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Ohio politicians react to Russian invasion of Ukraine

"I pray that our nation finds the wisdom to make the right decisions and prevent the most catastrophic of outcomes."

CLEVELAND — Much of the nation awoke Thursday to the news of Russia's launch of a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine, hitting cities and bases with airstrikes or shelling, as civilians piled into trains and cars to flee. 

While the world waits on a response from President Biden, NATO, and the European Union, here is how Ohio's lawmakers are reacting to the Russian aggression in Ukraine:

U.S. Senate

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D): "Russia's unprovoked assault on Ukraine is an affront to freedom the world over. This attack will be met with decisive action by the U.S. and our allies. Vladimir Putin chose war, he is unleashing senseless destruction on the Ukrainian people, and he will face the consequences. President Biden has made it clear the U.S. and our allies and partners will impose the strongest sanctions Russia has ever seen, and I will work with the Biden Administration to implement them against Russian officials and oligarchs who prop up Putin's regime."

Sen. Rob Portman, co-chair of Senate Ukraine Caucus (R): "Russia's invasion of Ukraine is an unprovoked, flagrant violation of international law, one that will result in senseless loss of life."

Portman also made more comments Thursday prior to President Biden's address:

"The United States should lead the international community to hold Russia accountable for this tragedy. I have been clear that I supported pre-invasion sanctions. I believed they were warranted and would have been appropriate for the malign actions Russia committed prior to the current invasion. 

"I now call on the Biden administration to lead the world in the strongest sanctions possible, to include sanctions on Russian banks, key oligarchs and President Putin and his associates. We must also impose strong export controls to significantly limit Russia’s access to technology, including semiconductors, which are vital to both Russia’s economy and their military."

U.S. House of Representatives

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D), co-chair of Congressional Ukraine Caucus: "Without provocation – and in a reprehensible violation of international law – Vladimir Putin has rejected diplomacy and chosen the path of brutal and senseless war with Ukraine. By invading Ukraine, Putin has affirmed Russia’s status as a criminally rogue state, and launched an offensive against the entire world.

"Putin has repeatedly justified his aggression with lies, but the world must understand that he spills innocent blood because freedom and democracy are his true enemies. This invasion will inflict unimaginable suffering the likes of which we have not seen in recent memory.

"The great conflicts of the past have taught us that Putin’s aggression cannot be tolerated. As missiles tear through Ukraine’s skies, and tanks begin to roll through its streets – the Free World must rise up in its defense.

"Together, the United States and our allies must unleash crippling sanctions against Russia, and swiftly bolster Ukraine’s military capabilities. The security and stability of Europe – and the preservation of global liberty – are all on the line.”

Rep. Shontel Brown (D): "I am praying for the Ukrainian people during this unjustified invasion. America and its allies will hold Russia accountable for the destruction and devastating loss of life it will bring.  America stands with Ukraine and with democracy." 

Rep. Dave Joyce (R): "May God be with the brave, innocent people of Ukraine. Nations across the globe must come together to hold Russia accountable for this unprovoked attack. Putin does not get to desecrate the borders of a sovereign country and threaten the safety of its citizens."

Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R): "Today we pray for the brave Ukrainians who have awoken to invasion led by a tyrant. While our immediate focus should be on supporting the Ukrainian people and deterring future Russian aggression, we should also be very aware that our enemies are watching. China, Iran, and others will see our actions and those of our allies and adjust their plans accordingly. Whether we like it or not, we have a responsibility to lead. While we should not commit our military to another costly war in another far away land, we simply must do more to raise the cost of today’s invasion to Putin. Absent a more forceful response that changes the calculation for Mr. Putin, we should expect more of the same from him and our other enemies. I pray that our nation finds the wisdom to make the right decisions and prevent the most catastrophic of outcomes."

Rep. Tim Ryan (D): "Praying for the Ukrainian people and our Ukrainian-American friends and loved ones tonight. Putin has made his decision, and now we must make him pay." 

Rep. Jim Jordan (R): "Pray for Ukraine. May God bless its brave citizens."

Rep. Bob Gibbs (R): "It is time to impose crippling sanctions on Putin, Russian gov't officials, and their cronies, and to provide as much military hardware to Ukraine as possible. NATO and the West must stand united in imposing harsh consequences on Putin for this unprovoked attack."

Rep. Troy Balderson (R): "Russia's unprovoked assault on Ukraine represents the most flagrant attack on democracy in Europe since World War II. The United States must stand in solidarity with Ukrainians as they defend their nation and their right to self-governance.

"It is time to send a strong message to Vladimir Putin that such acts of aggression will not be tolerated. Our adversaries and allies alike are watching how the U.S. responds."

Rep. Bill Johnson (R): "We've seen nothing like this in Europe since WWII. And there is only one person responsible for the tragedy unfolding in Eastern Europe: Vladimir Putin. Thinking about the unnecessary loss of life and suffering that will occur in Ukraine is very somber.

"I call on President Biden and his team, working with our allies across the globe, to impose immediate, tougher – as harsh as possible - sanctions and export controls to create more of an effective deterrent on Putin’s tyranny. What has been tried thus far clearly did not work.

"There are millions of innocent civilians who don't want conflict. There are no winners in war, only horrific death and catastrophic destruction. We pray that the Ukrainian people will muster the courage and strength they need in this dark time."

Other politicians

Gov. Mike DeWine (R): "At the direction of President Vladimir Putin, Russian forces have invaded Ukraine in violation of international law. 

"This is unacceptable, and all freedom-loving people should stand against this unprovoked invasion. Ukraine has been a sovereign and independent state since the collapse of the former Soviet Union in the 1990s. The United States and Ukraine share common values including freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. Ohio is home to 80,000 citizens of Ukrainian descent.

"Our thoughts are with the Ukrainian people."

Parma Mayor Tim DeGeeter (D): "Each year, we have a parade in August celebrating Ukraine's independence and a festival that attracts thousands to join the celebration of Ukraine's rich culture, music, food and history. Today, we stand united with our Parma and NE Ohio Ukrainian residents and for Ukraine.

"Many Ukrainian residents in Parma and Northeast Ohio have family and friends living in Ukraine and are praying for their safety and a peaceful conclusion to this current crisis.

"In the past, Ukrainians have suffered through Russian aggression and, once again, their independence is being threatened. In a show of support for Ukrainian Village's numerous businesses and Ukrainian residents, we placed Ukrainian flags along State Road in the Village."

Former Gov. John Kasich (R): "This violent action by Russia is immoral, unjustified and completely incompatible with modern, civilized leadership. Russia must cease its hostilities and withdraw its forces to within its borders. My heart is with the Ukrainian people now for their safety and security.

"Extra vigilance should be maintained right now to protect our NATO allies in Eastern Europe. NATO’s unified resolve against Russia’s aggression is essential."

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