewer knows war zones well; he was seriously wounded in combat with the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2003 and wounded again in 2011 during his sixth combat tour.
While in Kyiv, he said, he hopes to speak with Ukrainian soldiers about “what they’re going through and what works and what doesn’t.”
After recently speaking with military officials at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Brewer said he was warned to make sure “not to send a real-time message” while he was there, delaying any report he might make about a week when his location changes.
“The Russians are constantly monitoring the messages,” he said.
His approach in Ukraine will be to “see and learn,” Brewer said, while gathering information.
“Ukrainians have shown us that they really want to stay free,” he said. “They fought like tigers.”
Brewer said his intention was to stay for several months, but would return to Lincoln for a special session of the Legislative Assembly if Gov. Pete Ricketts decided to call one after an early ruling by the US Supreme Court. United reversing its previous decision on abortion rights in Roe v. Wade.
But if Brewer is called back to Lincoln in about a month, he will “likely return” to Ukraine.
His decision to go to Ukraine in the midst of the war was prompted by a strong sense of duty and urgency, Brewer said.
In the end, he said, he just decided “you have to go.”
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