Elected officials speak out against Russian aggression in Ukraine

Published: Feb. 24, 2022 at 12:30 PM EST
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WASHINGTON (WWNY) - Both U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik issued statements Thursday denouncing Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

Republican Stefanik, however, also used the opportunity to attack President Joe Biden, a Democrat, who she called “weak” and “feckless.”

Both lawmakers called for a swift, aggressive action against Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian economy.

The Biden administration has pledged to work with U.S. allies to impose harsh and crippling sanctions on Putin and Russia.

“My prayers are with the people of Ukraine in this terrible moment,” Gillibrand, a Democrat, said. “President Putin’s unprovoked, unnecessary and unjustified war will inflict needless suffering on the people of Ukraine and has threatened the security of the entire world. The U.S. must lead the effort to hold Russia accountable. Together with our allies, the U.S. must impose crushing sanctions on Russia and strengthen the defenses of our NATO allies. The world must be united and resolute against this act of aggression.”

“After just one year of a weak, feckless, and unfit President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief, the world is less safe,” Stefanik wrote.

Former President Donald Trump -- someone who Stefanik has strongly supported -- has called the invasion “genius” and praised Putin for being “savvy.”

Here’s the rest of Stefanik’s statement:

“Rather than peace through strength, we are witnessing Joe Biden’s foreign policy of war through weakness. For the past year, our adversaries around the world have been assessing and measuring Joe Biden’s leadership on the world stage, and he has abysmally failed on every metric. From kinetic and deadly attacks on our allies and partners, to the catastrophic withdrawal and surrender in Afghanistan, to the cyber attacks impeding American industry and infrastructure, to today’s Russian invasion of Ukraine, Joe Biden and his Administration have failed America and the world.

“I join the American people in praying for the safety of innocent Ukrainians as they endure an unwarranted and unjustified invasion by a gutless, bloodthirsty, authoritarian dictator. Vladimir Putin is a war criminal and deranged thug. We must stand with democracies under assault.

“If peace is to prevail, the United States and NATO must respond with the only language Putin understands - strength. It’s long past time President Biden take swift and devastating action to cripple the Russian economy and impose severe irrecoverable consequences on the corrupt regime of Vladimir Putin.”

Also commenting Thursday, Rep. Chris Jacobs, who now represents a congressional district in western New York but is running to represent a new congressional district which takes in Watertown and much of Fort Drum.

Jacobs said the invasion must be met with “severe consequences.”

Governor Kathy Hochul announced the formation of a Joint Security Operations Center to oversee cybersecurity across the state.

“We are on heightened alert with respect to cybersecurity and our own defenses,” Hochul said.

Dr. Alastair Kocho-Williams, a history professor at Clarkson University, called Thursday’s invasion “very serious.”

“We’re looking at the largest military conflict we’ve seen in Europe in 80 years. I see shades of things in the 20th century, of the Cold War turning hot.”

He believes sanctions are the best weapon against Russia, “some fairly hard economic sanctions, potentially freezing any Russian assets overseas.”

Given that Ukraine is far away from the north country, some people may ask the question ‘how much should we care?’

Dr. Kocho-Williams points out Fort Drum is at the heart of the north country. Already, 200 of its soldiers have been sent to eastern Europe.

And things could get worse.

“It could very quickly start to involve the United States, in more than just a political role, a military role. At which point, that puts the United States in direct conflict with Russia,” he said.

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