Leaders across Michigan react as Russia begins military operation in Ukraine

Ukraine Tensions
Posted at 11:01 PM, Feb 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 15:03:44-04

(WXYZ) — Leaders from across Michigan are reacting after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military operation in Ukraine late Wednesday night eastern time.

Related: Latest as Russia begins military operation in Ukraine

President Joe Biden responded Wednesday night after reports of missile strikes were heard in several cities in Ukraine.

"The prayers of the entire world are with the people of Ukraine tonight as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces," Biden said in a statement.

"The United States and its allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way," Biden added. "The world will hold Russia accountable."

Leaders from across Michigan responded after the attacks began. You'll find statements below. This will be updated as more come in.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow

“I share the horror of the many Ukrainian-Americans in Michigan of this brutal, unprovoked, and unjustified attack by President Putin on the people of Ukraine. America will stand strong with all of our allies to do everything we can to protect their freedom and independence and save lives.”

Sen. Gary Peters

“I unequivocally condemn Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine – an appalling and illegal assault on a sovereign nation and democracy itself.

“This is a dark and dangerous moment. The U.S. and our European allies must send Putin an unmistakable message by swiftly enacting crippling sanctions to hold Russia accountable.

“NATO must stand united and resolute in our support for the Ukrainian people. I remain committed to working with the Biden Administration and my colleagues to do our part.

“My heart goes out to the people of Ukraine, who are victims of this unprovoked war, and I stand with the American people — including the more than 39,000 Michiganders of Ukrainian descent — in opposing this aggression.”

Rep. John Moolenaar (R) 4th Congressional District

“Vladimir Putin is attacking Ukraine to oppress the free people who live there and to take their country from them. The consequences for this invasion must be swift and I stand ready to support harsh sanctions on Putin and his officials for this attack. The Biden Administration must not be weak and it must act with determined resolve to enforce sanctions. Finally, it must do everything it can to get every American citizen out of harm’s way as quickly as possible.”

Rep. Dan Kildee (D) 5th Congressional District

"Russia’s declaration of war on Ukraine, an independent and democratic nation, threatens peace and stability in Europe and around the globe. America stands in solidarity with the Ukrainian people, who are the victims of this unprovoked attack. Working with President Biden, Congress must immediately pass crippling and sustained sanctions to punish Russia for its actions. There must be severe consequences for Vladimir Putin and the Russian government for its illegal invasion of a sovereign country. Working with the European Union and our allies, the United States must work to strengthen NATO to deter and defend against further Russian aggression. The world must stand together and react swiftly to hold Russia accountable."

Rep. Fred Upton (R) 6th Congressional District

“Today, Russia’s authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine. I was hoping for a diplomatic resolution, but Putin rejected diplomacy and chose war. The US must continue to support our ally Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression through knee-buckling economic sanctions targeting Putin and his cronies, including cutting off Russia from the international banking system. Our international allies must join the US in imposing severe sanctions as to not give the aggressor any sort of fiscal relief. Germany’s suspension of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is a much-needed show of support but must be followed by continuing waves of sanctions. We must also continue to support and supply Ukraine with the necessary equipment to defend themselves. This truly requires an all-hands-on-deck approach supplemented by strong NATO and EU forces working to defeat Russia both militarily and fiscally.

The President has many tools readily, available such as economic sanctions, that I strongly encourage the President to continue to uphold. However, if the Biden Administration wishes to send US troops to Ukraine in lieu of a formal declaration of war they must first obtain Congressional authorization for the use of military force – not a hasty executive order that would put thousands of American lives at risk without a Congressional consensus.

It is my hope that this invasion is swiftly dealt with, and casualties are kept to an absolute minimum. This is an important global test of democratic values, and we must not fail.”

Rep. Tim Walberg (R) 7th Congressional District

“Make no mistake: Vladimir Putin is a thug and there must be decisive consequences for his lawless invasion of Ukraine. The United States and our allies must present a posture of strength against Russia’s unprovoked aggression. It is past time to impose maximum and far-reaching sanctions that cripple Russia’s economy and stifle access to international financial markets. In this dark hour, please join me in prayer for the people of Ukraine and their safety.”

Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D) 8th Congressional District

"Firing artillery or missiles into Ukraine makes clear that Putin has his own distorted, delusional view of the world. He’s lying about the need for military operations to propagandize his own people — and he’s taking us into a very serious and dangerous chapter. And make no mistake: China is watching every move right now and taking notes.

Congress has a role in the coming days: we need to finalize a package of sanctions, grease the skids for more military aid to Ukraine and make clear that, despite our differences, reasonable Democrats & Republicans are united in condemning Russia’s unwarranted aggression. The relevant national security committees should come back to DC and finalize the bipartisan package ahead of the March 1 SOTU so that our country can speak with one voice on the world stage."

Rep. Andy Levin (D) 9th Congressional District

“Russia’s attack on Ukraine, a sovereign country with the right to self-determination, is unacceptable. I am resolved to work with my colleagues in Congress, President Biden and our transatlantic partners to ensure Russian President Vladimir Putin and others around him are held accountable for this gross violation of the most basic tenets of international order. President Biden is right to impose new sanctions on Russia and I commend Germany for suspending certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and for other U.S. allies and partners, like the EU, Japan and Australia, for imposing their own sanctions.

“In the immediate moment, my heart aches for the Ukrainians who are already suffering from Russia’s latest invasion of eastern Ukraine and their loved ones, including my constituents in Michigan’s Ukrainian-American community. If the fighting escalates, the toll on civilians will be immense, adding to the 14,000 deaths that have already occurred since Russia’s 2014 invasion and creating grave humanitarian and economic crises. I am deeply concerned about the prospect for massive civilian suffering and for the families that will be forced to flee violent conflict.

“I am proud to have long supported sending more defensive lethal and non-lethal aid to Ukraine; we must ensure that Ukraine continues to have the best tools to defend itself. I have also called for imposing crushing sanctions on the Russian government, Putin and his regime in the event of a new military assault. Now is the time to impose them. We must also prepare to support and protect civilians who are being forcibly displaced by surging humanitarian relief resources where people are fleeing.

“At the same time, with lives and livelihoods of the people of Ukraine, Russia and indeed the international community at stake, I am committed to working with the Biden administration and our European allies to find ways to de-escalate. Recent statements from Russia and NATO indicate there are areas of mutual agreement on nuclear arms control, conventional military force postures and confidence-building measures that can and must be pursued.

“Finally, I call on the international community to focus on supporting the people of Ukraine. We must remain united in the face of Russia’s war against Ukraine so that Putin’s violent gambit comes at a price the Russian people will not accept.”

Rep. Lisa McClain (R) 10th Congressional District

"Putin is a ruthless dictator, yearning for the recreation of the Soviet Union. America stands with the millions of Ukrainians against this blatant Russian aggression and violations of international law. #StandwithUkraine"

Rep. Haley Stevens (D) 11th Congressional District

"Watching in horror while praying for the brave people of Ukraine tonight. The United States and Allies stand with Ukraine. Democracy must prevail and Vladimir Putin will be held accountable."

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D) 12th Congressional District

"Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified declaration of war against the sovereign nation of Ukraine calls for an immediate, strong, and coordinated response from the U.S. and our allies. Praying for the people of Ukraine."

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D) 13th Congressional District

“The invasion of Ukraine is an unjustifiable violation of international law, and we need an immediate diplomatic solution that ends hostilities and protects innocent lives. We must be laser focused on protecting the millions of innocent lives in Ukraine that are now under unconscionable threat from Putin’s violent aggression. Sanctions should target Russian leaders and oligarchs, not civilians, as we seek to end this horrible war without further bloodshed, and the US should also be prepared to assist with protecting and sheltering refugees.

“My hope is that we begin moving towards a more peaceful, less militarized world. That belief is stronger than ever knowing that countless everyday people from Detroit to Kiev to Moscow share in our dream of a peaceful world free of violence and war. My team and I are closely following this crisis as it develops and will continue to put the mission of peace at the center of our efforts.”

Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D) 14th Congressional District

"Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is an abhorrent violation of international law. The United States and our allies must have a strong, coordinated response against Putin’s unjustified actions. My prayers are with the people of Ukraine."