‘Senseless, Unprovoked Attack Undermines Democracy Worldwide:’ Virginia’s Leaders Condemn Russian Invasion of Ukraine

People gather in a shelter during Russian shelling, in Mariupol, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Russia launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine on Thursday, hitting cities and bases with airstrikes or shelling, as civilians piled into trains and cars to flee. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

People gather in a shelter during Russian shelling, in Mariupol, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Russia launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine on Thursday, hitting cities and bases with airstrikes or shelling, as civilians piled into trains and cars to flee. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

By Meghin Moore

February 24, 2022

Attack from Putin’s forces draws bipartisan disapproval from many of Virginia’s elected officials

On Thursday, some of Virginia’s top leaders reacted strongly to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, calling for consequences and sanctions against the country.

On Tuesday, Russian forces not only invaded Ukraine, but took control of the Chernobyl nuclear plant after a fierce battle, according to The Associated Press. According to Ukrainian officials, there have been more than 40 soldier deaths, and at least ten civilian deaths, on top of dozens of injuries.

President Joe Biden announced new, strict sanctions against Russia for their “unprovoked and unjustified” attacks on a sovereign nation. A bipartisan group of lawmakers including Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Republican Representatives Rob Wittman and Ben Cline, Democratic Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, Democratic Rep. Donald McEachin, and Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger echoed his Thursday remarks.

Republican Response

“Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is an assault on a sovereign nation and will have devastating consequences for Ukrainian citizens,” Gov. Youngkin tweeted Thursday morning. “This senseless, unprovoked attack undermines democracy worldwide and we must hold Russia accountable.”

Rep. Wittman, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, released a statement that read: “Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is intolerable and must be met with immediate strength and divisive action from the United States and our allies. This is a blatant attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty. Putin’s intentions have been clear from the beginning: he is a vicious opportunist who will continue to exploit his self-made crisis and put his people through incredible pain and suffering if it means accomplishing his goal of returning Russia to the prestige it commanded before the collapse of the Soviet Union.” 

Rep. Cline also tweeted out his statement: “I stand with the American people in our solidarity against Russian aggression, and we pray for peace in Ukraine. As the President addresses the Nation this afternoon, he must impose all diplomatic and economic pressure on the Kremlin to send a strong and clear message to Russia and our enemies that an attack on a sovereign nation will be met with swift and devastating consequences.”

Democratic Response

Senator Mark Warner tweeted out several reactions to the invasion, and supports President Biden’s decision to impose “severe” sanctions on Russia. “Putin bears the blame for this unprovoked invasion, and his actions must be met with the appropriate consequences.”

“For more than 70 years, we have avoided large-scale war in Europe. With his illegal invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has tragically brought decades of general peace to an end. Now the US and our NATO allies must stand united and resolute against Putin’s efforts to renew the Russian empire at the expense of the Ukrainian people,” Warner said in a longer statement.

“We can no longer hold out hope that this standoff will be resolved peacefully. Therefore, we must all, on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Atlantic, work together to demonstrate to Putin that this aggression will not be allowed to go unpunished,” he said.

In a series of tweets, Rep. Spanberger wrote: “We must be united in condemning Putin’s war, an act of aggression that serves only the irrational self-interest of one man. In the hours and days ahead, he must feel the sting of unprecedented sanctions from the United States and our partners around the world. Kremlin officials, Russia’s globe traveling oligarchs, & Duma Members must also be held accountable for this reckless push to reestablish the borders of the Soviet Union. They should be powerfully confronted for their decision to inflict pain on the people of Ukraine. Earlier, President Zelensky spoke on the right for Ukraine to determine its own future — that the Ukrainian people are free. His words embodied the strength, courage, and resolve of a proud people. We pray for them, and we remain committed to supporting their independence.” 

Sen. Kaine held similar remarks to his colleagues, releasing a statement on Twitter. “America’s commitment to Ukraine is absolute and has the steadfast, bipartisan support of Congress. Make no mistake: Russia’s aggression will continue to have significant consequences, including through additional crippling economic sanctions.”

Rep. McEachin had the following to say about the current conflict: “President Vladimir Putin’s unilateral, unjustifiable military assault on Ukraine marks the end of an unprecedented period of peace in Europe and the start of a premeditated, destabilizing conflict. This attack on Ukraine’s democratic sovereignty will lead to an unnecessary and tragic loss of life.”

He also noted that “the United States and our NATO allies must meet this flagrant violation of international law with a unified, swift response,” while also discussing Biden’s sanctions. “Russia will ultimately pay a steep price for these attacks, isolated and cut off from the global economy,” he said.

McEachin’s statement ended on a somber note: “Russia is solely responsible for the death and destruction this invasion will cause. These attacks are a gross violation of international norms and an assault on democracy everywhere. The United States, along with our international partners and allies, stand with Ukraine and condemn this senseless aggression. I pray for the safety of the innocent civilians who now find themselves in harm’s way and for our brave servicemembers as they defend American interests abroad. My thoughts are with their families during this difficult time.”

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