PARMA, Ohio — From the moment Russia first invaded Ukraine just days ago, Northeast Ohio has seemingly been united in its opposition to the attack. The state's governor has been no exception.
Less than 24 hours after declaring Sunday a statewide Day of Prayer, Gov. Mike DeWine and his wife Fran were in Parma to do just that, taking part in a special service at St. Andrew Ukrainian Catholic Church. The governor at one point addressed parishioners from the lectern before speaking with reporters following Mass.
"What's going on in Ukraine affects all Ohioans, it affects all Americans," DeWine told 3News' Lindsay Buckingham. "This was an unprovoked, brutal attack on democracy, so we should care very much about what happens there."
More than 80,000 Ohio residents are of Ukrainian descent, with a large bulk of them calling the Parma area home. Mr. and Mrs. DeWine — both devout Catholics — have attended St. Andrew in the past, and the governor said the church was "where we really wanted to be."
"Today and this past week, no matter what our backgrounds, we are all Ukrainians," he declared.
DeWine also continued to advocate against buying Russian products, echoing his order Saturday that halted the sale of the country's vodkas within Ohio liquor stores. Additionally, he joined those calling for President Joe Biden to send more weapons assistance to Ukraine and for the international community to come down "very, very hard" on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Putin is a thug," DeWine said. "This is a horrible, horrible person, and we must punish him the best that we can."
In the days since the invasion, several protests and vigils have taken place across Parma and Greater Cleveland. U.S. Sen. Rob Portman and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, co-chairs of the Ukraine Caucuses in their respective congressional chambers, both spoke at St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral Sunday afternoon.